Even with incredibly positive word of mouth, near universal approval from critics, and an opening weekend box-office haul that put every other non-Marvel movie in history to shame, there's one part of "Iron Man 3" that has audience members firmly divided. It's quite possibly the biggest twist yet unveiled in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it's also the biggest diversion the films have taken from their comic-book source material. Yeah, this is a bigger change than Hawkeye not wearing his purple mask.
MTV News caught up with moviegoers fresh off of director Shane Black's thrilling action film to find out what they thought of the big reveal. This is a change so big that finding it out now could potentially ruin your movie-going experience, so if you are one of the very few people who didn't shell out money to see Shellhead's latest adventure last weekend, look away now for this article has officially entered the Spoiler Zone.
After a daring raid on the Mandarin's Miami compound, in which Tony Stark puts his collection of Home Depot weapons to good use, Stark comes face to face with the mighty Mandarin, played by Sir Ben Kingsley. Or actually, he comes face-to-face with Trevor Slattery, a boozed-up, formerly homeless actor playing the role of the Mandarin in exchange for drugs and speed boats.
"[The Mandarin reveal] was very unexpected," says Mabel Rodriguez, summing up pretty much everyone's reaction to the plot point in one phrase.
The Mandarin has long been Iron Man's arch-nemesis, ever since he first fought Tony Stark in comics published in 1964. Because of his prominence in the comics, many fans were expecting more from the Mandarin. "It was interesting because in the comic books, Mandarin is a huge character," says Fareeda Bullert. "To see that he was more of an actor, it wasn't expected."
"He's a badass villain [in the comics]," echoes Manuel Santiago. "I wasn't expecting what happened to happen."
Some fans, like Matt Lembeck, thought that turning the Mandarin into a punchline cheapened the overall experience of "Iron Man 3." "I think that part was kind of silly," Lembeck said. "I didn't like it as much. I think the villain in the first one was better."
Others, like Santiago, thought that director Shane Black and screenwriter Drew Pearce missed an opportunity to tie the Mandarin into the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe's mythology.
"I was expecting there to be a tie-in with the Thanos character," Santiago said. He also was more than a little disappointed that the film didn't address one dangling plot thread" the Ten Rings, a crime organization introduced in "Iron Man." The name is a reference to the Mandarin's 10 rings, from which he draws power.
"The Ten Rings were in the first movie and they brought that up in the third movie, but when it didn't come around, finding out what's been going on with the Mandarin, and you find out he's not what you expected him to be, it was like a smack in the face."
Smack in the face aside, people still found Kingsley's scene-stealing and slurred turn as a clueless imposter endlessly entertaining.
"He was great," says Aidan Shepard. "I thought the twist was excellent. I think it worked in this movie, very much so. I think it was an excellent decision."
"I thought it was hilarious," Bullert agreed. "It was definitely surprising, and it didn't disappoint me at all."
Check out everything we've got on "Iron Man 3."