The big Mandarin twist in Iron Man 3 certainly upset a number of fans who were excited to see Tony Stark’s nemesis in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, rather than a drunken British actor pretending to be Tony Stark’s nemesis. Speaking to IGN, director Shane Black has defended the creative decision, stating that he has no regrets and would do it again, although he does feel bad for any fans who felt fooled by their interpretation.
“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” states the director. “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.”
“We had this think tank – A.I.M. – from the comics and ‘OK, what if this was a cobbled together sort of boogeyman?’,” he continues. “That they’d researched – they actually had data spit out about the various things that people would find frightening and they would concoct from this. This sort of straw man terrorist. This paper tiger. And then push him on the internet. I thought that felt modern, it felt interesting, it felt textured. I thought to myself, ‘Hey Whiplash in Iron Man 2 – he doesn’t look like Whiplash in the comics, people like it when you trade up and kind of shake it up a little.’ And the truth is people did – 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.”
Asked whether he’d do a more faithful interpretation of the character if given the opportunity to change the movie, Black responded that: “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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