“Behind the Scenes of Iron Man: The Writers’ Struggle to Avoid Racially Offensive Villain”

The recently published book titled ‘MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios’ offers an exclusive look into the discussions that took place behind closed doors during the production of ‘Iron Man 3’. The book particularly sheds light on the contentious decision to leave out the character of Mandarin. Marvel Studios, under the leadership of Kevin Feige, had a long-term strategy in mind, which is why they chose to postpone the development of Mandarin’s complex story for future projects. Although a fake Mandarin was hinted at in ‘Iron Man 3’, the real character’s backstory deserved more depth and attention than what a single Iron Man movie could provide. The original Iron Man movie, starring the incredibly charming Robert Downey Jr., was game-changing for superhero films and was released in 2008 when comic book adaptations were still in their infancy. However, as ‘MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios’ suggests, intense debates and disagreements took place during the making of the third instalment, especially regarding the exclusion of a character like Mandarin who could have had a significant impact on the MCU’s trajectory.

Initially, Marvel Studios had planned to incorporate the infamous foe of Iron Man from the comic books, the Mandarin, into Iron Man 3. However, according to MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios, the original concept involved featuring the Crimson Dynamo as the Mandarin. The Mandarin was supposed to surprise viewers by emerging from the ground at Stark Enterprises. Despite this plan, the screenwriting duo, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, opposed the idea of using the Mandarin character from the very beginning. They were worried that the character would clash with director Jon Favreau’s vision of a more realistic and grounded film due to its reliance on racial stereotypes.

According to “MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios,” Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby expressed concerns about including the Mandarin in the movie, as the character’s portrayal in comic books could be seen as racially insensitive. During the script development phase, Fergus and Ostby begged to keep the Mandarin out, feeling that the villain’s broad racial stereotypes would undermine the director’s plausibility mandate. Despite initial hesitation from the writers, Drew Pearce and Shane Black ultimately decided not to include the Mandarin in the film. This decision was part of Keven Feige’s foresight and the MCU’s long game.

Upon becoming the President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige demonstrated his ability to think ahead. The writers expressed their reservations about the character of the Mandarin, and Feige proposed that they reserve him for a future project. In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Feige disclosed his desire to create a storyline that would span several years, not just one movie. The evolution of the MCU’s behind-the-scenes story has been gradual, dating back to the first Iron Man movie. Feige was committed to only showcasing the Mandarin when he felt they could do justice to the complexity of the character. While the Mandarin was teased in Iron Man 3, Feige explained that it was not the real Mandarin and that this was a deliberate decision. The character’s intricacy could not be fully explored in an Iron Man movie, according to him.

Scroll to Top