Complications can easily arise in a movie when you have a morally corrupt villain from China, and changes are done for Chinese audiences. Obviously, DMG Entertainment in Beijing (that helped co-produce “Iron Man 3”) feels that certain elements of the aforementioned film have to be changed for their population to adhere to similar Hollywood partnerships with China. But how far will the changes go to the character of The Mandarin who we know was born in China, had a Chinese father, and bases his operations there?
That might pose a problem all its own when Ben Kingsley doesn’t look anywhere near Asian. The Mandarin, however, also had an English mother, hence perhaps giving credence to a British actor playing someone half Chinese. But how does the Chinese government look at the themes of “Iron Man 3”, particularly in a Chinese supervillain taking down Tony Stark, the emblem of American success?
So far, we don’t know much about what the changes will be to the film other than knowing it’ll be bonus footage. Would China dare make The Mandarin more sympathetic to Chinese audiences due to his strong background there? Such a thing could potentially backfire with younger Chinese moviegoers if it goes in the direction of giving China the upper edge through an unscrupulous character.
Or would there still be a national pride if The Mandarin gets a slight reinterpretation of being right in his actions? That all depends on how the film’s editing is done in China and how much the character veers away from the comic book persona. The Mandarin’s formidable powers originally had him being feared by the Chinese government and military, even though he ultimately protects his homeland.
In this case, The Mandarin may be a villain that simply becomes popular in China because he represents the country. The same principle applied to Godzilla in Japan where movies about the creature continue to be a permanent branding of pop culture. Nevertheless, because The Mandarin is ultimately an American creation, tweaks to the character will make all the difference in whether there’s a recurring popularity.
Should the Chinese version of The Mandarin become popular, it has some significant implications in how the Chinese people view villains going after American industry. No matter what’s done to make The Mandarin look better in China, he may represent something powerful to the Chinese people as an independent taking on the government for world domination. Similarly to Godzilla in Japan, most fans of the franchise never wanted to see the creature killed, despite all the deliberate destruction.
The tables may ultimately turn in finding out that the younger Chinese generation like The Mandarin because he’s his own man and doesn’t adhere to the Communist regime. That may go against what the Chinese government has in mind if they’re the final word in making The Mandarin look more appealing.
Any good news to the above is that the younger Chinese generation will likely give equal love to the Tony Stark and Mandarin characters. Said scenario gives “Iron Man 3” an utterly different spin over in China from how Americans will perceive the film.