Last time, we saw the fall of Tony Stark, and the infancy of his rise back to the top. This time, we’ll see that rise begin to take off properly.
Having been buoyed up by Yinsen, Stark has found some purpose, as the opening scenes of this section shows. The previously dark, silent cave that he is a prisoner in is suddenly filled with people and voices. The men holding Stark and Yinsen are as busy as an anthill, dragging boxes and crates of material into the cave, the air abuzz with the noise of many voices. Some vaguely Afghan sounding percussion, mixed with some occasional twangs of an electric guitar, play in the background.
Stark has no eyes for them. He speaks to Abu Bakaar, but isn’t looking at him either. He’s surveying plans (making a few of his own I would imagine). Tony Stark might be in a cave, but the old arrogant man who was better than everyone else is starting to come back. He talks rapidly here, not even pausing at moments to aid Yinsen in his translation:
lf this is going to be my work station, I want it well-lit. I want these up. I need welding gear. I don’t care if it’s acetylene or propane. I need a soldering station. I need helmets. I’m gonna need goggles. I would like a smelting cup. I need two sets of precision tools.
Tony clearly has some definite plans made already, and has a very long list of things that he needs. But does he really need all of these things to construct the Jericho missile, or is it all just misdirection? Yinsen babbles the translation as fast as he can, struggling to be heard over Tony and the crowd of people behind him. Stark, aside from being in the centre of frame, caught between the two polar opposite men, is once again the centre of the universe.
After a brief establishing shot showing the cave entrance as being guarded by several armed men, we’re back in Tony and Yinsen’s cell at a quieter moment. The camera pans across one of the missiles emblazoned with “Stark Industries”. Before, the glimpses of this was a moment of dread for Stark and the audience, but the way that this shot is framed makes the whole thing look a bit sleeker and cooler, a piece of engineering wonderment in the middle of a craggy and prehistoric cave structure.
As the following scene (and scenes) progress, Stark works away at the missile. A lot has changed in a few minutes. Stark already looks neater and more handsome: the grungy outer clothing has been ditched in favour of a looser white shirt, his hair has been set back so his face doesn’t look as grimy and overcast with untidiness. Stark, in fact, looks much as he did earlier on in the film when he was working on the hot rod in his garage, a grease monkey with style, matched by an intense look on his face as he works, focused almost entirely on the thing he is building – or in this case, pulling apart. He also talks to Yinsen in much the same way as he did with Pepper, not even looking at him directly, the conversation almost superfluous to the thing that he is working on. I suppose that is fair enough though, it is a shell containing highly explosive material. He carefully takes off the head of the missile as he talks, removing a long trail of electronics and, presumably, the parts that go boom, doing so carefully, but with an ease and familiarity that indicates Stark is well used to work like this.
As Tonty works, he and Yinsen have an important conversation, which opens with an important question:
How many languages do you speak?
Remember, at this point Tony doesn’t even know Yinsen’s name. It’s an odd question to ask before knowing his identity. I think it signals that Stark is simply taking stock of the resources that are available to him for his inevitable escape attempt: what Yinsen can do and what he can speak is more important than his name at the present moment.
A lot. But apparently, not enough for this place. They speak Arabic, Urdu, Dari, Pashto, Mongolian, Farsi, Russian.
Interesting. Leaving aside another sign of Yinsen’s education and intelligence, it would seem that Tony has been abducted by a pan-national group of terrorists. But even allowing for that, this is a lot of nationalities and languages. Such groups are usually only successful when they combine a political goal with some sense of common identity. Who are these guys then, with a make-up that seems more in line with a mercenary group?
Who are these people?
They are your loyal customers, Sir.
A great exchange there. Tony asks the question almost flippantly, and Yinsen has a prepared response for him. There is rarely any sense in Yinsen’s language that he has a distaste for Stark and what he makes his money doing, but a little bit does show here, at least insofar as Yinsen is annoyed at how these men are arming themselves, though it only shows itself through a sad half smile. It’s a figurative smack in the face for Stark too, who stops what he’s doing for a moment to look at Yinsen. His course as a character is to turn against the arms dealing business, and moments like this will push him along that course. He doesn’t want to be the kind of businessman with “customers” like this.
A tidbit for the fans of the comic books follows:
They call themselves the “Ten Rings”.
That will mean little to a general audience of course, but it’s the firmest nod so far towards “The Mandarin”, the closest thing that Iron Man has to an arch-nemesis in the world of the comic-books. The Mandarin is s sort of half-Chinese warlord/scientist/martial artist who traditionally gains power from ten magic rings he possesses. He is sort of mental as a character, and it’s hard to imagine him working as a bad guy on film if he was reproduced faithfully (one of the reasons Iron Man 3 would go in a different direction with him). Early treatments and drafts did have him as the films primary bad guy, but he was simply considered too dated in the end. Here, Favreau just wanted, apparently, to make a few good natured nods in his direction with this group to appease some of the more hardcore Iron Man fans in the audience.
Tony and Yinsen are observed by Bakaar and other Ten Rings members in a different part of the cave, the shots once again lingering on the camera set up where the two engineers are. Bakaar is keeping a close eye on the two, but we already knew he’s a little dim-witted. For now, Stark looks like he is messing around with missiles.
In the cave, Tony has moved on to another missile, using some power tools to get them open. A wider shot shows us Tony in greater scope than before and he is looking a hell of a lot better. Purpose will do that. Even the cave itself, better lit, is looking more homey, a bit more like Stark’s garage, just without smooth walls and the innate sense of neatness in its composition. Yinsen, as before, is a mere bystander to what Tony is doing.
You know, we might be more productive if you include me in the planning process.
Again, Tony doesn’t even look at Yinsen for this exchange, and his reaction to an offer of help is a quick, uncaring, rebuke. He’s busy, and can’t let other things, or people, distract him from the task at hand. Before we saw him being careful and precise when unscrewing the heads off the missiles. Now he just casually bangs the head of this one off as if he’s breaking some wood apart. Yinsen winces as he does so, concerned, but Tony never loses any bit of the calm that has descended upon since a minute ago.
He removes a strange cylindrical component with lots of spokes, and a cut shows him cutting parts of it later. After removing something small, he casually flings the larger component over his shoulder to the ground, a brilliant moment. From starting out careful and focused, he’s know just throwing things around like they mean nothing to him.
Don’t need this.
I bet you don’t Tony. He’s seeming more and more like his old self all the time. Even Yinsen is getting used to this kind of behaviour, judging by his reaction. He asks Tony what the tiny strip of material he’s holding in the pliers is.
The camera places that piece of material dead centre of the frame, Stark staring at it with a very real intensity. Much like Yinsen earlier when he started talking about the medical procedure, Tony actually gets serious when discussing things like this.
That’s palladium, 0.15 grammes. We need at least 1 .6, so why don’t you go break down the other 11?
Palladium is a real element, a metal used in catalytic converters and various electronics. I have no idea what purpose palladium would have in a missile – I am no way knowledgeable in that field – but here it kind of just seems to serve as just a scientific term to describe the MacGuffin material Tony is going to place at the heart of his escape attempt.
Tony gives Yinsen some orders, finally getting him involved in the process. At this point, Tony overtakes Yinsen as the dominant one in their relationship. He’s making the plan, and figuring out how to get it all done correctly. Yinsen is going to tag along, and help him out with some of the labour. He’ll be the follower now, Stark no longer needs a nurse.
Their captors continue to watch through the camera feed, and remain casual about what they are seeing. I suppose it all still looks normal. I like these quick cuts to the guys watching the feed, just to give us an indication of time passing and the changing perception that the Ten Rings men have to what Tony and Yinsen are doing.
Also, in the background of this shot, Bakaar and a Ten Rings soldier seem to be playing backgammon. A minor detail, but one that will make for an interesting comparison later (as an aside, the game actually did originate in the Middle East, over 5’000 years ago).
There follows one of the most purely visual sequences of the film so far, as Stark goes about making the first part of his plan, with only some limited dialogue in the middle. Hard violin rhythms and soft percussion accompany his work, setting the tone of somebody tinkering with a project that is going to get bigger and more expansive with time (OST: “Trinkets To Kill A Prince“).
Stark, working with his hands, makes some basic moulding tools, in order to, apparently, melt down the palladium into a circular ring, something that has to be done the old fashioned way: with clay pots, red hot fires and pliers. Seeing Stark work in this fashion is important, as it is a necessary part of his recovery: actually doing something practical, without computers, or high tech garage equipment. Just the basic techniques, which have been used for a very long time.
While Stark is not taking the lead in their relationship, he’ll still need Yinsen for some of the work, especially since Stark is limited in his movements. The next shot makes that painfully clear, as he must let Yinsen carry the palladium mould across the room, fretting that Yinsen might mess it up:
Careful. Careful, we only get one shot at this.
Relax. I have steady hands. Why do you think you’re still alive?
So, Yinsen is having none of that. Tony still only has eyes for the project, but does throw Yinsen a bone when it comes to their own blossoming partnership:
What do I call you?
My name is Yinsen.
Yinsen. Nice to meet you.
Yinsen, having already gone through some rather intense experiences with Stark, seems a little thrown by this for split second. After all, he’s operated on Stark to keep him alive and shared a very terrible captivity with him. He just smiles as he replies, an indication that maybe he’s happier than he lets on about finally having somebody else to talk to and work with – towards an escape:
Nice to meet you, too.
The next few shots form a short montage, the music getting louder and more pronounced on its rhythm. Tony retrieves the circlet of palladium and merges in with another component, next he’s soldering the same piece with the aid of several tools and magnifying glasses. The feeling is of a very in-depth and intense working period, where immense concentration is needed with very small parts. What Tony is building is obviously not a Jericho missile: it’s more important than that, thus the need for such intense attentiveness to the task. With some of the films only use of fade-out visual techniques thus far, we also get the feeling of time passing without ever knowing how much exactly.
Finally, Tony is done. What he has created looks something akin to a fancy light bulb. Its round at the top but tapers slightly. Most importantly, it glows with a blue light when Tony pulls a few switches. It’s clearly drawing power from elsewhere in the room, as other lights start to flicker and darken, leaving Tony bathed in that blue aura. There is no look of triumph in his eyes, or even plain acknowledgement of success, just the same deadly serious gaze, mixed with some very slight trembling of the lip.
Yinsen, enthralled, comes to take a look at the thing that Stark has created.
That doesn’t look like a Jericho Missile.
That’s because it’s a miniaturised arc reactor. I got a big one powering my factory at home. It should keep the shrapnel out of my heart.
This is the second mention of the “Arc reactor” – it was briefly namedropped on one of the magazine covers shown in the awards presentation earlier. This is apparently some kind of powerful energy source, one that, on the right scale, can power Stark Industries.
But this is miniaturised, fitting in the palm of a hand. Making something like this – a reactor structure on such a small scale – is a very impressive achievement. Tony hasn’t made this for the Ten Rings, and one gets the feeling that he never even considered taking them up on their offer genuinely. This is for him, a method whereby he will no longer need to be hooked up to a car battery, the kind of weight that could easily foil an escape attempt. It’s also a possible long term solution for his heart problem:
But what could it generate?
lf my math is right, and it always is, three gigajoules per second.
As the two talk, their established dynamic continues. Tony is fixated on his pet project, and does not even look at the man he is addressing. Yinsen is firmly following in Tony’s footsteps now, the man asking the questions and being the audience surrogate.
For anyone who doesn’t know, a gigajoule is equal to a billion joules. To get an idea of a scale, one joule of energy is given off by your body in the form of heat every 0.017 seconds. Every two seconds of energy created by Stark’s toy is comparable to the chemical energy potential of a barrel of oil that combusts. The power output Stark just created is enormous. He treats it casually in his words, flippantly remarking that his math is “always” right – he’s still fully aware that he is a prodigy.
I’m going to get more into this at a later time, the strained suspension of disbelief that Stark could make something like this in these circumstances. It’s worth waiting for that discussion, because we ain’t seen nothing yet, not really.
That could run your heart for 50 lifetimes.
Yeah. Or something big for 15 minutes.
Tony Stark, what are you up to? Some nice foreshadowing with this line, notwithstanding the nonchalant way that Stark declares it.
Stark shows Yinsen some documents he has been working on. The initial shot is low and upwards looking, with Stark and Yinsen sharing the frame. It’s a nice way to put the focus on what they are looking at without showing it directly, and the light reflecting off Yinsen’s glasses is another neat touch, giving what they are looking at an instant mystical aura, even if the light is just a reflection from somewhere else.
It’s initially a bit underwhelming when we do see the greasy, almost transparent paper, just aimless doodles and make no sense without context. Tony is having none of that though, whispering his following dialogue with the tone of a man engaged deeply in a conspiracy:
This is our ticket out of here.
What is it?
Flatten them out and look.
Tony does it himself, and the music gets suddenly loud and thumping as the images all come together. What we are looking at is a bipedal figure of metal, sketchy looking, but imposing. It’s big, it’s armed, it looks like it means business. It’s an enticing image, but that is all that it is right now, an image.
Tony looks to Yinsen, eager for adulation. Yinsen is smiling. He’s banked a lot on Tony’s genius, and it looks like it might just pay off.
Another quick shot of the outside of the cave. Now it’s night, and now it is snowing. Time is passing, even if that passage is meaningless in the caves interior, or for the audience. Suddenly, we’re back on the grainy camera feed, an up close shot that distorts the image. Yinsen stands over a shirtless Tony. As the music swells to a height, he steps away and Tony stands up, a bright blue light visible in his chest. The musical accompaniment to this scene is made up of augmented tones, ones that do not promote positive feelings, but ones of tension, mystery, even villainy. Things are taking some interesting turns here.
Time passes and we move quickly to another scene. Now things are looking even more homey in the cave. The light is low, but not murky: candles offer some soft illumination. The two men sit and play backgammon, substituting mechanical parts for checkers. Tony has a change of clothes, looks less and less like the man who arrived here. The atmosphere is pleasant, amicable. Tony prepares tea as they play, and their tone is that of two satisfied men. It’s a far cry from the grime and the dirt that existed upon Tony’s awakening. There’s hope here. There’s a glimpse of civilisation. If not for the glowing object in Tony’s chest, little would appear amiss.
As an aside, I might posit that Favreau took some influence from the famous opening of The Seventh Seal for this scene, at least in framing. But does that make Yinsen Death, and Tony the Crusading Knight?
As yet another aside, what remains of this scene is cut from some much longer extended material, that features Tony and Yinsen playfully mocking each other over their alma maters, some comedy material for Abu Bakaar of all people and a much more pointed version of what constitutes the last two minutes of this entry. Iron Man actually has around ten minutes of deleted material, that I might make a separate entry of analysing at some point.
Back on track, the two share a personal conversation:
You still haven’t told me where you’re from.
I’m from a small town called Gulmira. It’s actually a nice place.
Got a family?
Yes, and I will see them when I leave here.
You can tell straight away, from the way that Yinsen formulates his words – and the fact that he does not meet Tony’s eyes as he says them – that he isn’t telling everything in his answer. “I will see them when I leave here” is probably as obvious a hint the writing staff could drop about Yinsen’s fate without simply spelling it out. He doesn’t say “When I escape” or “When I get out of here”. He’s also a bit quiet when he mentions his home town. “Actually a nice place” indicates it has its a share of problems – maybe like the shrapnel injuries he previously mentioned seeing there. He’s quick to flip the focus of the discussion:
And you, Stark?
Tony is now the one to avoid Yinsen’s eyes. He shifts, uncomfortable with the question and the truth it demands. Tony has no romantic relationships beyond meaningless flings, his parents are both dead. He has friends, but no one very close. In this place, that reality must be a painful one to confront. Yinsen, as far as Stark knows, has a wife and children waiting for him. Who’s waiting for Tony? Again, we might think of Pepper, whose voice Tony imagined during a desperate moment. His eventual answer is hesitant and awkward.
Yinsen is unequivocal in his reply to that, respectful in tone but lecturing in message.
No? So you’re a man who has everything…and nothing.
Tony can only smile awkwardly at that. It’s the most cutting thing anybody has said to him in the course of the film. The jabs and annoyance of Rhodes, Everhart and Potts are nothing compared to this declaration, where Yinsen appears pitying. Tony, despite his recovery, has no comeback, and that is not something we are used to.
Bakaar approaches the cell, full of purpose, his face set with determination. It is a suddenly tense moment. He pulls back the shutter in the door and glances at Tony and Yinsen working with tools amid the rubble of technology they have been given. Seemingly satisfied, Bakaar closes the shutter and walks off. The ruse is working, for the time being.
Another brief montage follows, as the camera pans again across the equipment Stark has been given, various tools and motors, along with what look like very deliberately formed pieces of ironwork, that bear a passing resemblance to the blueprints we saw earlier. Tony is looking distinctive himself, with the wielding tools and goggles marking him out. The plan is coming together.
But as the next few shots make clear, things are also coming apart. Bakaar and his flunkies debate whether Stark and Yinsen really are putting together a Jericho Missile based on the picture they have of one. Soldiers huddle around a fire for warmth as they stand guard. And then the same bald individual we saw before, wreathed in shadow like Colonel Kurtz, again fiddling with the large ring on his finger, observes Stark and Yinsen working on what looks like some kind of elaborate, automated leg brace. Enough is, seemingly, enough. So closely watched, Tony and Yinsen could not have made their contraption without being noticed, I suppose.
A close up of this man’s eyes show his suspicions without the need to voice them. We’re coming to a head, clearly.
Again Bakaar appears behind the shutter barking orders. Tony and Yinsen, wary of this, grudgingly put down their tools and place their hands behind their heads.
This time though, when Bakaar enters, he immediately stands to the side, his men forming what looks like some sort of honour guard for the person coming down the middle. Aside from marking Bakaar as this persons subordinate, it also increases the tension of his approach. Look at the amount of men at his beck and call. Look at the subservience to him. Echoing percussion and tense violins accompany his eventual appearance. This is Raza.
He enters the cave. He looks to his two captives, their work, a stare of focused disdain on his face. He is quiet for a moment as the drums reverberate like heartbeats. Again, he fiddles with that large ring. The edge to the scene is intense. Then it is suddenly broken, to an extent:
His tone is so casual it’s actually a surprise. He himself seems bemused that Tony has his hands up in his presence, as if it is ridiculous that his captives feel he might be threatened by the lack of such procedure.
More importantly, he’s speaking English, and as the scene unfolds, we realise he speaks it very well. Bakaar spoke Arabic in the earlier scene like this, perhaps in a bid to intimidate Stark. He was a fool who thought that he had pulled one over on Tony and Yinsen’s heads, but his ignorance of English belied that. Tony and Yinsen looked superior next to him because of this.
Not Raza. He won’t be fooled in the same manner. He’s Bakaar’s leader. He’s in control. And him speaking English is strangely unnerving in the circumstances.
Raza pulls Tony’s shirt down slightly to observe his palladium contraption. He is curious without being too inquisitive. He can probably guess just what this thing is, while still being ignorant as to its construction. But then he begins to speak of other things, as if gazing on the blue light is just an idle curiosity.
The bow and arrow, once was the pinnacle of weapons technology.
Interesting opening. Everything seems to come back to weaponry for these guys. Raza, having had enough of Tony for a moment, starts to wonder around the caves machinery and strewn materials.
It allowed the great Genghis Khan to rule from the Pacific to the Ukraine. An empire twice the size of Alexander the Great and four times the size of the Roman Empire.
Namedropping Genghis Kahn seems to be an obvious allusion for the kind of person Raza wants to emulate. Someone with vast power, who gained it with the best tools at hand, and who was the superior of western parallels. Even if his description of Kahn’s success is very simplistic. It was more than bows and arrows that allowed the Mongolians to rule such an area. And for all of its greatness, it disintegrated relatively quickly in the grand scheme of things.
But today, whoever holds the latest Stark weapons rules these lands.
As he says these words, his eyes gaze upon the plains for the metal behemoth Stark and Yinsen are constructing, but without being placed together they are meaningless. Still, it is a very scary moment, as Stark looks to Yinsen, who signals with his hands for Stark to stay calm. That must be hard to do, especially after the next line:
And soon, it will be my turn.
As he says these words, the camera focuses up on just his head. He turns, sneering at Stark. We see, for the first time, the hook nose, the crazy look in the eye. Raza looks every inch the villain. And he wants the power that Stark can provide, so he can do whatever he can to live up to the legacy of Genghis Kahn.
He strides to stand before Tony once more, looking him dead in the eye, seeking for any hint of treachery or deception. What is this man capable of?
Suddenly, he’s speaking another language (apparently he’s speaking Urdu, the official language of Pakistan) and addressing Yinsen even as he keeps his gaze on Stark. The audience, through subtitles, knows what he is saying, but Tony does not, and his rising panic will help keep the tension of the scene on an upward slope.
(In Urdu) Why have you failed me?
Yinsen does his best to appear honest in his answer.
(In Urdu) We’re working. Diligently.
Raza moves away from Tony and starts walking, with a calm menace, towards Yinsen.
(In Urdu) I let you live. This is how you repay me?
Tony hasn’t a clue what is being said and looks increasingly wary. Yinsen is desperate and scared.
(In Urdu) It’s’ very complex. He’s trying very hard.
Even now, the focus of their conversation is still on Tony. Raza appears to have expected Yinsen to keep Tony on track, which he has failed to do. Yinsen’s worry here is infectious.
(In Urdu) On his knees.
Things take a turn for the worse as Yinsen is roughly grabbed from behind and thrust onto his knees. Tony can only watch, awkwardly powerless to even intercede verbally. Raza, who has complete control over the situation, pokes at the nearby fire while Yinsen tries frantically to placate him.
(In Urdu) You think I’m a fool? I’ll get the truth.
(In Urdu) We’re both working.
And then everything gets even worse, as Raza takes pleasure in turning around lowly and revealing a red hot piece of coal in a tongs that he is holding. The bare beginnings of a wretched smile is on his face.
(In Urdu) Open your mouth.
Things move rapidly from there, as Yinsen head is forced down on an anvil and Raza begins a deliberately slow advance towards him. Tony can’t bear it anymore and tries to get involved.
What does he want?
(In Urdu) You think I’m a fool?
What’s going on?
(In Urdu) Tell me the truth.
The shriek of the violins ramp up, as we near a decision in this pivotal moment – the beginning of the next part of the soundtrack actually (OST: “Mark I“). Yinsen is struggling to remain calm, but he’s trying to reason with a madman.
(In Urdu) He’s building your Jericho.
(In Urdu) Tell me the truth!
(In Urdu) He’s building your Jericho!
Tony, having been motionless, takes a few steps forward.
What do you want? A delivery date?
He’s cut off, as Bakaar and the host of armed men around him spring a few steps forward, guns raised, shouting for Tony to stop what he’s doing. This is a very important moment, for no other reason than it shows that these men, for all of the control they have over the situation, are still somewhat afraid of Stark, for whatever reason.
Stark stops, and events are poised on what happens next. Everyone, including Raza now, is staring at Stark.
Stark, a look of determination set on his face, takes charge of the situation. He sees the power that he has over these people, how they need him. And if they need him, then Stark has leverage.
I need him. Good assistant.
Tony is careful to keep his voice low and subservient. Raza glares back. He drops the burning coal right next to Yinsen worried face, reinforcing the control he has. He could end them both on a whim, and that reality is crystal clear.
You have ’til tomorrow, to assemble my missile.
Eagle eyed viewers will note that there is something a little off with the shot that is used for this line. Raza is supposed to be standing next to Yinsen, with no one behind him. Instead the doors to the cell are clearly behind him, along with a goon. In the next shot, everything is back to the way it should be. That’s because this specific shot is one of the lone bits from the aforementioned deleted material to make it into the theatrical cut. It is one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” continuity errors.
With that declaration, and one last disdainful sneer, he throws the tongs away carelessly and stalks off.
It was a big week for Tony Stark. Now it is a big day.
For The Film
This section of the film is the continuation of the actual origin story, and the immediate set-up to the first full on action sequence of consequence. This is the moment when we are first presented with the plans for the titular “Iron Man” after all, and everything that follows from that. Tony is shown as clambering out of the metaphorical pit he was landed in, through both his appearance and his actions, putting together a plan with the resources that he has to hand. Yinsen is elaborated upon subtly, and we are introduced properly to one of the last of the films minor villains – who, as far as we know so far, is the films main antagonist at this point. His threat level has been firmly established by the end of this sequence, as has the tension for the actual escape attempt.
Tony is coming back up in the world. He hit rock bottom but he dragging himself towards a higher purpose, finding friendship and hope in the midst of all the despair. Having encountered a scenario that seemed beyond any rectification, he’s realised that he has everything that he needs to try and escape from his predicament, not least his magnificent brain. But he also has sheer courage, and that’s coming to the fore more and more as we go on. There are also some deeper realisations at the heart of everything, about the emptiness of his life back home, compared to a man like Yinsen. And lastly, a growing distaste for the business of Stark Industries, something that will become important very soon.
We learn a little bit more about Yinsen here, but we have to read between a few lines. He has a family somewhere, but has little expectation of getting back to them, even if the coming escape attempt is successful. He pities Stark for his solitude, but accepts that he has now become the lesser man in their duo, following Tony’s lead in his plans, his really crucial involvement coming when he simply has to just keep his mouth shut in the face of Raza’s insanity. He has steadfastness and ingenuity, but he realises that Tony is going to be the real catalyst for everything.
Little to do in this section of the film, beyond showing his deference to Raza in matters of major importance. He’s a subordinate, whose uses are limited to the man who is actually running the show.
The leader of the Ten Rings, Raza is a violent psychopath with delusions of grandeur. He believes that he can be a modern day Genghis Khan, and all that he will need is the weapons that Stark, his slave, will provide. He retains an angry disposition and some nervous traits, unpredictable in his actions to an extreme degree. He is very threatening, and we are left in no doubt as to the power of his convictions.
Next week, the escape is on.