2013, Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) -- cinema
This movie answers the question of where they can take the superhero after he has saved the world? Well, into personal revenge and defeating domestic terrorism. Superhero groups are not going to regroup to deal with just a dramatic version of Bin Laden when their inaugural event involved the confirmation of extraterrestrial life. So, on his own Tony draws The Mandarin out of the camera's shadow and into the bright spotlight. Along the way he saves the President, defeats a new breed of super soldier and overcomes his dependency on the super power suit and heart-magnet. Tony can still accomplish quite a lot without a god and a giant green rage monster tagging along. The Mandarin, is an out of left field addition to the Extremis story and the revelation of who this villain is is even further out to field. Ben Kingsley is absolutely brilliant as this odd asian influenced, "american preacher" accented villain with a bit of a ... secret. Such a small role but soooo enjoyable.
The Extremis story comes from the comic series by Warren Ellis, but they give him little credit. Ellis introduced a new breed of supersoldier formula hijacked by a supremist who sought ultra-violent vengeance against the American government. The raw element of the story is here, some characters and the Extremis drug itself, but little else. I would be more upset but I think Black did what he needed with the core of the story, if sanitizing it a bit of its ultraviolence. As the movie sets in a large scale battle between supersoldiers and AI controlled power armor, the brilliant note of Black's direction fades into a standard humdrum blockbuster battle but really, this is always the hardest part of any movie. Everything else makes up for it.