The average, everyday movie-viewer may have left Iron Man 3 thinking, "thank goodness Tony took out Guy Pearce's vile corporate killer, Aldrich Killian." Most comic book zealots, on the other hand, bee-lined from the theater and onto the Internet, fuming over The Mandarin twist, which turned classic Iron Man villain into an out-of-work actor hired to distract from Killian's real plan of corporate subterfuge and world domination.
And here we thought director Shane Black simply constructed a clever misdirection that also satirized our mass-media's penchant for sensationalism, disturbing trends of cultural stereotyping, and devious corporate heads that use hawkish tactics to distract from their money-grubbing — or in Killian's case, Tony Stark-coercing — schemes. All along, he'd secretly set out to ruin fanboys' days.
Admittedly, Marvel has been a little dicey with their gender and racial characterizations at times. Black's Iron Man sequel certainly avoided the media blitz of casting a stereotypical Asian caricature as a supervillain by subverting the genre. Race politics and comic book conspiracy theory aside, though, Black actually choose the controversial ending for a specific reason. "I thought [the twist] felt modern, it felt interesting, it felt textured. I thought, 'Hey Whiplash in Iron Man 2 doesn't look like Whiplash in the comics, people like it when you trade up and kind of shake it up a little." Generally speaking, we don't mind a curveball or two in our movies, but we hope Shane Black never makes a movie featuring Doctor Doom. Actually, considering all the damage Hollywood did to Doom, we take that back. Plus, Black spins a helluva yarn.