I've seen Iron Man, I've not seen Star Trek, but have read a lot of spoiler-y discussion about it, so, while my Iron Man thoughts are based on the movie, my Star Trek thoughts are based on what other people have reported about the movie.
This is something I originally wrote in a comment on Greywash's post over on Dreamwith, http://greywash.dreamwidth.org/43081.ht
Her post included, among other points, the observation that our fannish culture frowns on spoiling plot points, and that this interferes with having fully free and open discussions about issues related to works that are just recently released, at the times when the discussion SHOULD be most relevant. She was wondering to what extent this is deliberate.
Right now, we've got two studios with whitewashing things in their villains, both of which are spoilery, both of which the studios did what they could to cover up the details.
In STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, we've got a white actor (Cumberbatch) playing an Indian character (Khan) who is being presented as a white character (Harrison) (who was originally played by a Hispanic actor). And the original character is one who has progressive things to say about racial equality -- the idea that the Aryan Superman was actually, y'know, Aryan rather than "Aryan" is kind of a jab at white supremacists, I think.
Then, in IRON MAN 3, we've got an Indian actor who is known for his ability to play white (Kingsley) playing a white actor (Smiley) who is playing a Chinese character (the Mandarin), who was originally an incredibly offensive stereotype of the Yellow Peril -- but who's re-worked into a deliberate amalgam of all the stereotypes of white people's fears of "the other".
And IRON MAN 3 ALSO manipulated the fannish social conventions about spoilers AND the current racebending/whitewashing issues in THEIR marketing -- but the other way. They hid the fact that they WEREN'T being offensive, in order to make the reveal work. They have been willing to take the hit to their potential box office -- been willing to be perceived as racist in order to NOT be racist and to make their commentary on racism in comic book universes more effective.
Adding just a little more flavor into the mix is characters of color being played by actors of color who aren't the SAME color: Hispanic Montalban as Indian Khan, and Indian Kingsley as Chinese Mandarin. That's not directly relevant to the rest of this, but it's another emotional resonance.