'Iron Man 3': Is The Mandarin An Extremist Fringe Republican?

The Mandarin Iron Man 3

A recent production still from Iron Man 3 shows that movie's presumed main villain, the Mandarin, in a kind of evil Stevie Nicks "Stand Back" pose with what appears to be a translucent cape or tapestry draped from him.  And right now, I'm obsessed with the text that's on it.

Earlier this month, I wrote about director Shane Black's comparison of Ben Kingsley's character to Marlon Brando's portrayal of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now  as "a guy who's gone off the reservation" and is "incorporating all these different symbols and iconography into his worldview.”

The above photo offers some clues into that worldview, and despite Black's comment (contained in that same post) about the Mandarin's "obsession with Sun Tzu and ancient arts of warfare," the writing on that cape points to the Bible and a bastardization of American capitalism.

In other words, the Mandarin's name may evoke the Far East, but, in the above photo, he's surrounded by text and images more frequently associated with the far right.

The Far East Vs. The Far Right

Whether that fabric is an item of clothing or some type of banner,  aspects of it resemble the typeface and designs found on American dollars. Instead of "In God We Trust," however, the Mandarin's motto appears to be "In Chaos We Trust."  There's no clear depiction of that saying, but if you look at the circular design on the right side of the fabric, you can make out "In Chao..." while "Trust" can be seen on the circular design to the left.  (That's assuming symmetry, by the way.)

Is He Referencing The Bible? 

Also, on the left side of the fabric is a partially obscured hand-scrawled phrase that appears to be "redeemed through blood" (and may be written in blood, given its color).  That phrase is commonly used in writings about the Bible and often refers back to the Tenth Book of the New Testament, Ephesians 1:7: "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace." (That's from  the New American Standard Version of the good book.)  In its Biblical usage, the redemptive blood belongs to the martyred  Jesus Christ, but it's unclear whether the Mandarin sees himself as a Christ figure or whether he's twisted the phrase into something much more nefarious that requires a lot of blood to be spilled before his idea of redemption can occur.

If there are any Marvel Comics-loving Biblical scholars or GOP pundits out there who can shed more light on these clues, please enlighten me in the comments section below.

More on the Mandarin:

WATCH: The Mandarin Isn't Talking Funny Anymore

'Iron Man 3' Director Spills On The Mandarin & He Sounds Like....Mike Ovitz?

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  • Andrew K says:

    I think the theory is a little silly. Given that they've stated Mandarin is meant to be some bad guy representing, basically, non-American cultures - or in other words, he's meant to be a cosmopolitan FOREIGNER - I'd say he's the xenophobic Right's worst enemy.

    As you point out, he's even twisting American and biblical quotes like the dirty fore-ner he is.

    It seems to be reinforcing, like Iron Man 1, Iron Man 2, and many, many other action blockbusters the very conservative idea of Establishment = Hero and Outsider = Evil.

    • David says:

      "I'd say he's the xenophobic Right's worst enemy"

      Xenophobic? Let's see.

      There are currently two Indian-American governors in America, they are both Republican and both got elected in the deep South; Jindal in Louisiana and Haley in South Carolina.

      There are currently two hispanic governors in America, they are both Republican; Sandoval in Nevada and Martinez in New Mexico.

      Two of the three hispanic senators in the Senate are Republican; Rubio in Florida and Cruz in Texas.

      Please tell me again how the Right is xenophobic? I'm waiting...

  • Based on the snippets from the previous trailers, I think the Mandarin is using the language of the capitalist west in an ironic sense, against itself. His prime motivation against Stark seems to be that he sees Stark as the embodiment of Western capitalist "decadence." So, if he takes Stark down, he scores a huge symbolic victory. Symbolism seems to be playing a major role in IRON MAN 3. Note also the plot point about War Machine becoming the Iron Patriot, complete with red, white & blue paint job, for expressly symbolic, in-story purposes.

    • Frank DiGiacomo says:

      Osama bin Laden has been referenced in descriptions of the Mandarin, so that makes sense.

  • Hallie says:

    I still don't get why they chose not to cast a Chinese, or half-Chinese actor. Kingsley's amazing but I was kinda hoping for a Chow Yun-fat type.

  • Joe says:

    Didn't make it to Big Hollywood huh? lol - The troll hunting didn't work i guess.

  • Justin says:

    Not too surprised to see Hollywood mixing Christian imagery/scripture with a 'mad man'. This is a standard for Hollywood.
    It's less important to understand what is says about the character as it's to use 'word-image' association. That Christianity is associated with 'scary' or 'dangerous' imagery and its scriptures with 'madness'.

    Mandarin would, presumably be an 'anti-capitalist' although as a cosmopolitan foreigner he would be more likely a friend or share more with right-wing conservatives. A typical Chinese man is also a fantastic capitalist. My marriage in China is under a banner where the only English words are "One Man and One Woman For life".
    But we would still presume Mandarin is an 'anti-capitalist' opposing Stark the Super Capitalist.
    Then again we'd probably be wrong.
    The more likely narrative and lesson is that Mandarin actually teaches Stark a lesson about the evils of Capitalism.
    Not that Mandarin is 'good'. He is actually quite bad. But he may even be a kind of warning of what can happen, a victim of capitalism and of 'Christian America'.
    While Stark still has to stop Mandarin (who sadly became a victim of insanity) we will see Stark take stock of his own greed, capitalist decadence and decided to 'clean up his own backyard' by finally paying 'his fair share' and agreeing wealth isn't just for one greedy person!

    But bottom line: The main thing is to associate sacred Christian scriptures with 'madness' and mix-associate 'God' with 'Chaos' and falsity etc.
    Not so much actual rational explanations for such things.

  • Michael says:

    The Mandarin of the comics has always been a caricature of one-percenters. He was an aristocrat who spent all the money of his fiefdom training himself into the ultimate warrior. All the money that should have been spent making people's lives better he spent to turn himself into a weapon of war.

    The movie may change the details, but the spirit of the character will likely remain the same.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6062M0hVJ4
    Iron Man 3 Music Official Trailer - Full Guitar Cover Version - Iron Man 3 Soundtrack Iron Man 3- Sencit Music Something to Fight For. http://youtu.be/B6062M0hVJ4

  • michael nuffer says:

    he definitely in not grass roots republican, more likely someone who found out obama's socialism did not work out for him

  • slaggingham says:

    If Mandarin is a GOP fringer, then Bane and his cohorts were a spot-on representation of the kind of minds behind the Occupy movement.

    (In other words, NO, stop being Billy Madison before I award you no points.)

  • Pete Ormonde says:

    How absolutely STUPID. The Mandarin isn't an "Extremist Fringe Republican": he's a typical progressive Democrat! He is the posterboy for the "Occupy" movement. Your blatant attempt to warp it says more of YOUR political affiliation (and confirms the stand of those "Extremist Fringe Republicans" ) than anything else!

    • Frank DiGiacomo says:

      Actually, I have no political affiliation. I've never registered as a Democrat or Republican. I have both liberal and conservative views depending on the issue.

  • Marissa says:

    That theory is totally absurd. Being a comic book aficionado, I have read the Iron Man comics several times, and the Mandarin is someone who twists EVERYTHING to his purposes; it doesn't matter if he takes a Bible verse out of context or something from the Koran - he twists it to his purposes no matter what it says. Reading the comics, he's not just Tony's enemy, but everyone's enemy. He wants to totally destroy everything America stands for: freedom. If any political affiliation is involved at all (WHICH IT ISN'T), it is that he is the poster child for socialism and/or anarchy, communism. He made himself into a weapon, it had nothing to do with politics or any of that garbage.
    You should stop trying to turn everything into a game of politics. Can't we just have some fun with movies? At least get your Bible verses straight. Stating one verse out of context can be twisted any way you like. Give it a rest, will you?

  • bobarocks@yahoo.com says:

    Hey Frank DiGiacomo, how you even came up with that comparison (fringe republican) is amazingly ignorant! Boy you sure are the smart one aren't you? Your comparison not only makes ZERO sense but shows your bias and lack of character understanding! I actually just read your hit piece aloud and the 12 of us here laughed our assses off at your attempt of trying to connect the dots to fit your weird little world view! BTW, 8 of us are Democrats...DOH!!!

  • your mama says:

    Who at Yahoo hired Frank. Keep this kind of crap up and you will have the same visitors as NBC and ABC/CBS have viewers( very few) .......Frank, you show your incompetence in reality AND INthe Marvel world. Yahoo editor, better start proof reading Franks work, or lack there of. He is making you look like a dummmby.(I spelled dummy wrong just to test you, you need it).

    • your mama says:

      my bad...Movieline not Yahoo. Yahoo, you cant proof Frank or his stupid story, but maybe read it before you post it.

  • SammyJ says:

    He's obsessed with Sun Tzu? Communists who want to subvert America are obsessed with Sun Tzu. The term "subversion" originated with Sun Tzu. Subversion: gradually, psychologically, destroying a society and transforming it into a communist society: http://youtu.be/5gnpCqsXE8g

    • fRAN K says:

      The moronic liberals who commented on this were wrong. Hollyweird turned Iron Man's arch enemy into a decoy.

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