Chinese Stars Andy Lau and Fan Bing Bing Cast in Iron Man 3

Posted by Viola Chen & filed under Pop Culture.

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Image courtesy of screenrant.com

Hot on the heels of the hugely successful The Avengers, the Marvel film Iron Man 3 has gone into production for a 2013 release date. But as The Avengers continues to soar, Disney (Marvel’s parent company) hopes to aim even higher with Iron Man 3. This week, the film got a budget increase of $60 million dollars, bringing the total tab for the film to a whopping $200 million.

In a play to make the film connect with Asian audiences, Disney has partnered with Chinese company DMG to co-produce the film and gives the film a marked Asian presence. Filming in China will commence in late summer, adding into the script popular Chinese actors Andy Lau and Fan Bing Bing. The film is based on comic book writer Warren Ellis’ popular Extremis storyline which previously did not include any Asian characters.

This decision led many to worry about the introduction of Iron Man’s traditional nemesis the Mandarin, a horrible stereotype of Asian mysticism. Indeed many hints have been scattered throughout the two previous Iron Man films about a secret organization entitled the Ten Rings (a reference to the Mandarin’s 10 magic rings in the comics). While it has been confirmed that Lau will not play the Mandarin (instead, he is an old friend of Tony Stark), the villain, played by Ben Kingsley, has not yet been identified. A recent report on Latino Review has stated that the film’s villain will indeed be Kingsley playing the Mandarin. Here’s hoping Kingsley isn’t pulling another Gandhi.

Iron Man’s traditional nemesis the Mandarin, a negative stereotype of Asian mysticism. Image courtesy of collider.com

On an uplifting note, Shane Black, (the director of Iron Man 3) publicly said that the Mandarin is a “racist caricature” (in October 2011 in the Long Beach comic-con) and a “racist character” (just in April 2012), stating that he is not going to use that character in his movie. Hopefully he keeps to his word—but if he doesn’t, the presence of a Chinese co-producer will weed out any negative or stereotypical representation of Asian.

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