Production is beginning on Iron Man 3, and our friends over at SandwhichJohnFilms ScreenRant are reporting that Sir Ben Kingsley (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time) is in talks to play "a villian" for the film.
We also know that Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Scarlett Johansson are all returning from their roles in Iron Man 2, based on casting call sheets that were released two weeks ago. Variety initially reported the scoop that Kingsley was in final negotiations to play "a villian," leading many to assume that he might play the Mandarin. Instead, Kingsley is supposedly playing the role of someone which Variety says is behind "the spread of a virus through nanobots." This story aligns with the rumored plot which Latino Review released, which borrows inspiration from the Iron Man Extremis miniseries.
As we know, Extremis took the Iron Man armor one step further, in which Stark subjects himself to nanotechnology, fusing man and machine and removing Stark's need to wear the armor. It will be interesting to see how much of this storyline writers Shane Black (Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang) and Drew Pearce use and how this would fit into the over Marvel movie canon. Kingsley playing the Mandarin is not out of the league of possibility (as he seems perfect for the role), so I wouldn't hold any weight to the statements made that he's playing a minor character. Kingsley is too big and too bankable to be given a secondary role.
While Kingsley joining the film is good news, other much bigger issues in my mind remain. Black's reputation as a screenwriter is inconsistent to say the least (Last Action Hero, Long Kiss Goodnight), and he hasn't written a real winner since 2005's Bang. Pearce has only television credits to show, and with Jon Faverau gone and Black now directing, I worry that we might not have the right talent needed to pull of a good script.