Ben Kingsley to Play The Mandarin in IRON MAN 3? Plus First Photos from the Set [Updated with Patriot Armor Set Photos]

     May 30, 2012


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 PearceIron 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.

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Around The Web
  • Masshuu il Thulcandra

    Yes, I’m sure Ben Kingsley could pull of playing Chinese villain “THE MANDARIN”, after all he plated Indian hero/martyr Mohandas Gandhi. My question is why would they do that? There are many talented, little know Asian/Chinese actors who could play it. The only reason I know is they want to add one more big name to the cast list. Lame truly lame.
    I’ll watch it anyway.

    • renner

      The movie is being co-financed and partially filmed in China. As we know, the Chinese government is monotonous for not appreciating their country being portrayed in a negative light in films, and the same goes for most countries. Remember Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and how Chow Yun Fat’s character was completely edited out of the film for it’s Chinese release due to being a villainous caricature?

      Because China is involved with this film, they really can’t have a Chinese actor playing the villain. A movie with an American hero and a Chinese villain isn’t going to fly. So, they decided to go with another ethnicity. I think it will work.

    • Nate H

      Kingsley is half Indian, so it made pretty good sense for him to play Ghandi. His real name is Krishna Pandit Bhanji, for crying out loud.

      He can play the Mandarin. It will be fine.

  • Sanjuro

    So, IF this is true, all that talk of not adapting Mandarin because he’s a racist character was just excuses?
    The racist thing is assuming Mandarin is a racist character to begin with, Stan Lee created heroes and villains of all races, sexes, and creeds, so to single out one as being racist is small minded, to put it mildly.
    Adding to that, casting white people as Asians is racist. Period.
    It’s the racist thing that Hollywood has always been able to get away with it. If you can compare black face and such to alcohol prohibition, then casting whites as Asians is like marijuana prohibition, i.e. everyone knows it’s wrong but it continues because it’s not as blatantly awful.
    So I hope Marvel actually goes with an Asian actor, we need more anyways. I love Ben Kingsly, but wouldn’t he be better as say, Baron Von Struker anyways?

    • LP

      Just in case this is lost on everyone. Ben Kingsley is not white. He speak the white people’s native tongue, but he isn’t white. He’s Indian, and not the Native American type either.

    • chadbot

      Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji, so… yeah…

    • tanner

      But Ben Kingsley is of Indian descent, so while he isn’t Chinese like the Mandarin, he is Asian.

    • Christopherson

      Fury was white in the comics and Marvel cast a black man to play him… is that racist too then?
      You’re a little clueless me thinks…

      • Chris

        Nick Fury WAS white, but in Ultimate Avengers, he’s black … AND even modeled after Samuel L Jackson from day one. So, it’s pretty fitting he plays the role of the character he’s modeled after.

      • PC

        That’s a completely different situation. There is nothing about Fury’s character that says he needs to be portrayed as white. But with the Mandarin, his entire character is tied to his national heritage. Even his name has a very Chinese connotation.

    • eganoipse

      And like the Mandarin, his father was Asian and his mother English. So Kingsley is actually quite perfect for this role…not only as a quality actor, but in terms of his actual heritage as well.

      Wish people would do their homework.

      • PC

        Are you sure you’ve done your research?

        Yes, Kingsley is Indian and yes, India is part of Asia. But I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this or not, but Indians aren’t exactly mistaken for Chinese a whole hell of a lot. They share the same continent, but they’re very different.

        Also, the word Mandarin is a word that only really works in a Chinese context. If there was a blond, American superhero named El Luchadore, it would seem pretty ridiculous, wouldn’t it?

      • Ivan carvallo Roy

        Ben Kingsley was the best choice for the mandarin. He is one of the greatest and most legendary actors alive, although my choice to play the mandarin (if he were still alive) would be Bruce lee. He is of Chinese descent, amazing martial artist, good actor and looks like mandarin

    • eganoipse

      And like the Mandarin, his father is Asian and his mother English. So Kingsley is actually perfect for this role…not only in terms of a quality actor, but in terms of his heritage as well.

      Wish people would do their homework.

    • Blue Leader

      > casting white people as Asians is racist. Period.

      that’s not true, idiot. being prejudiced and perpetuating stereotypes is racist. Also, Kingsley is of Indian descent. So he’s Asian. China isn’t Asia.

      Oh and by the way, assuming no white people are Asian is more racist than having a casting director cast Europeans in Asian roles.

      Maybe Kingsley just rocks the part.

      • Sanjuro

        I’m sorry, did you miss that period in cinema history from the 1920′s to the 70′s where they made white people up with ‘slant eyed’ make up? Did you miss that?
        Oh and by the way, as a few of the white people who played famously played Asian characters were Werner Oland (Swedish) and Boris Karloff (British), both actors I’m a fan. So I think maybe I sorta already meant any European actor.
        Besides, Indian is the Sub-Continent of Indian, because a little thing called the Himalaya Mountains completely cuts Indian off from Northern Asia.
        I was trying to start a bloody dialogue, but I guess I forgot fanboys aren’t capable of having dialogue or intelligent conversations.
        The Mandarin is also Chinese. That might be why he is called The Mandarin. Ben Kingsley being half Indian has nothing to do with anything I said. Ben Kingsley is one the greatest actors of his genration and he can play who ever he wants and do a stellar job.

        But the Mandarin is Chinese, and I don’t know what wrong about me thinking the role should go to a Asian (ie Chinese, Japanese, Korean) actor, and why they should lose the role to a British knight.

        Unless your an idiot who has no understanding of geography, world history and film history.

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  • MarvelFreshman

    I just would like to point out that CBM was not the original source. It was

  • ozzie

    any one wearing the rings becomes the mandarin … they don’t have to be Chinese

    • PC

      That’s not correct. The Mandarin is a title the character gave to himself, the rings didn’t give him the name. It’s not like with Thor’s hammer.

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  • johna

    soooo.. whats with the Patriot Armor?

  • Predash

    Whooooo! Why is Mandarin in the spotlight, when there is the Patriot armor? And we all(?) know, who used that Armor…

    • Sardonicus

      Well, it can’t be Osborn in the movie because Sony still owns the rights to the character.

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  • Nomis1700

    Red/White/Blue armor looks already very very very cool!!!!! Captain Stark!!!

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  • Carlos

    badass iron patriot armor. im thinkin tony stark would use it as a joke for some sort a rally.

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  • Benjamin

    It’s not Iron Patriot it would be Detroit Steel, Norman Osbourne isn’t a part of the MCU but Hammer Industries is so wouldn’t that make more sense?

  • Hideyori

    Iron Patriot armor?! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!!

  • ClarkKent2o6

    It seems to me everyone has missed something very important… Iron Patriot is in fact the armor Norman Osborn wears when he leads the Dark Avengers… less talk about race and more about what matter please?

    • Richard of Norway

      Thank you.

  • jimmy3vil

    That’s totally Jon Favreau in the Patriot Armour, right? Right?!

  • Norris

    Maybe it’s War Machine with a new paint job? It could just be a white stunt dude in the armor instead of Don Cheadle.

    • M-2

      I’m thinking it’s the governments take on the suit, since War Machjne is in the military they studied the suit and produced there own…

      Because, that was mainly what Iron Man 2 was about, Tony told the World that these suits are 10years away from being made and now the government is developing there own…

      It would be a play on the first film again, where Tony finds out his weapons are being sold to the enemy, only now it’s his Suit is being duplicated by many and he feels like he needs to fix it… Hence no other Avengers!

  • Spock Jenkins

    All these people complaining that Ben Kingsley ( half indian/half white ) is playing the half chinese/half western Mandarin:

    Well Liam Neeson played the arabic monikered ‘Rha’s Al Ghul’ in Batman Begins ( as did Ken Watanabe is a sense, playing the decoy ).

    Maybe Mandarin is a title? I’m sure Ben Kingsley isn’t playing chinese, but they’ll tweak Mandarin’s origin for the movie for sure.

    Lol @ the guy that thinks ‘China’ isn’t ‘asian’.

  • Dre

    Ugh great, more yellowface.

    As for what Kingsley is, put it this way: to play Gandhi he needed to brownface; no make-up for Itzhak Stern or Georges Melies.

  • Serpen Phlox

    The fact is… that can’t be Iron Patriot….. I’d think is stunt War Machine photoshop… look at the star in the chest….. IP has not arc generator

  • JZ

    Is barking on about racism really the best thing you guys have to say about this movie? With all of the makeup he might be wearing, he could be a black midget with anorexia and still make an amazing Mandarin…

    Jeez, it’s like you guys LOOK for these little tiny details to fuss about. Just watch the f***ing movie when it comes out, and then you’ll have something concrete to base your cynicisms on.

    Personally, I’ll be cheering the whole way…I don’t give a flying flip who plays who, as long as they somewhat resemble the characters (makeup is a marvelous thing) and have some acting skills. Considering the raving reviews Kingsley got for playing Ghandi, I don’t think there will be any problems in that quadrant.

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned that Ashley is actually a dude…seriously, how does that work? Haha…

    • Dre

      That’s called yellowface, which is racist and offensive. What’s next, bringing back full-on minstrel shows?

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  • Melvin

    For the last time, you’re all assholes who think India and China is all the same. Is USA and Mexico same? Or the former and Canada? I’m sure it’s not. Just like that India is way too different than China. I’m not sure if Ben Kingsley’s descendency might be of any help to the character. Also, I’m an Indian. Jai Hind!

    • shir

      Guys anyone can play The Mandarin role. It doesn’t have to be a Chinese actor. Ben Kingsley is a great actor and this will be a great movie!!! I am a Chinese descent btw

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  • James

    This movie will flop if the studio decides to go ahead and cast Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin. Most modern/young audiences are a little bit more sophisticated than audiences of the 1920′s – 1960′s especially for comic book geeks like me. Ben Kingsley is a great actor but the role of the Mandarin should go to an actor who is of Northeast Asian ancestry (Chinese, Korean, Japanese). Chow Yun-Fat or Ken Watanabe would have been excellent for the role as the Mandarin.


  • Clement

    Isn’t the Mandarin supposed to be a big, powerfully built martial artist? Kingsley is a little nerd. He can’t play the Mandarin.

    • Brand

      Mandarin’s a nerdy half asian kid who lost all his family fortune and found ten power rings of alien origin, so Ben Kingsley does fit pretty well, but it’s saddening to see that rather than cast an ORIENTAL actor to play an ORIENTAL character, they’d rather have just another big name put on the roster. Typical Hollywood.

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