It's been announced that Marvel Studios has entered a co-production deal with Chinese DMG Entertainment, who will throw in some money and handle China-based production - meaning that some of Iron Man 3 will be shot in China.
"Oh my!" some have cried. "This surely means the long-in-the-shadows Mandarin, Iron Man's Chinese foe, will be in the film!"
Not so fast. China doesn't like looking bad, and it definitely doesn't like being the villain who gets beaten down by an American hero. Releasing a movie that portrays the Chinese in a bad light released in China is hard enough. Making one there? I wouldn't count on it. Which means I wouldn't count on The Mandarin being within a hundred miles of this film.
I would expect to see Tony Stark heading to China on international business and getting into some sort of trouble there, but I wouldn't expect Mandarin or any other Chinese baddie to be behind it. In fact, I'd be expecting some sort of Chinese hero to show up at some point. Sadly the Marvel Universe is loaded with Japanese characters, but very few Chinese. Here's who could appear:
- The Collective Man: Chinese quintuplets who can synthesize together into one being. A little old school Communist for modern China, and also they're mutants, and so likely belong to Fox.
- Shang Chi: he's essentially the Bruce Lee of Marvel Comics. He's known as The Master of Kung Fu, and he's actually the son of Fu Man Chu (yes, the pulp villain). He has no powers, but is like the bestest martial artist EVER. He'd be the easiest character to slide into an Iron Man film, as he's essentially been a secret agent in the past.
- The Ancient One: The Sorceror Supreme before Dr. Strange. This would be the guy who I'd most like to see in Iron Man 3 because he would be setting the stage for a Dr. Strange movie, which Kevin Feige has been wanting to do for a while. That said, I don't know what sort of context would allow an Ancient One to appear in an Iron Man film, especially since I get the feeling Iron Man 3 will dial back the fantasy after what Tony experiences in The Avengers. Beyond that, any connection to Tibet (where the Ancient One lives) would be politically touchy for the Chinese. But as a nerd, this is the guy I want to see pop up in a Marvel movie next.
Or it could be none of the above and nobody new could show up. Who knows? Hopefully Shane Black, who's directing the damn thing.