With the new trailer for Iron Man 3 out today, the buzz around the first Marvel Studios Phase 2 film is increasing. Interestingly, so are the voices comparing Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin with Tom Hardy’s Bane, from The Dark Knight Rises. And while it is somewhat understandable that these parallels are drawn, as they both are terrorists, and (oh my gosh), there is an exploding plane in Iron Man 3 AND in The Dark Knight Rises, that’s really where the similarities should end, because I tell you what, the Mandarin, from the look of these trailers, will completely blow Bane out of the water. Here are five reasons why:
#5) His voice
No, I’m not that guy who thinks Bane was lame because of his voice. I thought it was a good touch, unique and menacing. But did it scare you? I was never scared by Bane’s voice, it was his look that was creepy. The way the Mandarin says “You’ll never see…me…coming” in the last trailer gave me goosebumps. And it was just his voice. Plus we will have the added benefit of being able to understand the Mandarin.
#4) He attacks a country, not a city.
Bane’s vendetta takes him to Gotham, his whole focus is bent on the destruction of Bruce Wayne’s city. Obviously the President knew about Bane after this happened. In Iron Man 3, the Mandarin is a Bin Laden type character, and he’s causing enough damage to make the President of the United States take notice and start a manhunt. These are international incidents. Bane, not so much. He’s en route to Gotham, wanted by the CIA yes, but he’s never the source of widespread media attention, and he is only addressed by the White House after he attacks Gotham. Mandarin is addressed as a global threat while remaining in the shadows, Bane isn’t the media’s concern until he arrives in Gotham and shows his face.
#3) He’s been there the whole time.
We’ve had hints that the Mandarin has been Stark’s nemesis for perhaps the duration of three films. The 10 Rings pop up in the first film as behind the terrorist cell that kidnaps Tony in the first place, and in the second film, it appears that the 10 Rings also got Ivan Vanko the paperwork to get into the car race that Stark had entered. Bane, he’s there for one film, and he hasn’t been behind the scenes in any of the other ones. Does that make him less tough? Not necessarily, but the Mandarin has been a thorn in Iron Man’s side without being seen for years. Bane can’t say the same.
#2) He (probably) won’t rely on plot holes
As great a job as Tom Hardy did as Bane, and he was great, his character relied on too many plot holes to do his damage. My favorite is that a terrorist can walk into a major stock exchange, with dozens of witnesses, and trade away Bruce Wayne’s wealth. This much is plausible, but if you’re trying to tell me that the U.S. Government wouldn’t reverse those trades within 24 hours, especially considering they were all done through Wayne’s account, and not some secret one that required hacking, then I have some seaside land in Kansas I’d like to tell you about. Put it this way, if that happened in real life to Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, the feds would certainly step in. And then the GCPD inexplicably sends all their manpower into the sewers at the same time, making it easy for Bane and his minions.
#1) He’s not a lackey.
Ok, and this is where my worry comes in if DC/Warner Brothers are letting Christopher Nolan change essential parts of characters and stories. It WRECKS them. In the comics, Bane is a master tactician who carefully plans Batman’s downfall. He exhausts Batman, who is at the top of his game, and then comes in and breaks him. In the film, Bane shows up when Batman is a pansy, hiding away for eight years, who has a wrecked body. This is the Batman that Nolan’s Bane breaks, an out of shape Batman. Any Batman villain with any strength could have broken him – Killer Croc, Clayface, maybe even someone like Hush or Prometheus. That is a major watering down of a huge comic book moment.
Side note, it looks like Marvel might actually have a similar storyline to Knightfall (the Breaking the Bat storyline mentioned above), but instead of Bane breaking Batman, the Mandarin will be breaking Tony Stark. That’s embarrassing. Having a great storyline, having a chance to execute it, missing that chance, and letting your main rival walk right in and use a similar story in their next big film. Fail.
Even worse than wrecking Bane’s ‘Breaking the Bat,’ was his treatment at the end of the film. It turns out, Bane was just Talia’s lackey all along. So much for his being a master tactician. There’s no way this happens with Mandarin, just as there is no way War Machine will show up with a bazooka and kill him like Catwoman did to Bane, as if the screenwriters just said, “Dang, the end of this film is coming up quickly, we better bump Bane off!”
So there you have it. Mandarin wins. Yes, all these reasons come with just under two months before Iron Man 3 comes out, so I may be assuming some things. But I’m coming off a 20 for 24 night of picking the correct Oscar winners, so I’m feeling good about my predictions. Maybe if Nolan had respected the source material it would be different.