So, the real Mandarin isn’t the cowardly con man played by Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3 , but Hong Kong’s very own Tony Leung Chiu-wai, in the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings . However, Marvel Studios has disavowed any connection between Leung’s villainous character and Dr Fu Manchu, whose copyright the comic book publisher lost back in the early 1980s. This has not saved Leung from being criticised by “woke” warriors in North America and nationalistic netizens in China. A fictional British creation long taken to be the epitome of the “yellow peril” paranoia of the West about the Chinese threat early in the last century, Fu Manchu has, more recently, been almost universally denounced as one of the worst fictional stereotyping of Chinese. That is true, at least with his depictions in films and comics. But I have always had a soft spot for the original arch-villain, creation of a failed criminal turned writer Arthur Henry Ward, aka Sax Rohmer. Fu’s Dr title is “real”, unlike some criminals. He is a Doctor of Science, from the University of Oxford no less. Well versed in all the dark arts, especially poisons, from the Orient, he understands the science and technology behind the weapons of mass destruction of his time and possesses the organisational resources to amass them. He loves opium, but his addiction doesn’t affect his prodigious memory and intellect. Why Marvel’s Chinese superhero Shang-Chi should only be the start Rohmer wrote: “Invest him with all the cruel cunning of the entire Eastern race, accumulated in one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present [and] of a wealthy government – which however has denied all knowledge of his existence … you have a mental picture of Dr Fu Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man.” What’s not to admire? The one who truly gets Rohmer’s Dr Fu is fellow potboiler writer Ian Fleming; Dr No, Goldfinger and Le Chiffre, among others, with their pure malignance and unlimited resources to do harm, are different versions of the Chinese evil genius, without his race. If I were Marvel, I would revitalise Fu Manchu for our troubled world. He is on par with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor James Moriarty and Dr Hannibal Lecter. The new generation of comic heroes are allowed psychological and moral complexities. But I bet the new all-Chinese Marvel cast will have none of that; rather the trite but politically correct characterisation worthy of fortune cookie messages.