Originally Posted by Webfoot Hero
Make them sort of like an al-Qaeda or Taliban-like group that's been fighting Western influences for many years now. I could see that working quite well within the domain of the IM movies.
Yea like that but a step further where he's had his hands in everything, he's the one that stoked the embers of unrest and made them burst into revolutions and attacks all over the world. The ten rings are basically a union through the mandarin of The Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other top terrorist groups throughout the last 40/50 years. It sets up how dangerous he is pretty easily without showing the evil things he's done...helps make him even more mysterious. In IM1 Yinsen talked about all the different languages he heard while he was there so they already laid the groundwork that this is a global group.
I kinda hope that for now his rings have no powers, and that be a development at the end of the movie. So IM3 he has the big terrorist group at his disposal, and they are defeated. But near the end he gets a hold of the alien tech to craft what we know his rings do in the comics to set up IM4 where he is really powerful but on his own. That'd be a really cool arch for him to take and allow them to use the Madarin as Tony's arch-nemesis twice but in two really different ways.