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... I had a thought that would guide me for years to come. Anonymity, Tony. Thanks to you, it's been my mantra ever since, right? You simply rule from behind the scenes. Because the second you give evil a face, a Bin Laden, a Gaddafi, a Mandarin, you hand the people a target.
~ Killain confessing his plans behind the bombings to Tony Stark held captive.

Aldrich Killian, also known as The Mandarin, is the main antagonist of Iron Man 3. Killian created his own version "The Mandarin" to be a cover of his operations, was the CEO, Founder, and Owner of the technology company "A.I.M - Advanced Idea Mechanics" and was a multi-millionaire scientist and terrorist.

He was portrayed by Guy Pearce, who also portrayed Kendall Duncan and Peter Weyland in Prometheus.

Biography

Early life

Aldrich Killian

Killian before becoming a terrorist and his evil grin

Aldrich Killian grew up with a number of physical disabilities that he was never able to accept, and spent most of his life trying to overcome them in any way that he could. Killian's tenacity and blind determination in fighting for a better life were seen by some as irritating, as he often came across as obnoxious. Killian couldn’t accept the cards that he was dealt, and, as intelligent as he was, he had a real drive to change himself and became a different person.

Extremis and Becoming a Terrorist

On New Year's Eve, 1999 in Bern, Switzerland, Killian initially asked for Tony Stark's support for his project under Advanced Idea Mechanics, only to be shunned and ignored by the latter. Tony lied and said that he would meet him on the roof of the building, but never came. After his realization that Tony had ignored his proposition, Killian briefly contemplated on committing suicide. Afterwards, Killian's lonesome presence on the roof caused him to relish in his state of anonymity, in which he decided to work on his own in creating an expansive and covert business for himself.

Over the years, through his privately-funded organization A.I.M., Killian created a team to further research and develop Extremis, which imparted unusual levels of strength and resiliency to human subjects.

Iron Man 3

Manipulating the War on Terror and Creating The Mandarin

After he cured himself of his disability through Maya Hansen's research of Extremis, Killian conducted many illegal experiments, of which several resulted in the explosions of his test subjects. Killian decided to masquerade his failed experiments as terrorist attacks, but he needed someone to fulfill the role of a supposed leader; a feared terrorist who would publicly take responsibility for said "attacks".

After he researched the history of The Ten Rings, one of the most feared terrorist groups in the world, and how they were historically affiliated with the man called The "Mandarin", Killian decided to give that name to his own fake terrorist. He found the failed British actor, Trevor Slattery and paid him in money and drugs to play The Mandarin. Whenever one of Killian's experiments with Extremis failed, and caused explosions and a great number of civilian casualties, Killian's men hacked the American TV signals and relayed TV broadcasts of The "Mandarin". Surrounded with the iconography of The Ten Rings, The "Mandarin" would constantly declare that those supposed "attacks" were "another lesson" for the American people. However, neither Killian nor Slattery knew that The Mandarin was real.

Confronting Stark and His Plan

Killian approached Pepper Potts of Stark Industries to join him in the funding and research of Extremis. At first, Pepper was amazed by Killian's physical changes since she last saw him. Then, Killian began the pitch and explained Extremis by using a 3D hologram of his own brain and showed how Extremis could upgrade a person's entire DNA. However, Pepper argued that the concept would be highly weaponizable and refused. Killian said goodbye to Pepper and left Stark Industries.

By masking his illegal activities, Killian was able to conduct his experiments while perpetuating a new "War on Terror" that he could monopolize and control. When Tony publicly threatened The Mandarin, Killian answered by sending his men to attack Tony's Mansion. Upon discovering that Maya attempted to save Tony due to him holding the knowledge of perfecting Extremis, Killian decided to kidnap Pepper as leverage.

Tony was captured by Eric Savin when he discovered the truth about Trevor. Killian kept him captured and had Pepper as his hostage. Killian injected her with Extremis to further motivate and antagonize Tony to work for him. With Tony's continued refusal to help him, Killian decided to leave him in captivity while keeping Pepper as his personal "trophy". When Maya had a change of heart and tried to convince Killian to set Tony free by threatening to overdose of Extremis, Killian casually shot and killed her.

Killian's soldiers also managed to capture Colonel James Rhodes, as Killian needed to use The Iron Patriot armor to kidnap President Matthew Ellis. Killian used his Extremis powers to slowly heat up The Iron Patriot Suit until Rhodes was forced to leap out and tried and fought his way out. Killian used his fire breath to stop Rhodes, who was so shocked, that he gave up.

The Battle on the Norco and Abducting President Ellis

After his men abducted President Ellis, Killian planned to orchestrate a live feed by showing the murder of Ellis, only for Tony and Rhodes to interrupt and attack their base with the help of Tony's J.A.R.V.I.S. controlled Iron Man Suits. In the ensuing battle, Tony finally found Pepper, only for her to be trapped under debris. Before Tony was able to rescue her, an angry Killian attacked him with Tony distracting him to rescue Pepper.

While Pepper seemingly died after falling to her apparent death, Killian approached Tony for a one-on-one battle. The two engaged in a brutal fight with Tony switching between various Iron Man Suits as Killian destroyed each one after another. Since Tony was unable to attach any more extra armor onto himself, J.A.R.V.I.S. sent the Mark 42 Prototype to aid him in his battle. Tony then kinetically attached the armor onto Killian to stall his movements. After he commanded the suit to pin Killian against the wall, Tony then activated the Mark 42's self-destruct function, which seemingly blew Killian up in the process.

Demise

The Mandarin 1

Killian proclaiming himself as The True Mandarin moments before his death

However, thanks to his Extremis powers, Killian survived the explosion, and after the complex in which the two were fighting was demolished, he confronted the battered Tony. Advancing towards Tony, Killian was proud of his crimes, asserted to be The "Mandarin" himself, and elaborated that the two should stop wearing "false faces". Just before Killian was able to attack Tony, Pepper attacked him from behind, and survived her fall with the help of her newfound Extremis abilities. Just before Killian was able to retaliate, Pepper ripped a repulsor arm from the Mark X Suit, attached it to herself, utilized its capabilities, and finally killed Killian.

Character Traits

By injecting the Extremis formula into himself, Killian's disability had been cured and he was able to utilize its full power, and thereby granted him super strength, durability, heat-based abilities, and high-speed regeneration. Killian was shown as being able to breathe fire akin to that of a dragon. Killian's body was adorned with dragon tattoos, which fueled his claim about being The "Real Mandarin".

Essentially a foil to Tony in terms of personality, Killian was described as one of Tony's very own demons, in which Killian was a "mistake" that Tony had committed in his old life. Initially describing himself as one of Tony's greatest fans, Killian grew to resent him after he was shunned by the latter. While Justin Hammer wanted to be seen as Tony's superior, Killian wanted to be just like him, and originally idolized Tony. Acting as a parallel to Tony, Killian was obsessive, arrogant, and immature in his dealings. Killian saw his creations not as a distraction, but as his purpose, as he sought to exploit war and death for profit. He also desired the women who were associated with Tony, hired Maya Hansen and killed her when she displayed feelings for Tony, as well as described Pepper as his "trophy." Killian's goals revolved around wanting to punish Tony by systematically giving him the same sense of desperation that he felt 13 years ago.

Powers and Abilities

Powers

Thanks to Extremis, Killian displayed various superhuman abilities, such as being able to regrow entire body parts, strength, an enhanced healing factor, a touch that was able to melt Iron Man's Armor, and, at one point, channeled the heat that was produced by Extremis to spit fire at Colonel Rhodes. Killian was highly-skilled in martial arts, in which he was able to effectively tear through many of Iron Man Suits with ease and even bested Tony in melee combat.

  • Superhuman Strength: Extremis enhanced Killian's muscles to the point of being able to tear several Iron Man Armors with his bare hands.
  • Enhanced Agility and Reflexes: Every time that Killian battled with Tony on The Narco, we could saw that he had both reflexes and great agility from Tony's blasts.
  • Regenerative Healing Factor: Killian used Extremis to heal his previous disabilities, as it was the primary original intention of Extremis. He was able to heal superficial wounds almost immediately, and regrew severed limbs in a matter of seconds.
  • Exothermic Manipulation: Hosts of Extremis were able to consciously raise the temperature of parts of their bodies. The effect could be controlled to the extent that it might only scorch skin, or increased to the point where it could cause steel to turn into a molten state.
  • Fire Breathing: An advanced control of Extremis granted Killian the ability to breath fire, and he used it as an offensive power against Colonel Rhodes when he took control of The Iron Patriot.

Abilities

  • Genius Level Intellect: Killian was a totally sophisticated genius.
  • Master Scientist: Killian started to study many scientific fields in order to cure himself from his disability and managed to get revenge on Tony by successfully becoming a great scientist.
  • Expert Businessman: Killian was able to turn A.I.M., a privately funded think-tank, into the primary systems contractor for the United States Armed Forces and the United States Government.
  • Expert Martial Artist: With Extremis genetic technology, Killian was a powerful martial artist.

Relationships

Family

  • Unnamed Father

Allies

Enemies

  • Stark Industries
    • Tony Stark/Iron Man - Former Idol turned Enemy
    • Pepper Potts - Former Employee and Friend turned Enemy and Killer
  • Maya Hansen † - Former Co-Worker-turned Enemy and Victim
  • James Rhodes/Iron Patriot
  • Matthew Ellis

Gallery

Quotes

Beginnings

Mr. Stark! Oh, wow! Hey, Tony! Aldrich Killian. I'm a big fan of your work!
~ Killian meeting Tony and Maya and introducing himself to them
Well, of course, but, Miss Hansen, my organisation's been tracking your research since year two of MIT.
~ Killian telling Maya that his organisation has been tracking her research
Well, now, that is an appropriate question.The ground floor, actually, of a proposal I'm putting together myself. It's a privately funded think tank called Advanced Idea Mechanics.
~ Killian offering Tony and Maya to join his organisation Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM)
"Advanced Idea Mechanics" or "AIM" for short. Do you get it?
~ Killian saying acronym letters of the name of his organisation
(Tony: I'm titillated by the notion of working with you.) Yeah? (Tony: I'll ditch these clowns. I'll see you up on the roof in five minutes. Just gonna try and get my beak wet real quick. You know what I'm talking about?) I'll see you up there. (Tony: Damn betcha.)
~ Killian believing Tony's lie that he would see him up in the roof in five minutes
What would you regard as the defining moment of your life? (Chad: Well, uh, I think that would be the day I decided not to let my injury beat me.) Will you please state your name for the camera? (Brandt: Ellen Brandt.) Okay. So, the injections are administered periodically. Addiction will not be tolerated. And those who cannot regulate will be out from the programme. Once misfits, cripples... You are the next iteration of human evolution.
~ Killian interviewing the candidates for EXTREMIS
Everybody, before we start I promise you, looking back at your life, there will be nothing as bitter as the memory of that glorious risk you prudently elected to forego. Today is your glory. Let's begin. We gotta get out of here! We gotta get out of here! Get her out! Get them out of here!
~ Killian during the injection test of his candidates for EXTREMIS

Present Day

Pepper. (Pepper: Killian?) You look great. You really look great. (Pepper: God, you look great. L... I... I... What on earth have you been doing?) Nothing fancy. Just five years in the hands of physical therapists. And please, call me Aldrich.
~ Killian reunites with Pepper
After years dodging the President's ban on "immoral" biotech research, my think tank now has a little something in the pipeline. It's an idea we like to call EXTREMIS. I'm gonna turn your lights down. Regard the human brain. Uh... Wait, hold on, hold on. That's... That's the universe. My bad. But if I do that... That's the brain. Strangely mimetic, though, wouldn't you say? (Pepper: Wow, that's amazing.) Thanks, it's mine. (Pepper: What?) This. You're inside my head. It's a... It's a live feed. Come on up, I'll prove it to you. Come on. Now, pinch my arm. I can take it. Pinch me. (Pepper: What is that?) It's the primary somatosensory cortex. It's the brain's pain centre. But this is what I wanted to show you. Now, EXTREMIS harnesses our bioelectrical potential and it goes here. This is essentially an empty slot and what this tells us is that our mind, our entire DNA, in fact, is destined to be upgraded. (Pepper: Wow.)


~ Killian explaining EXTREMIS to Pepper and showing her his human brain
Imagine if you could hack into the hard drive of any living organism and recode its DNA. (Pepper: That would be incredible) Hmm. (Pepper: Unfortunately, to my ears, it also sounds highly weaponisable. As in, enhanced soldiers, private armies, and Tony is...) Tony, Tony. You know, I invited Tony to join AIM 13 years ago. He turned me down. But something tells me now there's a new genius on the throne who doesn't have to answer to Tony anymore and who has slightly less of an ego. (Pepper: It's gonna be a no, Aldrich. As much as I'd like to help you.)
~ Killian inviting Pepper to join AIM only for her to reject his offer as it would be highly weaponisable
Well, I can't say that I'm not disappointed. But then, as my father used to say, "Failure is the fog through which we glimpse triumph". (Pepper: That's very deep.) Hmm. (Pepper: And I have no idea what it means.) No, me neither. He was kind of an idiot, my old man. I'm sure I'll see you again, Pepper.
~ Killian expressing his disappointment on Pepper rejecting his offer but assuring her that he will see her again
(Savin: Well, we took the house down, sir. But there's no sign of a body.) Mmm-hmm. I see. (Savin: No Stark.) I have to go. The master is about to record and he's a little... Well, you know how he gets. Keep your appointment tonight and call me when it's done.
~ Killian ordering the death of Tony Stark
All right, everybody. No talking and no eye contact. Unless you want to get shot in the face.
~ Killian ordering to the crew not to talk or making eye contact with Trevor
Hi, Pepper. So, you want to tell me why you were at Stark's mansion last night? (Maya: I'm trying to fix this thing. I didn't know you and the master were gonna blow the place up.) Oh, I see. So, you were trying to save Stark when he threatened us? (Maya: I've told you, Killian, we can use him.) Pepper. Pepper. Pepper. (Maya: Look, if we want to launch product next year, I need Stark. He just lacked a decent incentive. Now, he has one.)
~ Killian kidnapping Pepper and confronting Maya by demanding to know what was she doing at Stark's mansion
You know what my old man used to say to me? One of his favorite of many sayings. "The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese". (Tony: You're not still pissed off about the Switzerland thing, are you?) How can I be pissed off at you Tony? I'm here to thank you. You gave me the greatest gift that anybody's ever given me. Desperation. If you think back to Switzerland, you said you'd meet me on the rooftop, right? Well, for the first 20 minutes, I actually thought you'd show up. And the next hour I considered taking that one-step shortcut to the lobby. If you know what I mean. (Tony: Honestly, I'm still trying to figure out what happened to the first mouse.)
~ Killian discussing about Switzerland with Tony
But as Iooked out over that city, nobody knew I was there, nobody could see me, no one was even looking. I had a thought that would guide me for years to come. Anonymity, Tony. Thanks to you, it's been my mantra ever since. Right? You simply rule from behind the scenes. Because the second you give evil a face, a bin Laden, a Gaddafi, a Mandarin, you hand the people a target.
~ Killian explaining his plans to Tony
You have met him, I assume? (Tony: Yes. Sir Laurence Oblivier.) I know he's a little over the top sometimes. It's not entirely my fault. He has a tenden-- He's a stage actor. They say his Lear was the toast of Croydon, wherever that is. Anyway, the point is, ever since that big dude with the hammer fell out of the sky, subtlety has kind of had its day.
~ Killian talking about Trevor Slattery who is posing as the Mandarin
(Tony: What's next for you in your world?) Well, I wanted to repay you the selfsame gift that you so graciously imparted on me. Desperation. Now, this is live. I'm not sure if you can tell, but at this moment the body is trying to decide whether to accept EXTREMIS or just give up. And if it gives up, I have to say, the detonation is quite spectacular. But until that point, it's really just a lot of pain. We haven't even talked salary yet. What kind of perk package are you thinking of?
~ Killian antagonizing and torturing Tony into working with him after he shows her that he had injected Pepper with EXTREMIS
(Maya: Let him go!) Hold on, hold on. Maya... (Maya: I said, let him go!) What are you doing? (Maya: 1200 CCs. A dose half of this size, I'm dead.) It's times like this my temper is tested somewhat. Maya, give me the injector. (Maya: If I die, Killian, what happens to your soldiers? What happens to your product?) We're not doing this, okay? (Maya: What happens to you, what happens if you go too hot?)
~ Killian trying to change Maya's mind when she has a change of heart and threatens to overdose EXTREMIS on herself but he quickly gets bored and casually shoots and kills her
The good news is, a high-level position has just been vacated. (Tony: You are a maniac.) No, I'm a visionary. But I do own a maniac. And he takes the stage tonight.
~ Killian jokingly commenting that with Maya dead a high ranking position within AIM was now available causing Tony to call him a maniac to which he responds by claiming that he is a visionary but also the owner of a "maniac" who would be broadcasting again to the world tonight
(Savin: Once we get the Patriot installed, it will take me nine or 10 minutes for the takedown.) Well, that's great, but the last time I looked there was somebody inside of it. Afternoon, gentlemen. Hello, Colonel. Step aside. (Rhodes: Oh!) We'll get you out of there. Don't worry. (Savin: You'll damage the armour.) Yes, I will. But you can fix it, right? I'm gonna take the Chinook to base camp. And I want Potts with me. (Savin: She's still in Phase Two. ) You're not going deaf, are you?
~ Killian and Savin trying to force Rhodes out of the Iron Patriot suit
Are you coming out? (Rhodes: Do not open. Do not open. Don't open. Don't open. All right. Let's go. You... You breathe fire? Okay.) It's a glorious day, Savin. This time tomorrow, I'll have the West's most powerful leader in one hand, and the world's most feared terrorist in the other. I'll own the war on terror. Create supply and demand. For you, for your brothers and sisters.
~ Killian ranting about how he now had control over the War of Terror and would create supply and demand for the weaponry
Hi. (Pepper: You think he's gonna help you? He won't.) Having you here is not just to motivate Tony Stark. It's, um... Well, it's actually more embarrassing than that. You're here as my, um... (Pepper: Trophy.) Mmm.
~ Killian confessing to Pepper that she's there as his trophy
Good evening, sir. Welcome aboard, Mr. President. Ever heard of an elephant graveyard? Well, two years ago, the elephant in the room was this scow. (President Ellis: This is the Roxxon Norco). And, of course, you'll remember that when she spilled a million gallons of crude off Pensacola, thanks to you, not one fat cat saw a day in court. (President Ellis: What do you want from me?) Uh, nothing, sir. I just needed a reason to kill you that would play well on TV. You see, I've moved on. I found myself a new political patron, and this time tomorrow, he'll have your job. String him up.
~ Killian greeting President Ellis and explaining how he intended to use the image of Roxxon's ship the Norco that was responsible for accidentally spilling a million gallons of crude oil off the coast of Pensacola, Florida and planning to publicly kill him on TV
Okay, that's good. Now give me cameras A through E and we'll do a full tech rehearsal.
~ Killian ordering a female technician to give him cameras A through E to do a rehearsal of President Ellis' death
Is this guy bothering you? Don't get up. Ooh. Is it hot in there? Stuck? Do you feel a little stuck? Like a little turtle, cooking in his little turtle suit. (Pepper: Oh, Tony.) She's watching. I think you should close your eyes. Close your eyes. Close your eyes, you don't want to see this.
~ Killian mocking Tony's attempt to save Pepper and taunting him when he melts his suit when he is about to kill him
A shame. I would've caught her.
~ Killian teasing Tony after failing to save Pepper from her apparent demise
Well, here we are on the roof.
~ Killian referencing his supposed past encounter with Tony in Switzerland
You really didn't deserve her, Tony. It's a pity. I was so close to having her perfect.
~ Killian continuing to mock Stark by noting that he almost had Pepper perfect before she had died
NOOO!!!
~ Killian screaming in defeat when Tony attempts to blow him up by activating the Mark 42's self-destruction
No more false faces. You said you wanted the Mandarin. You're looking right at him. It was always me, Tony. Right from the start. I AM THE MANDARIN!!!
~ Killian's final words to Tony after proclaiming himself as the true Mandarin moments before being killed by Pepper

Trivia

  • The Marvel One-Shot All Hail the King suggests that Aldrich Killian did not actually invent the identity of The Mandarin, and instead stole the alias from the actual leader of the Ten Rings. The film's depiction of Killian was initially described by Shane Black as the Marvel Cinematic Universe's version of The Mandarin, but the release of said short has suggested otherwise; in the comics, Killian was a scientist who helped develop the Extremis Virus, sent it to a terrorist group, and committed suicide later on. The version of Killian seen in the film is an amalgamation of himself, MODOK (as leader of AIM) and the modern incarnation of the Mandarin; meaning that the All Hail the King one-shot most likely hints at a more traditional version of the character.
    • Interestingly, despite not even being the true bearer of the name of the Mandarin, said alias is the only one directly used by a villain in the entirety of the Iron Man trilogy.
  • In the non-canonical video game, Iron Man 3 - The Official Game it was revealed that Killian's consciousness had been 'downloaded' by A.I.M. prior to his physical death and was uploaded into a new, enhanced form: M.O.D.O.K..
  • In the Lego Marvel Super Heroes video game, Killian worked alongside The Mandarin and Loki against Iron Man and Captain America. Curiously, in the video game, he was killed by Captain America and by Iron Man after his boss battle.
           Marvel Cinematic Universe Villains

Individuals
Movies
Iron Monger | Raza | Abomination | Thunderbolt Ross | Samuel Sterns | Whiplash | Justin Hammer | Senator Stern | Loki Laufeyson | Destroyer | Laufey | Jasper Sitwell | Red Skull | Arnim Zola | Heinz Kruger | Thanos | The Other | Aldrich Killian | Eric Savin | Ellen Brandt | Vice President Rodriguez | Maya Hansen | Mandarin | Malekith the Accursed | Kurse/Algrim the Strong | Alexander Pierce | Winter Soldier | Crossbones | Georges Batroc | Wolfgang von Strucker | Ronan the Accuser | Nebula | Korath the Pursuer | Yondu Udonta | Collector | Ultron | Ultron Sentinels | Scarlet Witch | Quicksilver | Ulysses Klaue | Yellowjacket | Mitchell Carson | Helmut Zemo | Kaecilius | Lucian | Dormammu | Ego | Ayesha | Taserface | Vulture | Tinkerer | Jackson Brice | Herman Schultz | Mac Gargan | Aaron Davis
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