Note, if you haven't seen Iron Man 3 yet, then this article is basically going to be one giant SPOILER.
More than a year on, it still hurts. The pain. The heartache. The existential angst. More than anything else, the sense of loss. For those who felt betrayed by Iron Man 3's portrayal of The Mandarin, these things don't just go away. They linger on like Tony Stark at an open bar.
This is the aftermath of the film's biggest twist - the division of fans into those who think of The Mandarin as Iron Man's greatest villain and nothing less, and those who liked the unexpected turn Iron Man 3 chose to make with the character.
Intriguingly, one of the Iron Man 3 cast has finally broken his silence on the issue - Aldrich Killian himself, Guy Pearce, spoke to IGN recently, and revealed his thoughts on the twist, and on The Mandarin's role within the film:
"Personally, I loved it, and I was never a comic book fan growing up so I have no attachment to the [Mandarin]. I mean, I get it. The loyalty to those characters, I totally get it, but based on the sort of single-entity movie -- and particularly based on Ben Kingsley's performance -- I just adored what that turned into. But I do certainly understand that some die hard fans kind of went, 'Aww... Come on!' [Laughs]"
While there is certainly an argument for both sides of the debate - and it's good to see a star actually engage with the impact their film has on the fans - what Pearce doesn't address is the development we saw in the follow up Marvel One Shot All Hail the King. This teased the existence of a real Mandarin - and set up a meeting between him and Ben Kingsley's fake variant.
Which suggests that we might not have seen the end of the Ten Rings just yet - and there might just be a way for everyone to see the version of The Mandarin that they love on the big screen. One that doesn't technically make him Guy Pearce.
[Iron Man 3](movie:24391) is available on DVD and assorted other media now.