Friday, July 28, 2006

"Global China" Paves Way for Racist Caricature

At the San Diego Comic-con this year, Marvel unveiled plans for three new films based on Marvel characters: a new Hulk movie (without Ang Lee at the helm), an Ant Man film (leaving comic book fans scratching their heads), and Jon Favreau directing an upcoming Iron Man film. But the film is already causing controversy with the announcement that Favreau's film will include The Mandarin, a racist, Fu Manchu-style villain as Iron Man's nemesis. When interviewed by, Favreau had this to say: And he’s a tough character because in his original appearances he’s a racist caricature. Favreau: There are certain fears and certain strengths the character evokes that are applicable, but of course you have to completely remove any of that short sighted cultural ignorance that leads to any sort of bigotry in the storytelling. That isn’t to say those fears and shortcomings of Iron Man as relating to that character aren’t relevant. Think about what made the Mandarin someone everybody gravitated to – if you look at the message boards, overwhelmingly that’s someone everyone wants to see. He was intelligent, he was powerful, he was mysterious. He was always one step ahead. Despite his suit and technology, Iron Man was always the underdog. Mandarin always had this Machiavellian web he would fall into. He was based in China which was then mysterious because it was Red China. Today China is mysterious in other ways because it’s Global China. China is the economic powerhouse that is quickly catching up and will eventually surpass us.
Favreau's comments include a grab-bag of Chinese stereotypes, from overly intelligent and villainous, to fears of the Yellow Peril associated with Communist China. All things considered, Favreau is resurrecting a racist caricature that would be better left to the racist past. If the Mandarin is going to be at all true to its comic book character, Asian American activists might as well pull out their protest signs now. The only way this film could get any worse is if Christopher Walken is cast to play the Mandarin.

Cross-posted: APA for Progress


Blogger mingerspice said...

*growing sense of dread*

7/29/2006 11:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! It's Iron Man vs. The Atom!

7/30/2006 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Mar & SF Area Activists said...

yeah - more china-bashing ahead. christopher walken would be bad, but what about david caradine. they could also cast a john lone too, like michael cimino did in the 80's bomb year of the dragon. regardless of the potential yellowface S#$% it sounds like it's going to be bad.

7/30/2006 09:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Carmen Van Kerckhove said...

Hey Jenn,

This is not really related to this particular post, but I just saw a link on Alas, A Blog to a feminist carnival that's going on. You should submit one of your many awesome posts - if you haven't already! :)

Here's the link:

7/31/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Hey Carmen, thanks for the reminder! i don't feel like i've written any really feminist posts lately, though. i'll have to see if i can submit an old one or write something new today.

eric -- oh yeah, balls of fury sounds like a major can of suckass to me.

7/31/2006 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Loren said...

Hey, what do you think about the rumors that DC is going to bring back the dreaded and horrifyingly stereotypical Wonder Woman villain Egg Fu?!?!

8/01/2006 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

hey loren! it's no rumour, egg fu is coming back in 52, although i dispute that he is the missing tenth member of the great ten.

and i am disgusted and appalled that they would bring him back.

8/01/2006 02:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hollywood is racist for doing this movie, because it will just stir up ignorance, fear, and hatred for Asian-Americans in general. We should send a strong message with emails, and especially boycott the the racist movie. If we don't keep quiet, and let them know that this film is about racism and not heroism, maybe things will change. "The Mandarin", is just "Fu Man Chu" - who's kidding who, Jon Full-of-Sh8T Favraue?

8/06/2006 07:18:00 PM  
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