Brace yourselves, ‘Iron Man’ fans. News just broke that the third installment in the popular franchise will be co-produced in China, all but guaranteeing that the name "Mandarin" will be written nearly 500,000 in superhero message boards as speculation runs rampant that the legendary nemesis will play some part in the sequel.

Walt Disney Pictures announced in a statement (below) that Shane Black will direct part of ‘Iron Man 3’ in China, allowing DMG Entertainment to invest in the feature as well as coordinate the project’s filming schedule while overseas. “The co-production of ‘Iron Man 3’ in China is testimony to the importance of this audience to Disney and the local industry capability to deliver a blockbuster title,” said Stanley Cheung, Managing Director, The Walt Disney Company, Greater China.

It also opens a huge can of worms regarding the possible involvement of the Mandarin, a villain Iron Man fans have been clamoring for ever since Robert Downey Jr. first donned the suit in 2009.

Here’s what we know about ‘Iron Man 3’ already. It will return RDJ, Gwyneth Paltrow (as Pepper Potts) and Don Cheadle (as James Rhodes and, we assume, War Machine). Recently, Sir Ben Kingsley was rumored as being in negotiations for an unnamed role. And the plot, we believe, will follow the popular ‘Extremis’ mini-series from the Iron Man graphic novels.

But is there room for the Mandarin? We’ll find out soon enough. ‘Iron Man 3’ is expected to begin filming in Wilmington, N.C. in May, and will continue location shooting in China near the end of Summer 2012.