[Update: Marvel Studios released official Iron Man 3 plot synopsis.]

Even as the public’s eye remains firmly fixed on The Avengers, Marvel is preparing to begin production on Iron Man 3 this summer. Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) is co-scripting and directing the latter project, which is supposedly being fashioned as a (primarily) standalone feature – more in the vein of a gritty, globe-trotting Tom Clancy thriller than its predecessors.

Latino Review is claiming to have an inside scoop on the storyline for the third Iron Man flick, which the site says could be borrowing elements from Warren Ellis’ famous “Extremis” comic book mini-series. More so, that could also set the stage for the appearance of iconic IM baddie Mandarin in the movie threequel (more on that later).

Ellis’ “Extremis” mini-series is a six-issue Iron Man story arc which is generally considered to be among the best IM stories ever written. It deals with a military nanotechnology serum (the story’s namesake) meant to replicate the effects of the Super Soldier Serum used to produce Captain America. In order to defeat a dangerous terrorist figure known as Mallen, Tony Stark eventually undergoes the Extremis process, essentially making him a cyborg without having to wear his actual Iron Man suit.

POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!!

According to Latino Review, the plot of Iron Man 3 will indeed involve nanobots that “make villains [and] can also make Tony Stark more than a man in a suit.” The Avengers will reportedly set the stage for such a development, when Captain America supposedly inspires Stark to develop said technology – as foreshadowed in the teaser trailer with Steve Rogers’ line to Tony (“Big man in a suit of armor. Take that away, and what are you?”).

Will The Mandarin appear in ‘Iron Man 3’?

How would Mandarin fit into the equation? Well, the IM antagonist (in a later comic book story) eventually gets ahold of the Extremis tech and unleashes it on the general population as a “virus,” seeing how only a small percentage of people who possess a rare genetic sequence can survive the Extremis process.

The Mandarin’s eventual appearance in the live-action Iron Man movie franchise has been foreshadowed since the first film, with the inclusion of a terrorist group known as “The Ten Rings.” Prior to his dropping directorial duties on Iron Man 3, series helmer Jon Favreau frequently discussed his interest in featuring Mandarin as the threequel’s central baddie – and indicated that we would indeed be getting a more realistic and grounded (re: non-magical) version of the character, which would comply with Black’s plan for the IM threequel to feature “real world villains.”

Bear in mind, this is primarily speculation right now. That’s not to mention, Black previously downplayed the idea of Mandarin showing up in Iron Man 3 by dismissing the character as a “racist caricature” in most of his comic book incarnations. Of course, Black could be pulling a fast one similar to what Zack Snyder did with the idea of Zod appearing in Man of Steel (ie. dismiss and/or play down the rumors without actually denying the villain as a possibility).

That Black and his Iron Man 3 co-writer Drew Pearce have utilized elements from the “Extremis” mini-series seems reasonable enough. After all, the first IM flick likewise incorporated that comic’s updated backstory for Tony Stark’s first deadly injury (and subsequent invention of the prototype Iron Man suit). Nanobots would also make a sort of logical sense, in terms of where Stark would think to go next with the IM technology – but, of course, that’s a matter of opinion.

Principal photography on Iron Man 3 gets underway this May, in order to make a May 3rd, 2013 U.S. theatrical release date – so expect to hear more about the project (and whether or not there’s any truth to the aforementioned rumors) over the next couple of months.

Source: Latino Review, MTV