Tag Archives: Ben Kingsley

Race + Film: Who Is The Mandarin?

By Kendra James and Arturo Garcia

Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin via Comics Alliance

If you haven’t seen Iron Man 3 yet and you remain blissfully unspoiled where it comes to the movie’s main villain, turn back now for there are major spoilers ahead. Unlike the marketing teams for certain other summer flicks (hi, Star Trek) Marvel and Disney did a good a job of hiding The Mandarin’s origins and plot line for you to ruin it for yourself now.

But here’s a clue: The Mandarin is not Khan.

For those of you who don’t know anything about The Mandarin aside from the Ben Kingsley casting controversy, I’ll let the Marvel wiki  break it down briefly:

Born circa 1920, the future Mandarin was raised by his embittered aunt following his parents’ deaths, and as an adult he used his brilliance and family wealth to attain prominence in the Kuomintang Party’s reign over China. The Communist Revolution of 1949 cost him his position and power, although the population he had once commanded still regarded him with nigh-mystic awe. After years of seeking some means of regaining greatness, he ventured into the mysterious Valley of Spirits, where he discovered the millennia-old wreckage of a starship of the reptilian Kakaranatharian, or Makluan, extraterrestrial race, and the ten mighty rings which had powered the vessel

…Iron Man visited China to investigate the Mandarin for the U.S. government. Using the rings and his own combat skills, the Mandarin nearly defeated Iron Man, who nonetheless outwitted him and escaped. Soon after, the pair again clashed when the Mandarin pulled Stark surveillance missiles from the sky to use for his own purposes, then manipulated the Chinese government into test-firing a missile which, unknown to them, was intended to trigger world war, but Iron Man defeated him both times.

It’s your standard superhero/super-villain dichotomy after that. The Mandarin is to Iron Man as Lex Luthor is to Superman. China has always been an important part of his back story as his original base of power, and the Mandarin had always been portrayed as Chinese. So when it was announced that Ben Kingsley would be playing The Mandarin we were all, by rights, slightly perturbed to say the least. But after seeing the finished product, Arturo and I differed on how we watched it all play out.

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Introducing: The Racialicious Casting Couch

By Kendra James

“Casting Couch” by Derek Lane. Image via Flickr Creative Commons.

Sutton Foster and Kelli O’Hara-esque young white ingenues are a dime a dozen on Broadway, but can you name  three Asian women who have risen to that level of fame on the Great White Way? And we all know it’s easier to become the next Julia Roberts than it is to become the next…is there an Asian American Julia Roberts in Hollywood?

All the talk concerning casting in film, television, and theatre this week (plus the advent of television pilot season) had me diving back into my favorite source of online Casting Fails, a few of which I’ve posted under the cut.
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Chromatic Casting: Remixing The Dark Knight Rises

By Arturo R. García

At the suggestion of a friend, I decided to revisit Friday’s post about Bane, Chromatic Comics-style. Keep in mind that there’s several different permutations of the casting choices I came up with.

Let me say up-front that this, ultimately, is an exercise in casting for fun. It is not intended to suggest that casts comprised entirely of people of color are “THE ANSWER.” To suggest that one must choose between calling for more POCs to be cast in race-neutral roles, or calling for the creation and development of more standout characters of color – be they heroic, villainous or otherwise – is to enable a false dichotomy. There’s good reasons why Luke Cage is best played by a Black actor and why Bruce Wayne could be played by, say, an Asian-American actor. (He’s not in this particular version, but I’m not saying an Asian-American actor or actress couldn’t pull it off, and if you’ve got any choices of your own, please feel free to chime in in the comments.)

If anything, the Chromatic meme puts the lie to the premise that “there’s not enough [x] actors to make it work” or “people wouldn’t go see an [x] actor in a general-market lead role.” Showing that there are actors of color out there, each of them with established fan bases, who could step into these “iconic” roles only supports the call for a greater variety of roles for them, and for the next wave of POC actors, because it shows that there are “enough” of them out there for both consumers and business interests to take a chance on.

With that established, here we go. A ton of pics, and some spoilers for Nolan’s Batman series are under the cut.

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