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Ben Kingsley in Talks to Star as ‘Iron Man 3′ Villain

Ben Kingsley
Walt Disney Pictures

The ‘Iron Man’ films haven’t always been good (see: ‘Iron Man 2′) but have always cast some pretty talented and impressive actors as their villains (see: Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges and Oscar-nominee Mickey Rourke). That trend continues with the upcoming ‘Iron Man 3‘ which looks to add Oscar-winner (‘Gandhi’) and three-time Oscar-nominee Ben Kingsley to its cast as the film’s villain.

But who will Kingsley be playing?While it might seem fitting that Kingsley would play Mandarin, a famous “big bad” from Iron Man’s comic book days (and whose presence has slyly been hinted at throughout Jon Favreau’s two films), Variety reports that Kingsley will not be playing Mandarin.

Instead, the “nanobots” rumor has been confirmed and, if ‘Iron Man 3′ really will follow the “Extremis” mini-series, it’s possible Kingsley would be playing Mallen, the villain of that piece. Mallen’s official biography on Marvel.com lists “extraordinary strength, the ability to breathe fire and project electricity” as his powers and he’s described as a “domestic terrorist” who is injected with a nanobot version of Captain America’s supersoldier serum (spoiler alert: it doesn’t turn out well for Mallen).

[UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter notes their sources say Kingsley would "not be the primary villain" so it's very possible Mandarin still makes an appearance. Also, why hire Sir Ben Kingsley to play your villain and not have that villain be the big bad?]

Writer Shane Black, who had previously collaborated with star Robert Downey, Jr. on ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’, has written the script and will direct for Marvel.  ‘Iron Man 3″ is scheduled to hit theaters on May 3, 2013.

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