Every superhero has their perfect villain. Be it Batman doing battle with the Joker, Superman facing off against Lex Luthor, the quintessential villain tells us more about our favorite heroes than any number of side-characters could. For Iron Man, that villain is The Mandarin, the brilliant, evil mastermind and possessor of the ten rings. After two movies, however, he has yet to show up, his presence merely "felt" in the first one, but completely ignored in the second. That may very well change in Iron Man 3.

Speaking with MTV, director Jon Favreau all-but-confirmed that the Mandarin will be the villain for the third film, but doesn't yet know how the character will be presented. This is largely due to Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers all coming out in the next two years and Favreau not knowing what the status of the world will be by the time he is ready for the next installment. In the comics, The Mandarin has supernatural powers given to him by the Ten Rings, a set discovered in an alien ship, but, with the Iron Man films set in a heightened reality, magic doesn't really have its place. Fortunately, Thor may give the director some leeway.

"He has 10 magical rings — that just doesn't feel right for our thing. So it's either tech-based, or the rings are not really rings. But maybe with Thor and all those others, you'll introduce magic to that world and it won't seem so out of place."

Portraying the Mandarin in the movies certainly will present difficulties - starting with his name if the character becomes Middle Eastern - but it would also be an important move for the franchise. In the first two films, Tony Stark has come face to face with his biggest fear: the proliferation of his technology in the hands of those that want to use it for evil. Obadiah Stane did it by stealing the arc reactor out of Tony's chest and Ivan Vanko did it by building his own. What's more, the technology made by imitators is always a downgrade from Iron Man, meaning that it is never really a fair fight. Unfortunately, this is a common problem in the comic book world, but something that could be righted by the inclusion of his greatest villain in the films. The use of magic or no, Mandarin needs to be the villain that Tony can't just get rid of with a simple energy blast. If done right, it could be a monumental success and finally put away the "number three" curse that has plagued superhero movies for decades.

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