It was not an easy choice to greenlight, but Marvel chief Feige says it’s sometimes important to break with tradition, even at the risk of alienating some purists. “Shane really had a lot of great ideas about identity and about false faces and about anonymity,” he said.
Black and co-writer Drew Pearce proposed this argument in favor of The Mandarin twist: “What if he’s sort of this all-things-to-all-people uber-terrorist? What if he is the myth, and in the end that is what we’re dealing with, a created myth that [a research group] has perpetuated and cobbled together using elements from popular consciousness,” Black says. “It felt like it said more about the world we live in than just having [Iron Man] fight another terrorist, as opposed to putting a spin on it that said something about the way we view terror, perhaps.”
“What it says to me is, we have to be careful. We want to find villains in the world, but it’s a complex world,” Black adds. “If you’re smart in this world, you’ll rule by proxy because the minute you stick your face out there and assign yourself to the role of international villain you become this symbolic target.”
Was it hard to persuade Marvel to take that leap with one of its classic villains?
“Do they hand me a blank check and say, ‘Go break something!’ Or, ‘Go violate some long-standing comic book treaty that fans have supported for years?’ No, but they’ll say: ‘Let’s break something together,’” Black says. “So it’s okay to come up with these crazy things, these far out ideas … and they’ll fly. It’s just that the Marvel guys have to be in the room.”
The other truly shocking thing is that the movie’s secret managed to stay under wraps. There were no early revelations of the twist, and most outlets have refrained from discussing it in a story like this until after the movie opened. Now, of course, it’s fair game to discuss.
So now let’s look back at how the filmmakers protected that secret.
“We’ve been very honest,” Feige notes.
NEXT PAGE: Marvel deceived us all — by never lying