Ben Kingsley Joining “Iron Man 3”

 Marvel Studios has attracted their fair share of heavyweight actors to take on the roles of villains in their previous films. From Jeff Bridges and Mickey Rourke in the Iron Man films, to Hugo Weaving in “Captain America: The First Avenger”. Even Tom Hiddleston, who was virtually unknown when he was cast as Loki in “Thor”, was brilliant in my opinion (I can’t wait to see how he does in “The Avengers”, by the way).

Now it looks like the folks at Marvel Studios have their villain for Shane Black’s “Iron Man 3”: Academy Award winning actor Ben Kingsley. Variety reports that Kingsley is in final negotiations for the part, though to the disappointment of fans, we are being told will not be for the role of Stark's archenemy, The Mandarin.

The news that Mandarin will not be the villain in “Iron Man 3” comes as somewhat of a surprise, since John Favreau, who directed the first two installments, had shown interest in using the character for the third film. Now that he has moved on, and Shane Black has taken over, it looks like that storyline is closed for now.

Now, maybe I’m not being very open-minded, but looking at images of Mandarin, and knowing certain aspects about him, I just don’t picture Ben Kingsley working for the role anyway. Mandarin is a Martial Arts expert, so unless the filmmakers were planning on scrapping that aspect of the character altogether - and we know how open-minded comic book fans are when the slightest details are changed about a character - then I don’t see Kingsley, age 68, as the ideal choice to play that role. So while I’m sure fans will be disappointed that they won’t be getting to see the most popular choice for the villain right now, the great thing about comic books is that there is no shortage of other villains to choose from. 

Here is what we have learned about Kingsley’s character so far:
“Kingsley's character is involved in the spread of a virus through nanobots, given that "Iron Man 3" is loosely based on Warren Ellis' six-issue "Extremis" comic book series first published in 2005. That arc -- which also heavily influenced the first "Iron Man" pic -- introduced a new origin story and focused heavily on nanotechnology.”
If that description of the role gives anyone else any hints as to who Kingsley might be playing, then feel free to share your wisdom with the rest of us.

For now, we will have to play the waiting game. Production for the film will begin next month, and is slated to be released a year later on May 3rd, 2013. Along with directing the film, Black is co-writing the script with Drew Pearce. Robert Downey, Jr. will reprise the role of Tony Stark, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, and Scarlett Johansson all set to return as well.

While I will be plenty interested to find out what villain Kingsley will play, I’m far more concerned with how well Shane Black will do as the director. The guy doesn't exactly have a long list of films he’s directed - to be specific, it's just one. With most projects, I don’t think it’s as big of an issue, but with Iron Man, he’s taking over for Favreau, who I think established a perfect tone for this franchise. I just hope Black isn't gonna try and change a winning formula too much in order to make the series his own.