Even as the massive critical and financial success of The Avengers has us looking back at the history of Marvel’s shared movie universe, the studio has its gaze fixed firmly on the future – beginning with Iron Man 3.

Principal photography on the Iron Man threequel has reportedly gotten underway at the sound stages in Wilmington, North Carolina. As many reading this article are already well-aware: seasoned action filmmaker Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) is calling the shots.

This announcement comes courtesy of Latino Review, which is also the same site responsible for breaking the news about the storyline for Iron Man 3 being heavily influenced by Warren Ellis’ “Extremis” comic book mini-series. That scoop has since been all but officially confirmed.

As Screen Rant has continuously reported over the past two months: the third Iron Man film looks to pit Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) against a nanotechnology virus unleashed upon the world by a sociopathic geneticist (Guy Pearce). Said tech apparently gives rise to a vicious cyborg (James Badge Dale), who is thought to be the mere puppet of a craftier, more intellectual terrorist (Ben Kingsley). The latter character is also heavily speculated as being iconic Iron Man villain The Mandarin in spirit, if not also in name.

Aiding Tony on his latest venture is his ever-loyal assistant/girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), along with a fellow scientist (Andy Lau) and Tony’s old colleague/former love interest (Rebecca Hall).

Iron Man Battles a Chitauri Leviathan in 'The Avengers'

Furthermore, Latino Review is also claiming that Iron Man 3‘s budget has been bumped up from $140 million (similar to that of Thor and Captain America) to $200 million (on a par with Iron Man 2). The logic behind the inflated cost is simple: now that Avengers has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide and picked up lots of critical accolades, Marvel wants Black to deliver not only “a better Iron Man movie but THE BEST Marvel movie, hands down.”

Armed with a terrific cast and (in this writer’s opinion) perhaps the most engaging storyline for an Iron Man movie to date, Black seems positioned to meet Marvel’s challenge head-on. While the writer/director is a newcomer to big-budget, effects-heavy fare, a similar challenge didn’t deter Joss Whedon, whose background was primarily in television prior to The Avengers (save for the $39 million Serenity). Black not only has more experience with big-screen fare – he’s also proven himself to be a killer screenwriter (like Whedon).

That’s all to say: as tough an act as The Avengers is to follow, Iron Man 3 is in a good position to keep Marvel’s win streak alive.

Iron Man 3 hits theaters in the U.S. on May 3rd, 2013.

Source: Latino Review