In April, we reported that Ben Kinglsey was in talks to play the villain in Shane Black‘s Iron Man 3, and the character would be involved in the spreading of a nanobot virus. However, it looked like the villain would not be Iron Man’s (Robert Downey Jr.) vaunted arch-nemesis from the comics, The Mandarin. However, today it’s being reported that The Mandarin will indeed be Tony Stark’s foe in the upcoming sequel, but possibly not in the capacity that fans imagined.
Hit the jump for more, including the first photos from the set. The film also stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Rebecca Hall, James Badge Dale, Ashley Hamilton, and Guy Pearce. Iron Man 3 opens May 3, 2013. [Update: We’ve removed the unofficial images.]
According to Latino Review, Ben Kingsley will play the Mandarin, but “he’s more a veiled threat as a silent partner to Guy Pearce’s [scientist] Aldrich Killian. Killian is the man inventing Extremis and putting it into his ‘Extremis army’ of multiple super-powered individuals.” Those super-powered individuals could very well be Coldblood (Dale) and Firepower (Hamilton), who get their powers out of the Extremis project.
CBM reports, “Mandarin had a set of twins that did most of his dirty work for him. Another source who had visited EUE/Screen Gems Studios told us that the sets they were building included Chinese storefronts,” but LR says that’s “not exactly true.” I trust Latino Review more than Comic Book Movie.
For those unfamiliar with the comics, the Mandarin draws his power from ten mystical rings. The “ten rings” have been mentioned in passing in the movies, but they’ve been reworked into a criminal organization. Presumably, Iron Man 3 is where the organization finally comes to the forefront. The Ten Rings were mentioned by name in the first act of Iron Man, and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige says the sequel will return to that part of the story, at least metaphorically:
Metaphorically, we’re not going back to the cave there’s nothing like that, but we’ve always said let’s get Tony back to the cave, which is he’s stripped of everything, he’s backed up against a wall, and he’s gotta use his intelligence to get out of it.
While I’m sure we can expect denials out of Marvel’s camp regarding The Mandarin as the movie’s villain, Latino Review has earned their credibility when it comes to Marvel projects, and this story rings true.
Finally, since filming has now begun in North Carolina, the first set photos have begun to leak online. Check some of them out below, click over to Facebook for more, and expect plenty more as cameras continue to roll throughout the summer.