On the heels of Captain America 2 getting a release date and just before The Avengers hits theaters, Marvel is putting a little heat under ol' Shellhead's armor: Robert Downey Jr. will face off against Sir Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3. But the Oscar winner won't be playing who you think he will.
For some reason, the very mention of Kingsley as a comics villain brings the Mandarin to mind. But while Jon Favreau dropped Mandarin clues in Iron Man 1, and would've featured that classic Iron Man villain if he'd stuck around for Part 3, writer-director Shane Black is taking a different path.
According to Variety, insiders have denied that the wealthy Chinese scientist—and wielder of a magically delicious set of rings—would be the Big Bad and claim that
Kingsley's character would play a role that revolves around the spread of a virus through nanobots, given that Iron Man 3 is loosely based on Warren Ellis' six-issue Extremis miniseries that introduced a new origin story for Iron Man and focused heavily on nanotechnology.
Extremis also dealt with the attempt to re-create the super-soldier serum that was used to create Captain America, and I'm sure that, post-Avengers, that could easily play into an Iron Man sequel's storyline.
So, not the Mandarin ... but do you wish it were? I kinda do.