I just want to say that I'm super upset that they portrayed the mandarin the way they did, especially since every other super hero movie stays totally true to their comic books counterparts.
There are times to stay true to the character and there are times that maybe you should take some liberties and The Mandarin was definitely one of those times. Since they announced Iron Man 1 I've been dreading The Mandarin showing up in the franchise. When the marketing for this movie happened I was deflated to find out the Mandarin would be the villain.
Favereau said during the Iron Man 1 press release that Mandarin was hard to write for (original plan was Mandarin in Iron Man 1 and Iron Monger in Iron Man 2 to build up Stains' character) and that he was a dated character. I couldn't agree more. Mandarin is a corny and border line offensively racist character designed for a bygone era. My friend said it best when he said The Mandarin is a C grade villain who just so happens to be the arch nemesis of an A grade hero.
The thing is this; when it comes to super hero movies good villains offer parallels to the heroes journey and development. You think of the Batman villains in the Nolanverse, the villains in the Raimi Spider Man movies (not 3, we need to not acknowledge 3). Magneto and Charles in the X Men movies, they're all set up as fractured reflections of each other and and help build conflict and tension.
The Mandarin "as is" does nothing to delve into the things the Iron Man franchise has built, such as Stark's penchant for pageantry, his drinking problems, his relationship problems and in Iron Man 3 the fact that he is now an Avenger. Hell you even think of the great Iron Man comic stories in comics like Demon in a Bottle and there's 0 Mandarin involvement. Iron Man has had more interesting arcs with the likes of Dr. Doom and Norman Osbourne then he has with the Mandarin.
I mean the complaints of the twist at least to me seem so blindly loyal to tradition. Just because Stan Lee decided a goofy half Chinese mystic with ten power rings would be the PERFECT nemesis for a hardy partying alcoholic playboy billionaire in a futuristic robot suit we're forced to accept that and no one can revise it? I'm all for being true to the source material, but sometimes you have to realize the source material is goofy as shit and may just need to be reworked.