Iron Man Villain: The Mandarin

Tales of Suspense 54: Iron Man vs Mandarin
One of the buzz going on after Iron Man 2 is the potential villain for Iron Man 3.  The strongest contender and fan favorite seems to be The Mandarin, Iron Man's prime archenemy in the comic books.

For one, I'm kinda surprise that Jon Favreau did not use the Mandarin in the first place.  Most other superhero movies, with the exception of Ang Lee's Hulk and the Punisher, include the superhero's primary antagonist in their first movies.  Lex Luthor for Superman, Joker for Batman, Green Goblin for Spider-Man, Red Skull for Captain America, Loki for Thor, Doctor Doom for Fantastic Four, and Magneto for X-Men.  Hector Hammond is the primary villain for Green Lantern's first movie, but Sinestro, Green Lantern's main archvillain, plays a major role and is clearly set up to be the next villain.

For the Mandarin, there hasn't been any strong signal from the movie makers that he even exists.  All references to him are simply hints that fans are reading into, specifically, from the group of terrorists who kidnapped Tony Stark in the first movie.

In any case, the Mandarin will make a perfect movie villain for Iron Man.  Thus far, the biggest challenge that Tony Stark has faced are his personal demons, namely, alcoholism and his imperfect artificial heart that could end his life anytime.

Obadiah Stane and Whiplash have not been convincing that they can put a hurt on Iron Man.  Perhaps it's because they rely on technology to match up against Iron Man.  Sadly for them, Tony Stark is among the top brains in the world when it comes to building weapon arsenals and armors.  Nothing that Obadiah Stane and Whiplash could make would outgun Tony Stark.  Making things to blow shit up is Stark's game.

The Mandarin, on the other hand, according to the comic books, receives his powers from alien technology that he discovered in the forbidden "Valley of Spirits."  Through the alien technology, the Mandarin is able to emit disintegration beam, flame blast, project psionic energy, and more rays of destruction.  He has something that Tony Stark does not have, powers from another world.

They (the movie makers) could also go the route of the animated movie, The Invincible Iron Man, where the Mandarin's power was mystic-based, pitting technology vs. magic.

Either way would be cool.