A superhero’s true worth is reflected in the strength of his archenemy. This is evident in a lot of couplings, such as Batman and Joker, Superman and Lex Luthor, Captain America and Red Skull, and others. These couplings are always fun to analyze and that is why we at Fiction Horizon have decided to do one such analysis in today’s article, as we are going to compare Iron Man and Mandarin, ultimately revealing which one is stronger. Enjoy!
The Mandarin possesses a lot of different powers and abilities, but we think that Iron Man would – even objectively, i.e., disregarding the fact that the hero always wins in the end – be able to beat him due to the technological superiority of his suits and weapons.
Our comparison is going to be divided into three sections. The first is going to bring an overview of the two characters, after which we are going to compare their powers, including their signature weapons. Finally, we’re going to bring you a detailed analysis of the two characters to determine which one would win in a direct clash.
Iron Man and his powers
Iron Man is the superhero alter ego of one Anthony Edward “Tony” Stark, American billionaire, playboy, and inventor. Iron Man was collectively created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby in 1963, debuting in the comic book Tales of Suspense #39. Iron Man is a superhero from the Marvel fictional universe, known also as one of the first and best-known members of the Avengers.
Tony Stark was born as the son of industrialist Howard Stark and his wife, Maria. He was a wunderkind, entering MIT at the age of 15 and later receiving a master’s degree in engineering and physics. While he was still young, his parents died in a traffic accident, so Tony inherited his father’s company.
Initially, Iron Man was a way for Marvel to approach Cold War topics, especially the comparison of American, capitalist technology with Soviet, communist worldviews. When the Cold War ended, Iron Man became less of a political character and more of a modern superhero character.
The Iron Man suit was actually an invention of Stark’s, who is a genius engineer and inventor. On one occasion, he was kidnapped and sustained a severe chest injury. The kidnappers wanted him to build a weapon of mass destruction, which he refused and instead built a suit for himself to escape. Thus, Iron Man was born, but Tony Stark never wanted to stop with the first suit. He has constantly upgraded and improved his suits, creating enhanced versions every now and then.
Tony Stark was initially secretive about his superhero identity, but at one point he decided to go against the general comic book rule that states that the superhero should never reveal his or her name as to spare their family, friends, and others. Namely, Tony Stark decided to reveal to the whole world – not just Pepper Potts and James Rhodes – that he was actually Iron Man, which was a bold and very important moment in the history of American comics.
As for Iron Man’s appearances in derivative material, he has appeared in all forms – movies, animation, and video games – since he is one of the pillars of Marvel’s expanded universe. The most notable interpretation of Iron Man is Robert Downey Jr.’s from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Mandarin and his powers
The Mandarin is a supervillain from the Marvel universe created by writer Stan Lee and artist Don Heck. He first appeared in the Tales of Suspense #50 comic book in 1964. The Mandarin is described as a genius scientist and an extremely gifted martial artist.
However, his main sources of power are ten Power Rings which he adapted from alien technology from a crashed spacecraft. Each ring has a different power and is worn on a specific finger. According to the account he himself gave to Iron Man and to all those to whom he told his origins, the man named the Mandarin is a former Chinese magistrate from Shanghai.
Son of an English aristocrat and a rich Chinese before the communist revolution, who claimed to be a descendant of Genghis Khan. Thus, the Mandarin always claimed to be a descendant of the founder of Mongolian civilization.
The Mandarin’s parents died soon after the revolution and their son was taken in by his paternal aunt, an alcoholic woman and bitter with everyone, including her nephew. During his youth, the Mandarin quickly squandered the family fortune he had inherited from his father. When he reached adulthood, he was expelled by the government because he could no longer pay the taxes linked to his ancestral home.
It turns out, in fact, that the one who would later become the Mandarin is in fact from the village of Habuquan in Inner Mongolia and is the son of an English prostitute addicted to opium and who died of an overdose.
He began in crime as the leader of the local underworld; it was at this time that he began to call himself the “Mandarin”. One day, in the hope of finding a way to achieve the greatness he was looking for, he traveled to the “Valley of the Spirits”, a forbidden valley where no one dared go.
There, he discovered the wreckage of an alien spaceship that had crashed there millennia and that came from the planet Maklu IV, whose inhabitants, the Makluans, looked like Chinese dragons. Studying the technology of the ship, he discovered 10 rings, which apparently served to supply the ship with energy. Equipped with these rings and with his new knowledge, he became a conqueror, quickly so powerful that not even the Chinese army could challenge him. His ambitions quickly extended to world domination.
Comparing the powers of Iron Man and Mandarin
Our second section will contain a comparison of the two characters’ powers. It won’t be a direct comparison as much as a listing of their powers abilities, which is going to serve as a basis for our analysis in section three of our article. Now, let us begin.
Firstly, we have to state that Tony Stark is a genius-level engineer and inventor. Stark has, for the most part, invented and built everything himself; he knows how to design and build different machines, including Iron Man suits, weapons, computers, and even A.I., all of which he has built over the years.
It is exactly these Iron Man suits that have made him so powerful. Namely, Stark has a suit for almost every occasion and every type of opponent, which gives him the necessary diversity to go along with the bulked-up technology of his suits.
As far as his knowledge goes, Tony Stark is somewhat “limited” in that aspect. He knows physics and mechanics, but outside of that – he doesn’t really know that much.
This doesn’t mean he’s ignorant – on the contrary – but the extent of his knowledge is far more limited when compared to other characters, like Batman or even Spider-Man.
The Mandarin is one of the greatest scientists on Earth, not only because he manages to master Makluana science very well, but because he also manages to make great discoveries based on alien science. Although the Mandarin has no natural powers himself, he is an excellent athlete and has fearsome skills in martial arts and sword handling.
Due to the constant training, the parts of the body that he uses as weapons, especially his hands, are covered with big, hard calluses. Without outside help, he can break a log of wood, brick, and light iron with one blow of his hands. When he protects himself with a subtle but intense protective force field, he may be able to block even Iron Man’s magnetic beam and deeply scratch his early armor with the blows of his hands.
The Mandarin’s main weapons are the ten rings he wears on his fingers. Their functioning cannot be explained by contemporary science, but it is known that they are able to act as a source of energy for the very powerful engines of an Axonn-Kar spaceship.
The Mandarin has managed to convert the rings so that he can control them with his mind. Below is a list of the powers of the rings associated with the finger they are worn on:
- Left little finger (Ice Blast/”Zero”) – generates cold and can create and manipulate ice;
- Left ring finger (Mento-Intensifier/”The Liar”) – creates perfect illusions;
- Left middle finger (Electro-Blast/”Lightning”) – absorbs electrostatic energy on a planetary scale and can redirect it into very powerful electrical discharges;
- Left index finger (Flame Blast/”Incandescence”) – contains the miniaturized core of a star and can generate flames and solar flares;
- Left thumb (White Light/”Daimonic”) – increases the mental abilities of its bearer to allow it to subdue the will of others;
- Right thumb (Matter Rearranger/”Remaker”) – manipulates matter at the subatomic level;
- Right index finger (Impact Beam/”Influence”) – increases its wearer’s physical abilities such as strength and stamina;
- Middle right finger (Vortex Beam/”Spin”) – expands time around its wearer allowing it to move at very high speeds compared to normal space;
- Right ring finger (Disintegration Beam/”Spectral”) – folds the environment around its owner making it invisible. He can also fire a powerful disintegrating beam that recharges in twenty minutes;
- Right little finger (Black Light/”Nightbringer”) – can create and manipulate objects made of dark energy .
Over the years, the Mandarin establishes a strong psychological bond with his rings, which had strengthened especially during the period in which his soul had dwelt in them. A strange consequence is that no one can use the rings other than the Chinese criminal.
Now the Mandarin can command his rings and be able to see what happens around them even from great distances. Continued exposure to alien rings made his hands greenish and scaly.
Finally, since both are Marvel characters, we can consult their official numbers, as per the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z (2010):
This simple comparison has revealed two major facts. The first one, which is common knowledge, is that Tony Stark is practically useless without an Iron Man suit, save for his extraordinary intelligence, but Mandarin compares well in that aspect. The other one is that the suid makes him so much stronger than he reaches and even surpasses Mandarin’s powers in certain fields. We shall now see how these facts reflect on the characters directly.
Iron Man vs Mandarin: Who would win?
And now for the most important and interesting section of our article – the analysis. Here, we are going to use what we have found out about these two characters and analyze how all these facts would (or would not) help them in a fight against each other. We have already said that the fact that Iron Man and Mandarin are archenemies made this analysis quite interesting, and we can only add that their similarities and differences made writing this analysis even more fun. Now that we’ve cleared things up a bit, let us continue with the analysis.
Comparing their powers never revealed much to us, we have to be honest. Sure, we now know what each of them is capable of doing, but the fact is that the comic books have proven that Iron Man is capable of annulling Mandarin’s magical powers with his technology, as seen in Iron Man #100, when Tony managed to fend off Mandarin’s technology with his latest suit. On the other hand, during “The Dragon Seed” saga, Tony even had Rhodey’s help but was completely helpless against Mandarin’s dragons and the two would have lost had the dragons not rebelled against Mandarin.
History shows us that Iron Man was the more successful of the two during their epic clashes. Still, that is somewhat natural seeing that Iron Man is the hero and not the villain, but even from an objective standpoint, Iron Man’s victories actually do make sense. The Mandarin challenged him like practically no other foe, and he constantly forced him to up his game, since Mandarin would come back stronger after every “death”.
The “Revenge of the Mandarin” storyline is a good example of such an evolution, but the storyline from Invincible Iron Man #516-527 is an even better example, as Mandarin’s war factory forced Iron Man not only to up his own game, but also to unify a lot of his former foes (e.g. Obadiah Stane) to stop the Mandarin.
Iron Man was successful during all of these battles and that is why we think that he is the winner of our comparison.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we have given you all the information you were looking for. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!