The Mandarin is a fictional character, a Marvel Comics supervillain, and the archenemy of Iron Man. He is from a mainly Chinese background. He first appeared in Tales of Suspense #50 (February 1964).
Fictional Character Biography
The Mandarin's late father was one of the wealthiest men in pre-revolutionary mainland China (and claimed to be a direct descendant of Genghis Khan), while his late mother was an English noblewoman. Their son was born in an unnamed village in mainland China before the Communist Revolution. The boy's parents died soon after his birth, and he was raised by his (paternal) aunt, who was embittered against the world and raised him with much the same attitude. All of his inherentence was spent training him in science and combat, with the result that he was broke upon reaching adulthood. Unable to pay the taxes on his ancestral estates, he and his aunt were evicted by the government. His aunt died almost immediately, but such was the Mandarin's training that he did not care.
Hoping to find a means of restoring himself to a position of power, the Mandarin explored the forbidden "Valley of Spirits," where no one had dared to set foot for centuries. There he found the skeleton and starship of Axonn-Karr, an intelligent dragon-like alien from the planet Maklu-4, who had come to Earth centuries ago and died. Over the following years, the Mandarin studied Makluan science until he mastered it. He also learned how to use the ten rings he found within the starship which were apparently its propulsion source, among other things. The Mandarin then became a conqueror and subjugated the villages around the Valley, and, through his advanced science, rapidly became a power that not even the Chinese Army could successfully challenge. He then embarked on a long series of attempts to achieve world domination.
The Mandarin sees technology as the surest means to achieve his goals. Over the years, he has frequently attempted to turn the weapons of various nations against them. Among the Mandarin's earliest schemes is the sabotage and theft of American missiles and spy planes built by Tony Stark. To restore public confidence in his workmanship, Stark donned his Iron Man armor and flew to China to investigate. Iron Man soon became the Mandarin's principal obstacle against his plans for world domination.
First appearance of the Mandarin.On three occasions in their early confrontations, the Mandarin managed to take Iron Man (or his alter ego Tony Stark) captive, but the Mandarin failed to kill him. Similarly, Iron Man thwarted the Mandarin's various schemes, but was unable to bring him to justice. Some of the Mandarin's early technological achievements are the launching of a small orbiting satellite whose "death-ray" he aims at Stark Industries and the building (later retconned as "reprogramming, refitting and recharging") of Ultimo, a 30-foot android possessing vast destructive powers. The Mandarin would employ Ultimo four times over the years, but it was always defeated by Iron Man.
The Mandarin's teleportation technology, derived from Makluan science, enables him to kidnap people at will or teleport himself out of threatening situations. During his fifth encounter with Iron Man, the Mandarin teleported Harold "Happy" Hogan, a friend and confidant of Iron Man, to his castle in China half a world away. Hogan was wearing the Iron Man armor at the time to help protect his employer's secret identity, and the Mandarin mistook him for his true foe. In rescuing Hogan, Iron Man physically bested the Mandarin in personal combat for the first time. Iron Man redirected the missiles that the Mandarin had launched so that they hit the Mandarin's castle, destroying it. The Mandarin escaped by means of his teleportation machinery, and he materialized aboard his orbiting satellite. There, he constructed a gemlike device capable of broadcasting "hate-rays" toward Earth. The Mandarin assembled several of the former Masters of Evil to perform missions for him: the Living Laser, the original Power Man, the Swordsman, the Enchantress and the Executioner. The Avengers managed to thwart the Mandarin's scheme and destroy his satellite.
The Mandarin then established a base in China's Gobi Desert and turned his attention to the Hulk for a time, hoping to make the dull-witted brute an accomplice. Two attempts at controlling the Hulk proved futile, however, including one where the Mandarin allied himself with the American criminal the Sandman. The Hulk destroyed the Mandarin's desert base. When the Mandarin next attacked Iron Man, he employed an android in the Hulk's likeness rather than the real Hulk. The Mandarin set up a makeshift base of operations in America, and attempted to publicly discredit Anthony Stark. Holding Iron Man captive for the fourth time, the Mandarin tried to learn if Iron Man was actually Stark, but Stark fooled him with a rubber mask over his own features. His plans thwarted, the Mandarin tried to kill Stark's current girlfriend, Janice Cord, but the Mandarin's betrothed Mei Ling saved her at the cost of her own life.
Returning to China, the Mandarin sought a means to increase his rings' power and learned of the legendary Eye of Yin, a talisman of power created by an ancient group of Chinese sorcerers. The Mandarin maneuvered the Royal Family of the Inhumans (who at the time lived in the nearby Himalayan Mountains of Tibet) into locating the idol for him. But before he could fully incorporate the Eye's power in his rings, Black Bolt, the ruler of the Inhumans, overpowered him, stripped him of his ten rings, and hid them. Unable to find the rings, the Mandarin journeyed back to the "Valley of Spirits" and the ruins of the Makluan starship wherein he first acquired the rings. There he found a headband containing technology which enabled him to recover the rings. The Mandarin used his newfound power to restore his castle to its original state. The Unicorn, another frequent opponent of Iron Man, sought the Mandarin's aid in curing him of a progressive disease. The Mandarin and the Unicorn traveled to America to attack their common enemy, Iron Man, but in the heat of battle the Mandarin found that the headband had somehow exchanged his consciousness with that of the Unicorn. The Mandarin was forced to flee, desperate to separate himself from the Unicorn's dying body.
When the Mandarin arrived at his castle in China, he found that it had been taken over by the Yellow Claw, another Chinese supervillain. The Mandarin was forced to find another laboratory to try to restore his mind back to its rightful body, which he managed with the unwilling aid of the Japanese mutant Sunfire. In battle with Iron Man again, the Mandarin's interim headquarters was destroyed. The Mandarin then launched an attack on the Yellow Claw in an attempt to regain his own castle, but was fatally injured when the Yellow Claw robot he had been battling exploded. As the Mandarin was dying, he used the headband's mind-transferring capacities to transfer his consciousness into his ten rings. When the rings were confiscated by the Yellow Claw's power-hungry servant Loc Do, the Mandarin's consciousness entered his body, permanently driving out Loc Do's. Using his matter-rearranger ring, the Mandarin transformed Loc Do's body into a younger duplicate of his original one.
The Mandarin returned to his castle, discovering that it had again been destroyed. After rebuilding it, the Mandarin attempted to capture Iron Man with his teleportation devices, but once again caught someone else clad in his armor. This time it was Michael O'Brien, later to become a friend of Stark's and second to wear the Guardsman armor. Iron Man flew to O'Brien's rescue, clad in an old set of armor, saved O'Brien, thwarted the Mandarin's attempt to bomb the United States and for a second time bested him in personal combat. Perhaps due to the effect of the Mandarin's mental domination ring on him, Iron Man did not take the Mandarin into custody, but allowed him to remain free.
The Mandarin later schemed to turn the Great Vibranium Mound of Wakanda into Type II Vibranium which destroys the molecular cohesion of metals. He also tried to destroy China's entire rice crop with radiation in an attempt to force a starving nation into war. In the second of these plots, the Mandarin encountered James Rhodes, during his custodianship of the Iron Man armor.
Heart of Darkness
When Stark tried to set up a branch of Stark Enterprises in Hong Kong, Iron Man and the Mandarin once again came into conflict. The Mandarin had taken the name of Zhang Tong, and had become a financial leader in Hong Kong. As Tong, he controlled a number of government officials and industry leaders of Hong Kong. The Mandarin thwarted all of Stark's attempts to set up a business branch, even resorting to murder. The Mandarin now employed a group called the Hand to do his dirty work. When on a mission, a Hand member is allowed to take one of the Mandarin's rings and use its powers. As a precaution, if the Hand member were to be captured, he would fanatically try to kill himself. If the Hand member were to be killed or knocked out, the ring would automatically teleport back to the Mandarin. The Mandarin's agents kidnapped James Rhodes and several of Stark's other employees, forcing Iron Man into single combat in exchange for their lives. Iron Man defeated the Mandarin once again, and helped Stark's employees escape the Hand. Ironically, the Mandarin's minions were left without their weapons when their master was knocked unconscious, causing his rings to automatically teleport back to him and leaving them unarmed and unable to stop Stark's employees from fleeing. At one point, during a period in which the then thought-dead X-Men had disbanded, the mutant heroine Psylocke passed through the mystic portal known as the Siege Perilous. The portal relocated her to an Asian shore, leaving her an amnesiac. The man known as Matsu'o Tsurayaba found her and believed he could save his brain-dead lover Kwannon by switching her mind with Psylocke.
He made an arrangement with the Mandarin to help him with the switch, since his rings would be able to cause the mind-switch. Working with the woman known as Spiral, they were able to switch the minds of the two women. Mandarin then put Psylocke (now in Kwannon's body) through conditioning, causing her to believe herself to be Lady Mandarin, the Mandarin's assassin. During this time, Mandarin teamed up with several other villains during the Acts of Vengeance. He also confronted the Avengers.
After completing several assignments for him, Psylocke was eventually rescued by her X-Men teammate Wolverine and his then-sidekick, Jubilee. The three then defeated the Mandarin, causing events which led to Mandarin's leaving the Hand.
Some time later, the Mandarin discovered that one of his rings was an elaborate fake. One of his underlings had betrayed him, surrendering the ring to Chen Hsu, an ancient wizard who lived in San Francisco. Hsu, elfin in appearance but puissant in power, gave up the ring to the Mandarin, who, however, collapsed as soon as he put it on. Chen Hsu tended to him, removing the veil of confusion from his mind; soon the Mandarin realized that his memories had been fragmented because of the theft of the ring, because the rings were still linked to his consciousness.
Next, Chen Hsu made the Mandarin a strange offer which involved the two of them traveling to the Valley of the Dragons. There, he used a magic herb to awaken Fin Fang Foom, an ancient and incredibly powerful dragon. Under the control of Hsu, the dragon obeyed the Mandarin, laying waste to an army sent by the Chinese government to stop him. Soon the Mandarin claimed a third of China's territory, and the authorities sent out a call for help to the only man who has consistently defeated him: Iron Man.
But when Iron Man confronted the Mandarin and Fin Fang Foom, it soon became clear that there were other plans in motion: Eight other dragons appear. And then it was revealed that, many thousands of years ago, a number of aliens from the planet Kakaranathara, fourth planet of the star Maklu, had traveled to Earth to look for the conflict which was unknown in their culture and which they craved. The ship had crashed, forcing them to stay on Earth for thousands of years. But then, the Mandarin had found the ship and had claimed their rings. Now, they demanded them back, but he refused them. Iron Man forcibly combined his power with the rings, and managed to destroy the Makluan dragons. The Mandarin survived in a coma state, but his hands were vaporized in the blast.
For months, he lay in a state between life and death, in the care of a peasant woman who did not even know who he was. But over time, his hands grew back - albeit as reptilian claws - and the rings called to him again - called him to reclaim them.
The Mandarin next discovered the Heart of Darkness, an orb of apparently mystic energy; the alien Century believed it was an ancient artifact which acted as a "lens" to attract and focus all manner of dark power. The Mandarin used its power to turn back time in China, and literally transformed it into a feudal nation again, in which electronic equipment could not operate. Iron Man, with his team Force Works and ally War Machine defeated him, but not before the Mandarin discovered that Tony Stark is the man inside the Iron Man armor.
Iron Man infected Mandarin with a techno-organic virus, and the Heart, seeing him infected with technology, rejected the Mandarin and imploded. Iron Man believed him dead, though in reality the Mandarin is transported and transformed by the last flare of the orb's magic, turned into a janitor in the Hong Kong branch of Stark Enterprises.
Eventually, the Mandarin's memories returned to him and instead of trying to crush technology, Mandarin believed that the feudal system of yesterday had merely been transformed into the capitalism of today. Mandarin set into motion plans to create a giant flying fortress called the Dragon of Heaven through which he could conquer Russia and eventually the world. During this time, Iron Man reappeared after being believed dead in a battle against the psychic menace Onslaught. The Mandarin initiated a series of attacks on Iron Man, culminating in a battle with the Dragon of Heaven. Eventually it is revealed that the Mandarin's primary purpose is not to conquer Russia, but to test Iron Man, prove him worthy as a foe and to justify Mandarin's own thoughts on the feudal nature of capitalism. The Mandarin seemed to die as the Dragon of Heaven exploded, but Iron Man was less than convinced that his foe had truly met his end.
Despite the uncertainty of his fate, it would be nearly ten years before the Mandarin returned to the pages of his foe's comic. In the interim, the Golden Avenger faced Temugin, the son of the Mandarin. Temugin has precious few memories of his father and most of them involve his father taking him to the monastery where he was raised and trained by monks. Temugin is sensitive, spiritual and unbelievably powerful because of his control of chi, the living force in all things.
One day, Temugin received a package containing the severed hands of the Mandarin, bearing all the rings of power. Temugin knew that he was honor bound to fulfill his father's wishes for him. He challenged Iron Man in order to avenge his father’s death, and he proved a deadly adversary even without the rings.
After Tony Stark revealed a conspiracy for mass murder in his own ranks, Temugin appeared to have forgiven Iron Man for the death of his father and to have turned to more lofty pursuits, but recent events indicate the power of the rings has corrupted his soul.
Temugin was named after his claimed ancestor Genghis Khan, whose birth name was Temugin (also spelled Temuchin, Temudjin, u also variates to ü).
Temugin is later contacted by the double-crossing Spot, who promptly hands over a super-weapon that MODOK had been planning to steal. In this appearance, Temugin speaks of the Mandarin as "My Late Father", and bears the Rings, one of which he uses to imprison Spot in another dimension with nothing but money. In the following issue, the Puma tore off at least one of his hands, but despite this, he retained at least half of the rings - and possibly all, as Nightshade, who used the rings on his lost hand, was not seen with them at the end of the story.
The Mandarin has been revived in the current arc of Iron Man. Apparently he has been in a prison in central China for some time. In this story it has been revealed that he has lost his hands (most likely the hands that were sent to Temugin were, in fact, actually the Mandarin's). He has also been living with no food or water for years. His ability to survive so long without food or water is likely due to his mastery of chi. Despite being handless and starved, he was able to kill several men armed with guns via his mastery of the martial arts. His rings have been returned to him, and it has been suggested Temugin has died. His rings are being re-assimilated into his body by heating them and burning them into his spine.
After attacking Iron Man, via SHIELD - with dozens of unwitting proxies in the form of extremist splinter groups, equipped by him with hyper-advanced biological weapons - he eventually resurfaces as Tem Borjigin (yet another name of Genghis Khan), now once again sporting hands (although they are artificial).
The Mandarin has infiltrated the U.S. government via his role as CEO of Prometheus, a corporation specializing in bio-engineered weaponry. He appears to be using Extremis creator and Tony Stark's former love interest Maya Hansen to produce an army of Extremis enhanced soldiers as well as financing and arming terrorists around the globe. The Mandarin also appears to plan unleashing the Extremis virus in aerosol form on the public, expecting the 97.5% fatality ratio to cause a mass catastrophe of deaths. The Mandarin admits to Hansen that even he will die in the outbreak but she and those with the gene to survive will become free from disease and become effectively immortal. Though he has his Extremis disabled, Iron Man defeats the Mandarin while wearing the Silver Centurion armor by tearing the rings out of the Mandarin's spine, and then freezing him to death. Iron Man then prevents the Extremis-outbreak.
But when the Mandarin's apparently frozen body is autopsied, all that is found is a blackened husk... not unlike an Extremis chrysalis.
Enter the Mandarin
The Mandarin appeared in Iron Man - Enter the Mandarin in 2007 which is an expanded and modified retelling from his earliest appearances in Tales of Suspense.
Powers & Abilities
The Mandarin is a superb athlete with tremendous skill in the various martial arts. Through repeated practice he has toughened all the striking surfaces of his body, especially his hands, which are covered with thick calluses. He can even split Iron Man's magnetic-beam reinforced alloy armor with repeated blows. So great is the Mandarin's martial arts ability that he can even survive years without food and water, apparently sustaining himself purely via his mastery of Chi. The precise degree of The Mandarin's martial art powers has been the subject of multiple implied retcons by Marvel comics. Initially Mandarin was portrayed as being such a superhumanly skilled martial artist that he could destroy Iron Man's armor with his bare hands. Later portrayals focused on his use of the rings, and implicitly retconned the Mandarin's skill to being great but no longer superhuman. The most recent continuity has restored Mandarin's martial arts ability to its original superhuman level.
The Mandarin is one of Marvel Earth's greatest scientific geniuses, and highly skilled in various sciences. Not only has he made himself into an expert authority on alien Makluan science, but he has also built upon this knowledge by making further discoveries based upon it.
The principal personal weapons of the Mandarin are the ten rings which he wears on the fingers of each hand. The rings' operations cannot be explained by contemporary Earth science, but it is known that they served as near-limitless power sources for the warp-drive engines of the Makluan starship of Axonn-Karr. The Mandarin learned how to convert the rings to his personal uses and to make them respond to his mental commands. The fingers on which he wears each ring, and the known functions for which he uses each ring, are given below.
Left Little finger — "Zero," the ice blast ring, emits waves of intense cold which can be used to stun an opponent. The ring usually causes the air in the path of its blast to turn to ice, and can lower an object's temperature to nearly absolute zero. With it he could encase foes in bands of ice or create walls of ice to block pursuer.
Left Ring finger — "Liar", the mental-intensifier ring, which amplifies the Mandarin's own mental energies and allows him to control the minds of others, with a limit of one person at a time at a distance of ten feet. Can also be used to create illusions. As proven by Psylocke, if the wearer of the ring is a natural telepath, the ring will enhance their abilities far beyond a wearer without telepathy.
Left Middle finger — "Lightning," the electro blast ring, emits electricity in amounts and intensities mentally determined by the wearer. The maximum voltage attainable is not known.
Left Index finger — "Incandescence", the flame blast ring, emits infrared radiation, or heat, at intensities mentally determined by the wearer. Usually the heat produces flame through incandescing the molecules in the air in the path of the blast. The heat beam can be used to trigger chemical explosions.
Left Thumb — "Daimonic" the white light ring, can emit various forms of energy along the electromagnetic spectrum, often a laser-like beam. Can also create gravity sufficiently powerful to make Iron Man bury himself simply by trying to walk forward.
Right Thumb — "Ramaker," the matter rearranger ring, which can rearrange the atoms and molecules of a substance. The Mandarin usually uses this ring to change the shape of objects, such as causing a giant stone hand to erupt out of the earth and grapple a foe, and turning a mountain into a giant rock monster. He has, however, used it to transmute the molecular composition of objects, such as changing the air around a target into a poisonous gas and can also speed up or slow down molecular movement so as to alter states of matter like turning water vapor into liquid water. Has also been used to turn someone into a beetle, and to turn someone into stone. It has failed to rearrange Iron Man's magnetic forcebeam reinforced armor.
Right Index finger — "Influence," the impact beam ring, can project various forms of energy, most frequently that of fast neutrons with immense concussive force, sufficient to send James Rhodes in Iron Man armor flying through a mountain and thousands of miles past it. The ring has also been used to project intense sonic vibrations and to create magnetic and gravitational waves to attract or repel objects and people. The ring may be capable of emitting other forms of energy as well.
Right Middle finger — "Spin" Vortex Beam," causes the air to move about at high speed in a vortex. The vortex can be used as an offensive weapon, as a means of levitating objects, or as a means of propelling Mandarin through the air.
Right Ring finger — "Spectral," the disintegration beam, emits a beam of energy that destroys all bonds between the atoms and molecules of the object it strikes. This ring needs twenty minutes to recharge after use.
Right Little finger — "Nightbringer", the black light ring, can create an area of absolute blackness that seems to absorb all light used within it. Although "black light" is a term used to refer to ultraviolet radiation, the darkness created by the ring is probably a form of the "darkforce" used by Cloak, Darkstar, and the Shroud. This darkforce can also be used to imprison and repel an enemy of Iron Man-level strength at least briefly.
Over the years through mental discipline achieved through meditation and long practice in use of the rings, the Mandarin has established a strong psionic link with his ten power rings, which was made many times stronger during the period in which his mind/spirit actually inhabited them. One result is that no one who wears the rings other than the Mandarin himself can command them without his permission. The Mandarin can now command the rings even when they are separated from him by vast distances. He can mentally monitor events taking place near a ring that has been separated from him. Continued exposure to the alien rings made his hands green and scaly. He can voluntarily give temporary control over a ring to his servants, however. If the servant dies or falls unconscious, the rings teleport back to the Mandarin. Conversely, if the Mandarin himself is knocked out, all the rings automatically return to him. On one occasion, this left the Mandarin's servants powerless to stop some of Tony Stark's employees, that the Mandarin had kidnapped, from escaping.
The Mandarin also briefly used a force-field generator, but this is not part of his standard weaponry.
He has also used a head band enabling him to transfer his mind into his rings or into another's body, and a teleportation device hidden on his person, both examples of Makluan technology.
The Mandarin is a brilliant administrator, master tactician and strategist. He also abides by a very strict code of honor. When he attempted to stop Stark Enterprises from establishing itself in Hong Kong, the Mandarin challenged Iron Man to a duel, stating that if he won, he would take control of Stark Enterprises' Hong Kong operations, and that he would cease hindering Stark's activities if he lost. When Iron Man defeated him in fair combat, he lived up to his end of the agreement. On another occasion, he killed one of his minions for attempting to drug him during a practice session, angry that one of his students would use such dishonorable tactics.
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