|Counter-clockwise from left: Ming the Merciless by Hal Foster, Flash Gordon,
March 15 1936; Dr. Julius No as played by Joseph Wiseman, Dr. No, 1962;
The Mandarin by Don Heck, Tales of Suspense #50, February 1964.
So here's a snapshot of an unusual and short-lived trend in animated adaptions. You had these villainous characters across three franchises who were inspired by the original "insidious Oriental," pulp villain Dr. Fu Manchu: Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon, Dr. Julius No in James Bond, and the Mandarin in Marvel Comics' Iron Man. All were fairly major antagonists - two were essentially the heroes' arch-villains. You couldn't leave them out of an animated adaption, but their original portrayals were maybe not so audience-friendly in more enlightened times. What do you do?
Apparently, you make them green.
|"Someone broke my vase! That's
from MY dynasty!"
|"Yes! With this green skin, my elf ears,
and the gems I stole from a spaceship
belonging to an alien dragon, the world
shall fear me as... a bureaucrat of
|"With my new skin tone, no
one will suspect I'm a racist
Were these character alterations related? Defenders of the Earth and Iron Man were both by Marvel Productions, but produced almost ten years apart - and James Bond Jr. was by a different studio entirely, Murakami-Wolf-Swenson. No, at best, it seems to have been a very strange series of coincidences: to avoid propagating Yellow Peril stereotypes, these three villains became part of the Mean Green Machine.
Which is probably still better than being on the Green Team, all things considered.