Tag Archives: marvel comics

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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Target Audiences: LL Cool J And Marvel Comics Work The Spin Cycle

By Arturo R. García

There’s a lot to unpack from LL Cool J’s recent appearance on The Tonight Show: his statements that “you can’t fit 300 to 400 years” into a song like ‘Accidental Racist,’” and that he would never compare the Confederate flag to a do-rag–despite his linking the two in the line, “If you don’t judge my do rag, I won’t judge your red flag.”

But his insistence on defining the “conversation” (read: nearly unanimous critical disdain) around the song around “extremes” stuck out for the wrong reasons for me. It smacked of the same kind of defensiveness the comics industry has been deploying more and more in recent years.
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Race + Comics: On Alex Summers, Apologies, And Assimilation

By Arturo R. García

Alex Summers, a.k.a. Havoc, delivers his team’s mission statement in Marvel Comics’ Uncanny Avengers. Image via ComicsAlliance.com

As a fan of both the X-Men franchise and some of his past work, I’d like to believe the best from writer Rick Remender’s online apology over his mishandling of the recent criticism surrounding his latest issue of Uncanny Avengers.

Unfortunately, regardless of intentions, “sorry” needs to be the first word in these discussions, not the last. And his statements both before and after apologizing don’t engender any more trust in his ability to properly explore the theme his story introduced. Which is a shame.
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The Racialicious Review Of New York Comic-Con

By Guest Contributor Kendra James

Before we get to criticisms, let’s start on a positive note: Overall, I loved attending New York Comic Con this past weekend. Entrenched in one giant convention center with my fellow geeks, I was mostly able to ignore the fact that most of us had no way to contact the outside world…or the friends we got separated from in the massive crowds.

Waiting in line for panels was actually the best way to escape the crowds at NYCC which seemed to take over all of midtown Manhattan (I was nearly hit by a van on 10th Ave driven by what looked like Daenerys and Spider-Man) and, as suspected, Saturday’s panels proved most exciting. Here’s a brief wrap up of two major panels and some general NYCC news and observations for those who weren’t able to attend:

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Behind The Numbers: Marvel’s ‘More Diverse’ Avengers

By Arturo R. García

All three covers for Marvel Comic’s “Avengers” #1. Via Newsarama.com

While Marvel Comics seems intent on doubling down on racefail within the X-Men titles, the new writer guiding portions of the company’s Avengers line has been promising a more diverse line-up.

As Kendra noted in her New York Comic-Con preview, Jonathan Hickman has gone on record as saying he wants half of his eventual 24-member cast to be comprised of PoC or women.

“One of the first things we all agreed on is that the roster should look more like the world,” he told Comic Book Movie.com. Looking at the line-up thus far, that “or” is a troubling distinction on what would otherwise be an admirable effort to follow through on his pledge.
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The Racialicious Preview For New York Comic Con 2012

By Guest Contributor Kendra James

Entrance to New York Comic Con. Via Collider.com

Okay, so there’s not going to be anything Avengers-sized at this year’s New York Comic Con. That said, I’m still thrilled to be spending the weekend down at the Javits Center on behalf of The R. I’ll be on site Thursday through Sunday covering panels, celebrity sightings, and other general Con-ness. There aren’t as many panels as we had back at this summer’s SDCC, but the way I see it that just makes it easier to hit up more great stuff!

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Race + Comics: A Good Conversation With A Creator

Courtesy: DC Comics.

By Arturo R. García

Longtime readers will remember the infamous Twitter discussion between Son of Baldwin and Marvel Comics editor Tom Breevort, where Breevort proceeded to demonstrate how limited the comics industry’s thinking can be when it comes to race.

Not that things have gotten markedly better all of a sudden, but it was pleasant to have a good conversation on the subject vis-a-vis DC Comics’ Superman last night with one of the more notable writers in the industry, Mark Waid, who tackled the character in the Superman: Birthright miniseries, and more recently has earned praise for his work on titles like Irredeemable, Insufferable and Marvel’s Daredevil.

I put together a Storify for the chat, which can be seen under the cut. One note, however: the discussion centers around the representations of the character prior to DC’s reboot last year. So, no short cape and jeans talk here.
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