'Iron Man 3': Is The Mandarin An Extremist Fringe Republican?
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:
Follow Frank DiGiacomo on Twitter.
Follow Movieline on Twitter.