The Mandarin vs the Last Airbender

Even after reading a bunch of articles, the whole thing about the way the Mandarin is included in Iron Man 3 just bugs me.

Remember when everyone got wind of the Last Airbender cast and how much people raged? We're talking fictional race of people in a fictional setting, obviously influenced by Asian culture but doesn't necessarily require Asian actors because of the previous two reasons. And before that we had White Goku, which was also met with outrage, to a lesser degree and also much less justifiable because Goku is as Asian as Superman.

But when Ben Kingsley was announced as being part of the Iron Man 3 cast, it was like the exact opposite reaction. People were hoping that he was the Mandarin. A character whose East Asian ethnicity is literally in the name (I know he's half white in the comics, but still), and people were hoping a British Indian would be cast as him. No ill will towards Kingsley, love him as an actor, and his long R's from the trailer has grown on me, but what the hell?

I know the reason is that they don't want to piss off the Chinese who are somehow pretty involved in the development of the film (still can't tell how from the trailers, maybe it's entirely on the financial and administrative side of things?), so instead he's a perversion of various Asian cultures (sort of a meta commentary on the whole Fu Manchu thing, which is kind of clever I guess), but that still leaves me wondering about why the initial fan reaction was so different.

Gatx:
Even after reading a bunch of articles, the whole thing about the way the Mandarin is included in Iron Man 3 just bugs me.

Remember when everyone got wind of the Last Airbender cast and how much people raged? We're talking fictional race of people in a fictional setting, obviously influenced by Asian culture but doesn't necessarily require Asian actors because of the previous two reasons. And before that we had White Goku, which was also met with outrage, to a lesser degree and also much less justifiable because Goku is as Asian as Superman.

But when Ben Kingsley was announced as being part of the Iron Man 3 cast, it was like the exact opposite reaction. People were hoping that he was the Mandarin. A character whose East Asian ethnicity is literally in the name (I know he's half white in the comics, but still), and people were hoping a British Indian would be cast as him. No ill will towards Kingsley, love him as an actor, and his long R's from the trailer has grown on me, but what the hell?

I know the reason is that they don't want to piss off the Chinese who are somehow pretty involved in the development of the film (still can't tell how from the trailers, maybe it's entirely on the financial and administrative side of things?), so instead he's a perversion of various Asian cultures (sort of a meta commentary on the whole Fu Manchu thing, which is kind of clever I guess), but that still leaves me wondering about why the initial fan reaction was so different.

One of the major reasons is that Avatar was set in a fully asian society, the Dress written language, art, and pretty much everything was based on various asian cultures. Indian, Inuit, Chinese pretty much. That they were those cultures were a major part of what made the series stand out and that the races were changed for the movie took something away from the f inal product.

As to Kingsly playing the Mandarin. Race has never been something too important to the character. He uses Alien tech and he's a decendant of Genghis Khan. He deals things worldwide and never focuses specifically on anything Chinese.

Not really a good comparison as Winnosh has pointed out (the rage is due to how heavily Asain influcence is in that universe so by having white casts sort of made it out of place) while the Mandarin is just one character. A better example is how some people raged over Idris Elba as Heimdall in Thor since Heimdall is white in the comicbook.
Still people are silly sometime since as far as I know no one rage over Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk / The Kingpin which again he is white in the comicbook. I suppose it due to Thor has Norse mythology while there isn't any ethnic or stuff like that in Iron Man (well other than tech theme).

Winnosh:

One of the major reasons is that Avatar was set in a fully asian society, the Dress written language, art, and pretty much everything was based on various asian cultures. Indian, Inuit, Chinese pretty much. That they were those cultures were a major part of what made the series stand out and that the races were changed for the movie took something away from the f inal product.

As to Kingsly playing the Mandarin. Race has never been something too important to the character. He uses Alien tech and he's a decendant of Genghis Khan. He deals things worldwide and never focuses specifically on anything Chinese.

Have watched like 5 episodes I can tell you that's not quite true. In the first season they said the point when the spirit world was close to the real world on the solstice. That was a belief in Druidism. I would agree that it is mostly set in Asian culture but, but it would be silly not to notice the pagan influences. I guess what I am saying is your not wrong just less right.

Well, I think Goku is more white than Asian, so I was ok with that...

 

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