Shane Black defends the Mandarin twist in Iron Man 3: ‘I still like the choice we made’

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Warning: Spoilers for Iron Man 3 follow.

Iron Man 3, while one of the best entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, keeps receiving a whoopin’ from fans over the world. The word that kicks them off? ‘Mandarin.’ The beloved villain from the comics was set up as the big bad in the movie, only to turn out as nothing more than harmless Brit actor Trevor Slattery (played to perfection by Ben Kingsley), much to the delight of many and to the ire of some. The film’s director, Shane Black – currently on a press tour for The Nice Guys – spoke to IGN about the twist, and how he has no regrets about his decision.

‘We may have done our job a bit too well in a way because we succeeded in actually having a surprise in the middle of a big summer movie where you normally know virtually everything about it before you go in… And when I say we did our job too well it meant some of the fans felt fooled. They felt I think that they’d been led down one path and then sold a bill of goods. It’s hard. Because I want to please the fans… but in this case I thought and we all thought that it was just a very interesting and very layered decision to take the Mandarin [in]… I thought that felt modern, it felt interesting, it felt textured… I mean we made a lot of money with the movie, but there is a hardcore niche of fandom that was genuinely disappointed; they wanted to see their version. And for that I feel bad. I still like the choice we made.’

When asked if he would change things to be more in line with the source, if he could make the movie again, Black said, ‘Of course not… The minute you start to govern your creative impulses based on anticipation of someone else’s response or their expectations then you’re going to fail. You’re going to fail them too. Because you’re not going to surprise anybody – you’re going to be busy second-guessing what other people want and indulging that people-pleasing side of yourself.’

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Black also recently opined that Marvel Studios themselves actually tried to manage fan furore by releasing the short film, All Hail the King, in which it’s revealed that the true Mandarin is real and out there. Regardless, what Black has to say here – especially the second part about people-pleasing – is extremely important, especially so in the current climate of blockbuster filmmaking that takes as few risks as possible.

The Nice Guys is out now. Iron Man 3 is still awesome.

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