‘Iron Man 3′ & ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’: Are Villains with a Twist a Good Idea?

Published 2 years ago by , Updated May 21st, 2013 at 7:19 pm,

iron man 3 star trek darkness villains Iron Man 3 & Star Trek Into Darkness: Are Villains with a Twist a Good Idea?



“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist,” as Roger “Verbal” Kint (Kevin Spacey) so famously – and eloquently – put it in The Usual Suspects. Villains with secret identities and hidden agendas were around long before the world was introduced to Keyser Söze in Bryan Singer’s 1995 film, yet there’s something about a two-faced character that resonates stronger than ever with the masses in the present-day (side-stepping the discussion about parallels to the post-9/11 political climate).

Rebooted superhero comic book adaptations and genre blockbusters have begun to use this trick more and more. This can partly be chalked up to screenwriters and directors who are trying to stay one step ahead of the well-informed fanbase – who know the ins and out of any established baddie – but it’s also an attempt by these filmmakers to adjust to current marketing trends, where so many trailers and TV spots give away surprises and big moments (plot “twists,” money shots) ahead of time.

Question is, are “villains with a twist” more trouble than they’re worth? And, if not, then what’s the “right” way to go about creating one? Well, those are interesting questions, especially now that Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness – which both use this archetype – are playing in theaters and giving rise to debates about how effective (or not) their final villain reveals are.

Let’s compare and contrast the antagonists in recent comic book/sci-fi movies with the series that popularized this current trend: filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.









iron man 3 killian batman begins ducard Iron Man 3 & Star Trek Into Darkness: Are Villains with a Twist a Good Idea?

There are a handful of similarities and parallels between the Nolan Batman movie villains and The Mandarin in Iron Man 3, such as:

  • The “real Mandarin” is Adrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who hires on another man (Ben Kingsley) to pretend to be the head of the Ten Rings organization in Iron Man 3, similar to how Henry Ducard/Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson) uses a decoy (Ken Watanabe) to feign being the League of Shadows leader in Batman Begins.
  • Killian hides behind a respectable face as the founder of A.I.M., while he uses the dangerous Extremis technology and hired thugs in secret. Similarly, Talia al Ghul (Marion Cotillard) passes herself off as noble business woman Miranda Tate – letting the terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy) do her bidding - which allows her to gain access to Wayne Enterprise’s clean energy device-turned-nuclear bomb in The Dark Knight Rises.
  • Kingley as The (fake) Mandarin preys on the general population’s hysteria and stereotypes about modern terrorists, similar to how Bruce Wayne is fooled by the (fake) Japanese Ra’s al Ghul and fails to see through Talia’s Miranda Tate facade – since it appeals to Bruce’s (subconscious?) desire to find another woman like the late Rachel Dawes.

And so forth. However, there are important differences that may help to explain why there’ve been more hostile responses to the Mandarin twist in Iron Man 3 than either of the twists in Nolan’s comic book adaptations (though, obviously, not everyone was a fan of those revelations, either).

iron man 3 mandarin kingsley Iron Man 3 & Star Trek Into Darkness: Are Villains with a Twist a Good Idea?

Killian appears to have no real connection to the Ten Rings organization in Iron Man 3 (though the prequel comic book suggests otherwise), whereas those Batman villains all have a well-established link to the League of Shadows in the actual films. Hence, Nolan’s movies form a complete circle, story-wise, while Iron Man 3 doesn’t tie so well together with the first two Iron Man flicks.

Similarly, the beef between Killian and Tony is petty and more strictly philosophical – I’ve compared it before to Batman/Riddler in Batman Forever – while the Bruce and Ra’s conflict is very personal and philosophical (the same is true for Bruce and Bane/Talia). By the time we get to the big boss fight in Iron Man 3, the emotional stakes are lacking in comparison to the climaxes in Nolan’s films.

Banes Mask in The Dark Knight Rises Iron Man 3 & Star Trek Into Darkness: Are Villains with a Twist a Good Idea?

Iron Man 3 starts by making the traditional version of The Mandarin – flamboyant robes, rings and all – work in a modern comic book movie context, but the decision to reveal that Kingsley’s character is a joke (and Killian is the real deal) feels like a cop-out and disrespectful of the fact that the old-school Mandarin was, originally, intended to be taken quite seriously.

Nolan’s Batman films take liberties with their interpretations of characters like Ra’s al Ghul and Bane, but are fully committed to making them work onscreen in a way that honors their pulpy comic book origins (while fitting them into Nolan’s vision of the Batman universe). Iron Man 3 co-writer/director Shane Black, by comparison, dismissed The Mandarin as an outdated (and non-adaptable) racist villain – only to replace him with another stereotype, i.e. the evil U.S. businessman. 


NEXT PAGE: How Does Star Trek Into Darkness Compare?

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  1. The ‘Trek’ twist rocked. The ‘Ironman’ twist ruined the whole movie…

    • +1

    • i wouldn’t go far as to say Star Trek’s one ‘rocked’ but of course you’re spot on with IM3. I still can’t understand why they went that direction.

      • I agree that the Trek twist did not “rock”, especially since a lot of people assumed the villain was Khan from the beginning of filming, and some of the actors actually lied to cover it up, rather than just responding to questions by saying, “I don’t want to discuss that.” Plus, how unoriginal is it to have Khan as the villain in the sequel to the reboot, when he was the villain in the sequel to the original film? I’d go even further and say that Montalban played the definitive Khan.

        • @Jeff

          100% agree. Montalban’s Khan was without doubt one of the most memorable screen villains of the 80s (to go alongside Darth Vader and Terence Stamp’s Zod) As good as Cumberbatch was, he just wouldn’t stand up in comparison and in all fairness he didn’t get the screen time to either.

          It just would’ve served the movie better had he remained an original character and prevented the huge backlash from fans which is one of the main reasons fr STID underperfoming box office.

    • Pretty much agree, The Mandarin twist kinda added up to an entertaining but utterly flawed movie. But I think the Iron Man series overall was pretty dope, though I do find myself constantly making excuses for their mistakes.

    • i couldnt disagree with you more (about the iron man comment.)

      it just seems everybody either loved it or hated it. i know the comcs and mandarin and i loved it.

    • Trek twist FELL LIKE a rock. You misspoke there.

    • So the twist of a c list villain in marvel ruined a whole movie for you ha!

    • @John Agreed

  2. The villains in these films have such a rich history
    and extensive character development that the
    use of secret identity when they have such
    a strong identity does seem forced and
    worse can appear as an easy gimmick.

  3. agree when i saw that the madrin was a pansy i was furious…but the khan twist had be in shock

    • the real mandarin was killian. people seem to think because it wasnt kingsley there wasnt a mandarin. killian says it himself in the finale.

      • Yeah, he says it, but the entire character arc is simply pointless…meaningless.

  4. It all depends on the way the twist is handled, and the context within to how it relates to the movie.

    The Star Trek thing wasn’t exactly a twist. You just learn more and more about a character as the movie goes on.

    With Iron Man, that’s a misleading twist. Which in a lot of ways can be a lot of fun, keeping you on your toes and what not. The delivery of the twist was approached comically, which could be confusing to fans of all the previous films as they weren’t all out comedies.

    I think that may be the main reason for the back-lash about Mandarin, is that fans of the series weren’t expecting a “let’s make this all a big fun joke” approach. I’m not a fan of IM 3 because in it’s attempt to stand on it’s own it effectively destroys any continuity of the films proceeding it, making Tony’s actions, lack of actions, and over-all motivations very confusing. He was supposed to have learned in Avengers (as it was one of the major themes of the movie) that even he doesn’t have all the answers, that even he needs help at times, and how sometimes you have to sacrifice things in order to achieve the greater good. The events in the Avengers was supposed to have led Tony to this. One movie later, and “no, actually that’s not how the events in New York shape Tony. The events in New York ’cause Tony to no longer be a genius, to stumble and fumble about with PTSD while he deals with the anxiety of not being able to handle things on his own.” That’s so lame.

    That change of pacing, basically from AC/DC to Eiffel 65, is the probably the best reason for the negative feedback regarding IM 3

  5. I know I’m going to get grilled for this, but here it goes:

    I personally enjoyed the twist involving The Mandarin, but I have my reasons, and I completely understand all the hate, and I empathize. The reason I liked it was because I was not emotionally invested for even a second in “Iron Man 3.” I felt that this film was the most franchise-feeding of the bunch, and that Downey, even though is still solid, is gives a more caricatured performance than giving depth to an actual character. I also never felt that any of the main players (especially Pepper) were in any real sense of danger. I knew they wouldn’t kill them off, it’s not the world they have set up. There are not stakes like that.

    If I would have cared for the story in the slightest, I would also be upset with The Mandarin twist. It serves no narrative purpose, and we already knew that Killian was a baddy. But, solely for the fact that I see the twist as Shane Black f***ing with people in an awesome, Shane Black-like manner, I loved it. Black is a great writer/director, but he was not the right choice for this film, there were tonal inconsistencies, his humor had to be restricted to a PG-13 parameter and the strain shows, and the film takes a buddy cop vibe (clearly in his wheelhouse) towards the end, but it doesn’t fit.

  6. I liked both twists to the movies. When I found out about then Mandarin’s true identity, I started laughing because the scene was funny and I could just imagine the look on fanboys faces. I thought it was clever.

  7. Oh boy…….

    Let the Iron Man 3 bashing begin……….

    • “Oh boy, let’s bash a movie that’s so fcking terrible”

    • You seem too biased for Iron Man 3. Named yourself Stark and put a picture up also….how can you be such a big fanboy of one of the shittiest films ever put on the silver screen? Explain please

      • Really? it’s not like he named himself: “I mother F&#$in love Iron Man 3, F-yeah!!!!” You mean you can’t just be a fan of the character? There are like three other appearances of that character, and even the deepest haters of IM3 cite RDJ/Stark as the highlight of the movie. These two occurances don’t have to be related if you’ve ever considered that.

  8. I loved the Iron Man ‘twist’! Ben Kinsley was my favourite part of the movie…I got the joke.

  9. Great contribution.

  10. I prefer the term “guy who appreciates good movies,” myself.

  11. Neither twist was spectacular, twist are great when handled well. The talia DKR twist was also poorly handled. Its all about when you reveal it and if it enhances the film. The manderin twist was revealed at the perfect time, but killian never lived up to what the real mandrin could have been. As for the star trek twist, it didnt enhance the film for me because khan isnt a name a none star trek fan would recognize. I ended up going oh he had a diffrent name, i thought he was equally as cool as john harrison former star fleet officer or w/e. The timing was great for both the execution was the problem. IMO

  12. Some twist’s are great and others not so much. Iron man 3′s twist IMO, didn’t help the movie. Again in my opinion, it actually made the movie a bit less enjoyable.

  13. I give a nod of approval to Marvel when it came to the Mandarin, and though I was disappointed with how he ended up being portrayed, it was still something that caught you unawares. Marvel fed EVERYONE this idea that the Mandarin was this epic terrorist who had been plotting against America and Iron Man since the first movie, and everybody bought it hook line and sinker. When that twist came around, it was the most unexpected hing to ever happen. I was going “Wait-What???” and was totally blown away by that surprise. I feel that with our age of technology in everyone’s hands we are able to capture every little detail of a movie before it comes out, ruining the whole experience of “What’s going to happen next?”; and while I read everything about these movies, I still enjoyed being surprised like that.

    As for Star Trek: Into Darkness, the whole “twist” with Khan was not really a surprise, even though you didn’t see it coming it was not a jaw-dropping experience quite like the Mandarin’s twist. However, this doesn’t take away from the character’s charisma as a villain. John Harrison/Khan is brilliant and lets you know that he’s ahead of you. This time around he’s less vengeful and more brutal; going the distance to protect his family, while being more than willing to crush everything and everyone who gets in his way.

    All in all, I LOVED those movies, and find very little at fault with them. (Though, as a reader of the comics, was miffed at how Mandarin was made as a total joke; even so it was still cleaver)

  14. Also the diffrence between batman begins twist and ironman 3 was ken wantabe was never utilized in trailers or anything as this terrifing villian he just sat there and watch as Henry Ducard trained bruce. When the twist was revealed you were like here we go master vs the trainee!

    • Exactly! In Batman begins, there wasn’t any marketing for Ken Watanabe, just Liam Neeson. So when the twist happened, it made Liam Neeson’s character even better when you discovered HE was Ra’s Al Ghul. Iron Man 3, completely opposite. They marketed Ben Kingsley (an Oscar winning beloved actor) and nothing for Guy Pearce. Although that made the twist more surprising, it just made some of us feel let down because Ben Kingsley was marketed to be such a cool villain.

      Also, Henry Ducard being Ra’s al Ghul worked because he still resembled Ra’s al Ghul from the comics. Aldrich Killian, however, didn’t resemble the Mandarin character at all (with the exception of the dragon tattoos).

      • Also, Killian joined the long line of generic villains that wanted to screw up the world only because the hero dissed him in the past… that was so lame

  15. This is all just my opinion, so take it for what it’s worth.

    The problem with the IM3 “twist” was a few things. First, it felt like a slap in the face to the Ironman fans who were looking forward to seeing one of the more popular villains on screen finally. It was set up in the first since the Ten Rings organization was first alluded to, which leads to my second problem. In the original Ironman, Tony was taken captive by what was implied as a legitimate terrorist organization out to cause havoc, steal weapons, and attack innocent victims. When IM3 tries to bring it back to that, it negates it all by pointing out it was a front for Killian who used it to cover up his Extremis experiments “failing” and providing a false front for this organization, the Mandarin. So these leaves in question, was the Ten Rings organization a false organization from the beginning or juxtaposed by Killian for his use. It doesn’t really provide the continuity that the Nolan Batman trilogy has with their respective secret organization.

    As for Into Darkness, my problem isn’t the use of Khan. It’s that once he’s revealed, it follows almost exactly what TWOK did storywise. Had they chosen to do a completely different story using the character I don’t think there would be an issue from fans.

  16. I really enjoy when Screenrant makes articles and analysis such as these. They are interesting to read and this one in particular really puts perspective and analyzes the inherent differences between the different twists and their effectiveness as seen through the comments from fans and audiences.

    Sandy, I agree with everything that is said on this post. While not all of the twists are well received or even surprising in some cases, there is a point in difference of what makes the twist work in a fundamental way for the story at hand. The Mandarin twist is actually well-kept secret and should be given credit for such especially given that the Marvel Studios usually saturate the market with much advertisement that could potentially spoil such moments on upon seeing them.

    The Mandarin twist in of itself did not bring down the film but rather create ripple effects that did not exactly make the film be elevated by any means. All the effort to bring and develop the fake Mandarin on screen and make the character work in the context of the film itself and the mythology established in the first two films just felt wasted when the character really did not amount to anything more than a twist for the sake of being a twist. The first half of the film until the revelation worked okay and actually stretched the antagonistic relationship with Tony Stark but when it ultimately went nowhere, it just made the first half of the film build up without any real payoff. We all knew Killian was no good and aiming (no pun) for some sort of revenge, so that element was not a shock by any means and his motivations were far less compelling and mostly petty in comparison to what seemed like a real threat the fake Mandarin was made out to be.

    The Ra’s Al Ghul (and to a lesser extent Talia) twist fit in with the established character who leads “The League of Shadows”. It also fitted with the expectation of the audience members who know from the source material of Ra’s semi-immortality. It played with that notion and for a moment audiences and the character Bruce Wayne were in shock and amazed at the possibility of seeing Ra’s alive. The shock and awe continued with another twist as Ra’s is revealed to be Liam Neeson, who most audience members associate with a noble and strong moral teacher from other roles such as Qui-Gon Jinn. The character even made hints at “supernatural methods” and “immortality” (which admittedly could have more weight if the character were to return in one of the sequels). Theatricality and deception.

    The reveal served its purpose as Bruce Wayne must learn a hard lesson and feel guilty for what is about to come to Gotham. The personal relationship between mentor and student have taken a tragic course. Plus, the character revealed to be the true Ra’s was developed and his motivations clear.

    The Mandarin twist did nothing to advance the plot, make the conflict personal, or help develop the true villain Killian. The fact that they made the Mandarin work on screen get some fans mad when they felt cheated of actually seeing the story played out. But objectively the Mandarin twist is smart for the villain to do on Killian’s part, but I find the twist to cause a negative effect on the film in which all the time and effort to develop a personal conflict and interesting villain could have been used for the actual villain and not the “decoy”. It just for laugh and shock, nothing more and nothing less. The film has other issues beside the twist, however the twist is a catalyst for all the other issues. Pacing, direction, tone, any development, were all affected because the studio decided to pull a fast one. Its not the twist itself but rather the fact that it was fundamentally not important for the immediate story.

    The Talia twist -while arguably fits in character and did advance the plot in some ways while bringing in some personal tension to the conflict- also has its own issues. The twist was not kept-well secret which, while it doesn’t affect the overall movie going public outside of comic book readers and followers of movie news, points to filmmakers trying to hard to recreate something done before and better fashion. While the Mandarin twist did not add anything and stunted the growth of the film, the Talia twist could be seen as forced and in hindsight unnecessary.

    I think the twist is okay but should not be used just for the sake of shocking, but rather add something else to the story in order to better elevate the conflict within the story. I agree with every word in the article and definitely see this being some new gimmick in which I hope either dies down or better written twists be made.

    • Thanks! I do agree with what you (and others have) said about the Talia twist in TDKR, it’s not without its problems either.

    • Great post, sir. Like most instances, you say what I wanted to say which leaves a lot of typing of for me unnecessary.

  17. Are villains with a twist a good idea? They could be. However, from my perspective, NO. They aren’t. I base this solely on the fact that I haven’t seen a good villain twist in recent years.
    Bane was a badass villain. He could have been on the same level as the Joker. If you don’t agree, check out the Nightfall Saga. He was the same level of badass as the Joker for completely different reasons. The Joker was Batman’s archenemy in that he was Batman’s opposite, while Bane was Batman’s arch-nemesis for how similar he was to Batman. The problem with the Talia twist in The Dark Knight Rises was that they set up Bane to be a huge thread only to cut him short for a lame twist involving a one-note villain with an unoriginal, uninteresting “you-killed-my-father-prepare-to-die!” motive. That twist undermined one of Bane’s key characteristics: That he was a self-made villain, much like Batman is a self-made hero; Bane is supposed to be his own man! After Bane’s death, I did not care for the following chase scene.
    The thing with villain twists is that they hardly lead to a better payoff. It can be done. The twist just needs to think things through and lead to better and more interesting things. If you’re gonna cop out on the villain that the narrative builds up as the main villain, than you gotta make sure the actual villain is way more awesome and interesting. The reason for the backlash against the IM3 twist is because people have felt like the rug was pulled from under them in favor of being “politically correct.” Having a Saudi Arabian terrorist of the Mandarin being the “fake stereotype” in favor of making him an American corrupt, white and blond corporate executive was an unoriginal way to swap one stereotype for another.
    Twists could be done well as long as it doesn’t undercut the buildup villain’s better characteristics (ex: Banes individuality and similarity to Batman, or the Mandarin’s foreign mysticism and unique methods), and if the reveal villain isn’t a letdown (ex: A boring villain who wants revenge because so-and-so did this, or an overdone white corrupt corporate executive). They just need better payoffs!

  18. Love twists but the mandarin twist ruined the entire movie for me

  19. The villain twists to me are good, if done right. The twist in Batman Begins was predictable. The Dark Knight Rises was eh, even if the film was great. Iron Man 3′s made sense to me. Star Trek Into Darkness was also predictable, but was still awesome.

  20. To be honest the Star Trek reveal is not really a twist. It’s more of a surprise for fans of the older Trek movies, but for newer fans there really is no twist at all. I guess the ‘shock’ factor comes from the fact that they were able to keep the identity a secret especially in this age of internet spoilers.

    The Iron Man 3 twist was terrible and stupid, especially when dealing with the characters primary adversary. Whether you’re into the comics or not, the movie trilogy was crying out for a formidable villain and the potential that the Mandarin’s presence had was completely wasted in an insulting way.

    TDKR’s ‘twist’ made sense but it just wasn’t developed enough, came in far too late in the movie and completely undercut the presence of the main villain.

    There are nothing wrong with movie twists at all, as long as they are plausible, keeping in logic with the story giving it a good resolution, making you think after the movie.

    The secret is all in the writing and direction so that the viewer doesn’t see it coming but can make sense of it when it does happen. The article already mentioned Usual Suspects and obviously you have Empire Strikes Back and the original Planet of the Apes. There are other great examples such as No Way Out, and Presumed Innocent.

    It’s when the twist is created just purely for shock value (especially when it’s the ending)that can ruin a movie. Unbreakable is a great example of an excellent film completely spoiled by a truly ridiculous twist that preceded one of the strongest scenes in the movie. Fallen too was a fine movie ruined by a stupid ‘twist’.

    I always think introduce the main villain early on and their motivation. That enables you to build a stronger story and a more satisfying movie rather than having twists three quarters of the way through or right at the end.

  21. Take it as is people. If it’s good fine if not , stop wining and go with it. I have my complaints about movies , but I keep it to my self anymore due to the fact that people tend to bash others on here for putting in there two cents on here.


    - B

    • Hooray for passive aggressiveness!!

  22. Actually it is you, Idli Beer, an anonymous troll being a troll again.
    And your insult term of choice is unconscious psychological projection.

    • @ Pipes_46 and Robert

      Thanks for having my back, guys.

      Vic’s already dropped the banhammer on that guy’s head (he has a bad history with the site in general).

  23. I haven’t seen STID and probably won’t until it’s on TV but honestly, we all knew he was Khan months ago so I’m not sure why people were so shocked.

    As for IM3, it was my fave of the trilogy and satisfied me in a way that The Avengers didn’t. As for the twist, I enjoyed it. It resonated well with me, gave off a nice feeling of “well, at least they didn’t have him as the actual Mandarin, that would’ve been cliche” and helped with Aldrich Killian’s transformation from smarmy businessman to evil guy bent on revenge.

    In the beginning, he was a sickly geek that got no respect and with Extremis, he became a peak physical specimen that could take on Iron Man without needing an iron suit of his own (which I guarantee people would’ve complained about if Kingsley got into a suit to be able to hold his own against Stark).

    It was a great twist and I would’ve been disappointed if they’d copied the book page for page. It’s a shame because moviegoers complain that STID turned into a shot for shot remake of TWOK but also complain that IM3 wasn’t a frame for frame remake of the Extremis storyline. I just blame the IM3 hatred on hipsters and bandwagoneers.

    • Right, because it is in no way “hipster” to declare Avengers as the weakest of the Marvel movies. Because only a “bandwagoner” can tell that IM 3 ignores everything that was done before it and presents a complete different Tony Stark that conflicts with the character that had been established, simply for the sake of “doing something new.” Hipsters and bandwagoners indeed.

    • I blame the IM3 hatred on it being a badly made, badly presented joke of a movie.

  24. Even if the Khan twist was one of the worst kept secrets in recent memory, it was still effective. I really enjoyed Cumberbatch’s performance. I’m not sure if I agree 100% with the decision to keep the Khan identity secret, but he was still an awesome villain.

    The Iron Man 3 thing… man… I would love that in like a James Bond parody movie, but not a comic book movie that’s supposed to be taken seriously. Especially after the trailers pumped the Mandarin up to be this great enemy, the Trevor revelation was a huge letdown. That twist didn’t add anything of substance to the movie. It just made people confused and angry. I’m not a comic book reader by any means, but I didn’t really like it because it wasn’t the right decision for the movie.

    • the only angry people i have seen are on here. the 2 theater showings i saw of IM3 had people applauding at the end. i never heard 1 boo or anything negative from anyone. there are a few people on here who think that because they found the film lacking, that anyone else who does like it is an idiot.
      was it perfect? no. did it have some weak points? yes. tell me one film that doesnt have some kind of issue. if you found the film enjoyable, then the film did it’s job. if you didn’t like it, then you didn’t like it. i do have to agree that shane black was the wrong director for this type of film. he should stick with the more mature themed films, such as KKBB.

      • Shawshank redemption…. flawless

  25. I’ve not seen the new Star Trek yet but the bad guy freed by who people consider a good guy from cryofreeze and runs a riot sounds a little bit from Demolition man.

    • Correct, and Demolition Man came out after Wrath of Khan. That’s like saying the story of Carey is based off of Chronicle.

  26. What I am about to say will most certainly upset some people. With regard to Iron Man 3, if the film was being produced by an outside film studio, then yes, we would have just cause to be upset, but Marvel Studios is part of Marvel as a whole. They have the legally supported right to do what they want with their characters, and if they felt the Manderin should be interpreted as a cover up for a far greater threat, then we have absolutely no right to question their judgment. Once you get past this admittedly shocking twist, you can appreciate the movie as a whole as being a powerful personal story for Tony Stark.

    • I have trouble believing in a “powerful personal story” that completely negates the “powerful personal story” that came before it.

      Forgive me for thinking this way, but as technically the FOURTH film of the Iron Man franchise, I expect character development to continue to move forward, not take ten steps backwards.

      • Fair enough, but it makes perfect since why they did what they did. Tony is a narcissist, and he’s always belived he was above reproche, even after becoming a hero. Experiencing what he did in the Avengers, it’s no wonder that he finds himself in a state of complete psychological disarray, which is a battle he must inherently confront in his own mind, not in the physical world with the suit. It makes since that there would be far less action this time around. I’m not saying this was the best direction to take the character in, I’m just saying that givin that they did, they did it very well.

      • i would say his growth seemed to go a bit sideways, not backwards, but opinions vary.

  27. Villains with a twist are good as long as the twist itself is good. The twist in Ironman 3 was just dumb. I’ll admit I did think it was funny, but it was just a bad idea in the end. The same goes for Bane. The character was menacing at first, but then it is revealed that he is nothing more than a henchman like in a “Batman And Robin”.

  28. To me, the article sounds like the only people who know the material from the comic books are pissed off about the mandarin not being real while the majority of people who actually saw the movie because they wanted to instead if knowing the former material were not mad. I mean, the creators of the movie could have just decided to change it up a bit and try to create some original stuff Ina field of events based on past material.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Fanboy syndrome is a cancer that has permeated, and corrupted the movie going experience. To me, and to most, a movie is truly good if it is good based on its own merits, not simply weather or not it perfectly mirrors the comics. If you want the story from the comics, then read the comics. Not changing it up would be redundant. It seems to me that far too many movies are getting a bad rep now days, more than should logically be possible. They can’t all be that bad. We expect too much, or as it is commonly called, hype. Movies should be fun, no more, and no less. Bottom line, hype is a choice we make and an impulse we can control. If we have a bad experience with a movie, in most cases, its our own fault.

      • Showing no concern for continuity is not a fan boy complaint. Let’s say the only knowledge you have of Iron Man is from the movie-verse. You should be able to recognize the character progession and maturation begining from the original IM all the way to the Avengers. That’s three movies worth of character development. Tony’s motivations and actions in IM 3 spits on what he does and learns in the Avengers, and we as viewers are supposed to accept this confusing change that completely conflicts with what happened in the previous movie.

        So again, IM 3 being called bad can have absolutely nothing to do with the Mandarin twist, but for the fact that it ignores what came before it.

        It doesn’t take a fanboy to recognize that.

        • Please, enlighten me… Where did the character development go wrong? Having your own opinion is fine, but implyinging that I am somehow blind to the obvious, and therefor ignorant is repulsive in the highest degree.

        • Thank you Dr. Mindbender
          To the others who posted before- the major complaint is not the lack of consistency with the books but rather movie continuity. For a second I want to treat Iron Man 3 as if the film was truly stand alone- no comic book sources and no previous films.
          The film’s story could have been much better if the twist was executed better. The film could have benefitted from a stronger villain which offered a compelling personal and physical conflict that compliments the hero’s emotional and internal arc.
          Iron Man 3 did not stand well on its own. If the film was not Iron Man and featured another character with no other source material in other media and no previous film, there would not have been muh support for the film.
          Some people think Marvel Studios cannot do wrong but they have and Iron Man 3 is further evidence that while there have been good films the Studio is not perfect

          • Fair, but the absolute bottom line is, Iron Man 3 and any other so called bad films are now firmly planted as part of the cannon of the franchise… Long past time to get over it.

      • > Fanboy syndrome is a cancer that has permeated, and corrupted the
        > movie going experience.

        How does this affect you? If you enjoyed the film, does it matter what anyone else thinks?

        > Movies should be fun, no more, and no less

        To you, maybe. And, “fun” is entirely subjective.

        > If we have a bad experience with a movie, in most cases, its our own
        > fault.

        SMH. If I know what I want in a movie, or what I consider to be good entertainment, how is it my fault?

        Let everyone view the material in their own way. If people want to praise a movie, go right ahead. The same can be said for any naysayer.

        • First point… It offends me when others criticize somethig I like because it makes me feel “wrong” for having an opinion.

          Second point… Fun is just another way of saying entertainment, and that’s what movies are classified as, entertainment.

          Third point… The comics writers and artist were the all time greats… It is foolish to expet any movie to ever be as good as the original source material, and that is ultimatly what hype comes down to, over reaching expectations.

          • > First point… It offends me when others criticize somethig I like
            > because it makes me feel “wrong” for having an opinion.

            People disagree on things all the time. You shouldn’t feel wrong because you have an opinion.

            > Second point… Fun is just another way of saying entertainment, and
            > that’s what movies are classified as, entertainment.

            True. What I’m trying to say is that what is fun or entertaining for you may not be so for others.

            > Third point… The comics writers and artist were the all time
            > greats… It is foolish to expet any movie to ever be as good as
            > the original source material, and that is ultimatly what hype
            > comes down to, over reaching expectations.

            It doesn’t have to exceed the source material. It has to be an entertaining movie FOR THE INDIVIDUAL. However, entertainment is subjective, and so people will either enjoy, be neutral to it, or dislike a movie. It’s an opinion, and it’s OK to have one.

          • “First point… It offends me when others criticize somethig I like because it makes me feel “wrong” for having an opinion.”

            I’d re think coming to this site then.

            • Or any site where debate is encouraged.

            • Or rather, debate itself should not occur. Its just like with religion and politics. Its all the same. I have an opinion, you have an opinion, and we’d both defend our opinion until the day we die. If everyone believes their opinion is right, then no ones opinion is right because their is no way to validate any one opinion as a fact. Having an opinion is an irrelevant superficial construct because opinions don’t carry and weight or matter in the end. Facts carry weight, facts matter, and the fact is Iron Man 3 is part of canon now, so stop complaining about it and get over it. No one will care once Avengers 2 rolls around anyway. Even with its flaws, RDJ’s charisma and humor carry the film, and that’s what people really come to see.

              • Of course, debate should occur. Why in the world would you ever think debate is a bad thing? It is one of the primary ways information disseminates into the larger society. It allows people of disparate views to see a given topic from a different (possibly “opposing”) perspective. Debate is extremely important to an evolving culture, an ever-changing civilization.

                Now, if you say PERSONAL ATTACKS and ARGUMENTS should not occur…well, with THAT I might agree.

                • …pardon me–DO agree.

  29. I think twists are often mistaken for clever writing regardless of whether or not they add anything to the film. I suspect this is why many screenwriters rely on them.

    The twists in Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness were both problematic but in different ways. IM3 could have worked but I don’t find Killian interesting enough as a villain to hold up the 2nd half of the movie. Star Trek’s problem is that the script spends a huge chunk of the movie withholding information about who John Harrison is and wastes a lot of time that could have been used for interesting interactions between Khan, Kirk, and other characters.

    In the end all the setup to get to that reveal is even less interesting on subsequent viewings. At least with Iron Man 3 there is a certain fun involved on repeated viewings watching all the characters react to this inhuman terrorist who we all know is actually a comical addict.

    The Star Trek setup feels like nothing more than obscurantism which isn’t very dramatic or interesting.