Sir Ben Kingsley in Talks to Play ‘Iron Man 3′ Villain [Updated]

Published 3 years ago by , Updated May 3rd, 2014 at 7:40 am,

Iron Man 3 Ben Kingsley Sir Ben Kingsley in Talks to Play Iron Man 3 Villain [Updated]

Next month not only marks the beginning of an action-packed summer of superhero movies, led by Marvel’s The Avengers, but it also hosts the beginning of production on Iron Man 3.

With principal photography creeping up soon, new casting additions have to be completed even sooner and so two weeks ago came a casting call sheet revealing important information about returning characters joining Robert Downey Jr. We know Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johansson are all back from Iron Man 2, and they may just be joined by newcomer Ben Kingsley for the threequel.

Variety has the scoop, reporting that Sir Ben Kingsley is in final negotiations to play “the villain” of Iron Man 3. Any movie fan familiar with Kingsley’s repertoire and of Iron Man’s history may immediately (and justifiably) picture the Mandarin as a good fit for the British actor, but the source specifically states that is not the case.

Instead, Kingsley is apparently playing the man behind the “spread of a virus through nanobots,” adding more credence to the rumored Iron Man 3 plot reported by Latino Review – who’ve held a mighty impressive track record in their Marvel Studios scoops over the years. Their scoop had the Shane Black-Drew Pearce screenplay drawing its premise and inspiration from Warren Ellis’ critically acclaimed “Extremis” miniseries of the Iron Man comic books.

Extremis offered a new origin of sorts for Tony Stark/Iron Man where Stark subjects himself to nanotechnology, the military’s superhero serum substitute, which fuses man and machine and takes away Stark’s need to put on the Iron Man exoskeleton suit we’re familiar with.

As for the Mandarin, he’s been rumored and speculated upon as a villain for Iron Man 3 for years now, so the source claiming Kingsley will not be playing that character shouldn’t be taken as fact. Even if Kingsley is cast under a different name, he could still be the same character. We’ve seen this misdirection before (see: Liam Neeson in Batman Begins). What’s interesting about the report is that in the books, it is the Mandarin who gets a hold of the Extremis technology and uses it to spread a virus… strange how that description from Variety about Kingsley’s character is the same.

The Mandarin character from the comics is of Chinese descent but from an English mother. Even though Kingsley can seemingly play any character of any nationality, the real-world take on the character will likely have a different background.

[Update: According to THR and their “insiders,” Kingsley will not be playing the main villain of Iron Man 3. That means someone else could be playing the Mandarin or this is more misdirection and we’ll have to wait for it to play out.]

Fun fact: Disney is clearly the fond of Kingsley’s villainous acting chops as he also played the antagonist of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

Iron Man 3 begins principal photography in May and is scheduled to hit theaters on May 3, 2013.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes if want to chat Marvel.

Sources: Variety, THR

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  1. I can’t see him playing anyone besides the Mandarin…
    He doesn’t necessarily have to be the guy with the ten magical rings and the big dragon, but he might be portrayed as a billionaire investor/businessman that’s also secretly in control of a certain terrorist cell called The 10 Rings.
    That way, he’s still a real world villain fighting Stark in two ways: pulling the strings in an industrial/environmental war (Roxxon? Oracle?) while also being the mastermind behind the group that captured Stark.
    Basically: Stark is fighting two battles against the same guy – he doesn’t doesn’t know it yet.
    Could work?

    All I know is, I’m NOT a fan of the Extremis story arc, so I’m hoping the source material they use from it is minimum.

    • I’d imagine they’ll take a cue from the Extremis storyline (which I liked quite a bit) but attach an established villain to it (Mandarin) to make it more palatable and probably sell more action figures, which it sounds like they’ve done in the comics.

    • @ The Avenger

      In the Extremis Story arc, does Tony still wear the Ironman armor when he goes out to fight?

      • @WallyWest

        Yea. It makes his reaction time & thought process faster, turning him into a quasi cyborg thing. If you have netflix you can watch the motion comic. They got a bunch of Marvel Motion comics on there BTW

      • Kind of…
        In Extermis, Stark becomes more than a man (which I’m not a fan of). He gets powers: The Extremis virus/serum (basically) turns Stark into a human computer: being able to communicate with computers using his mind and stuff like that – very alienating IMO.

        Anyway, to answer your question: yes, technically he still uses armor during Extremis (but it’s VERY different armor) and as someone mentioned earlier, after the whole Extremis arc, the Skrulls hacked into Stark’s built in computer mainframe and disabled most his powers(almost killing him). After that, Stark made a new suit of armor that essentially lives inside of him – i.e. he can use the suit whenever he wants: there’s no need to physically put it on, since it’s already on him.

        As I’ve said before, I’m really not a fan of the whole thing. Stark is meant to be the guy with the high-tech iron armor, not some weirdo cyborg guy with built in bio-armor.

        • Exactly. While the Extermis story is interesting, it should not be used to base a movie around. All this would boil down to would be fighting a bunch of “normal” super soldiers that are just hard to kill. /yawn Or they could deviate from the story and allow the Mandarin to me one of the few compatible and IM would then fight him. Either option sounds ultimately boring and lackluster.

          I really would prefer them going with the traditional Mandarin so it would be human high tech vs alien magic/tech showdown.

    • The Mandarin rings is Alien Tech based and the Dragon is also a alien

      • Oh, yeah. Well that certainly sounds like a ” real world ” villain, doesn’t it?

        • who cares about real world, u do realise its a marvel movie none of it is real

      • I’m kinda tired of the whole alien angle now…
        It’s a cop out: Thor’s an alien, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are aliens. Before we know it, Batman’s gonna be an alien!

        I say, if Mandarin is in IM3, he should either be the Mandarin from the comics (before they changed the origin to alien-based rings) OR, just have him be a (wealthy) normal human pulling the strings behind the scenes.

        • Mandarin rings in the comics are alien-tech rings. been know in the comics for years.

          • Yes, but originally, they were known to be magical.
            They basically changed the origin a few years ago.

            • Yes but in the first iron man movie, Stark is critically wounded in an ambush and imprisoned in a cave by the terrorist group the Ten Rings with Faran Tahir as Raza: The leader of the Ten Rings.

    • I can’t see him playing the Mandarin. The Mandarin is a big kung fu guy. Kingsley is a small nerd. It wouldn’t work at all.

  2. IM3 Villains? Will if its anything like IM2 then it will be the screenwriters. ahahaha.

  3. I just have one question. if Kingsley does end up playing the Mandarin, why would they call him that? I mean, if it is indeed the Mandarin thats been chosen as the IM3 villain, Disney and Marvel are clearly trying to avoid any kind of racism claims by not casting an asian actor as the Mandarin, but the name doesnt really make sense otherwise. If Kingsley is playing the Mandarin, the character will more than likely be rewritten as middle eastern, so the name wouldnt fit the character anymore. the only way I see it working is if they rename him and show that he’s fond of mandarin oranges.

    • Not sure if you are aware but Sir Ben Kingsley is British Caucasian , not middle eastern dumb@ss. He has been typecast in those sort of roles his entire life though so i can understand thinking otherwise but saying that, unless you live under a rock your entire life you would know his race and nationality.Not sure why you brought race into it but its not racist to cast anyone in any role that differs from their own nationality and race, Sir Ben played Gandhi who was Indian and won an Oscar for his efforts in no way shape or form is that racist! seriously you need to expand your mind.

      • firstly, I am well aware that Kingsley is British, but there is a big difference between casting a caucasian man as a middle eastern character and casting a caucasian man as an asian character. Kingsley and other white actors are often cast as middle eastern characters because they can pull off the look (and according to the US sensus, people of middle eastern descent are technically white anyway). casting Ben Kingsley as a middle eastern character is like casting jackie chan, who is chinese, as a japanese or korean character, or casting Djimon Hounsou, who is from Benin, as a nigerian or south african character. you can cast people as whatever nationality you want so long as they look the part. if Kingsley is indeed playing the Mandarin, theyre going to have to change the characters race, and more than likely his name as well.

        • If I were a casting director, I’d NEVER cast Jackie Chan as a Japanese character – that’s just gonna cause all kinds of offense…

          • Offensive? You mean like Tom Cruise as “THE LAST MOTHEREFFING SAMURAI?”

        • Ben Kingsley is not Caucasian he is British-Indian his brith name is actually Krishna Pandit Bhanji. he get casted as middle eastern cause he look more middle eastern scene of his racial background.

      • I apparently read a very different response. There is no need to fly off the handle with the name calling and accusations of closed mindedness. The commenter didn’t say that Kingsley was middle eastern, but that he could play a middle eastern part, like he did when he was in Prince of Persia. That’s all.

        • Ben Kingsley been casted in Prince of Persia made sense since he look middle eastern and he is actually British-Indian.

      • Ben Kingsley is not Caucasian he is British Indian his birth name is Krishna Pandit Bhanji. he changed his name to Ben Kingsley cause alot of racisim and he thought if he used he actually name he wont get casted in Hollywood movies. before u insult people know your stuff first OK

      • when reading your comment u made me laugh non-stop. u attack someone and say “unless you live under a rock your entire life you would know his race and nationality.” it seems like u dont know nothing about Sir Ben Kingsley.

        Sir Ben Kingsley playing Gandhi made sense cause Sir Ben Kingsley is indian thats why its not racist geez.

        if they casted a caucasian actor to play a actually figure in history like Gandhi it would be consider as an insult and racist. it was very bad enough having John Wayne to play genghis khan.

      • Well, he had Indish ancestors.

    • if Kingsley is playing the Mandarin of cause they will make him middle eastern. did u realise in the first Iron Man movie the character Dr. Yinsen the other fellow captive with Tony Stark is actually in the Iron Man comics is Chinese. in the movie they changed him to be a middle eastern character.

      • Hollywood hates Asian people. Even after all these years, we’re known as sexless kung fu broken English speaking machines. Case in point “Romeo Must Die” Jet Li gets a hug, “Replacement Killers” Chow Yun-Fat gets a handshake.

        • @kneesus

          LOL, yah, it’s true, but watch The Walking Dead. The Korean guy Glenn gets a downright cutie, the farmer’s daughter no less, literally, lol.

          And I love how Hollywood cannot make an Asian action star unless he knows some “mystical” martial art. It’s like if a Chinese guy can out-draw a white guy, toss a grenade through a window, then shoot three guys in the head while running out of a door, the audience will never believe it. But say that he knows some “mystical” thing that normal people don’t understand, and then the audience can start to accept that “yah, he’s Asian, but he can kick ass because he knows somethng magical.” But otherwise if it’s based in reality the audience won’t accept it, lol.

          Sorry to break it to you guys, I’m Chinese, and I bet I can do more of those “action hero” stuff you see in the movies than most of the actors they actually have pretending to do those things… No Kung Fu needed. :-)

  4. Arethey going the two villain route in this one? I don’t care as long as one of them is the Mandarin with his ten power rings

  5. I can see Sir Ben as the Mandarin but just getting him added to the cast is a plus, no matter who he plays. Im still not crazy about this Extremis storyline.

  6. I’d think Kingsley would play the part of the Mandarian character, it just won’t be known as the Mandarian. As somebody already mentioned, that name only makes sense if the character is of Chinese descent. I’d imagine Kingsley will play the part of a foreign millionaire/entrepreneur who supported the Ten Rings gang that we saw in the first movie, but he’s more of a behind the scenes player. They will probably assign some other character to be the “big bad” – the one that directly challenges Iron Man.

    It sort of worries me in a way though. Iron Man 2 was much the same, with Whiplash and Justin Hammer playing the parts of the “big bad” and “behind the scenes player.” Hopefully this time it’ll be done better.

    • However, despite not actually playing the Mandarin by name, I hope Kingsley WILL be wearing rings on every finger, just as a sort of nod to the comics. =)

  7. If they used the Mandarin, they could always give him an alias or something to that effect as I seem to recall him doing that at times. Temugin perhaps to cite his ancestry.

    It’d be rather easy to put the character with the Extremis virus due to the aforementioned storyline where the Mandarin got his hands on it.

    It’d just be rather nice to have the 10 Rings come up again, though it’s a shame they apparently got cut from Iron Man 2. Of course, I’m only saying that since the novelization had that organization be the one who got all of Vanko’s documents for him. Not sure if that was actually meant to be the case in the movie or not.

  8. Now just hear me out for a second. What if Ben is the leader of the 10 Rings. They show him to be an ally of the Manderin but Kingsley himself is actually FING FANG FOOM!

    • [*crickets chirping*]


  9. this nanobot technology sounds very interesting, and it’s a great story/plot for Iron Man 3. I wish I knew more about it though, I’m planning on buying the Iron-Man comic book based on this nanobot technology. The one called ”Extremis Story Arc”.

    but, is it worth it ???

    • I didn’t really like it.
      ‘Ignur Rant’ mentioned you can get the motion comic on Netflix (and it’s available on DVD, and loads of other places), so if I were you I’d just watch that instead of buying the paperback.
      Whichever works out cheaper I guess…
      (My opinion of course)

  10. I think that will play another ironman vilain not mangedin and i hope that will soon another annonce the ironman vilain that will play in ironman 3 movies.

  11. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa was fabulous in Mortal Kombat !! He is the mandarin, using Caucasians to play Asian Characters is stupid, think Dragonball 😛

    • he would be great. also FYI Ben Kingsley is not Caucasians but actually Asian(Indian). Indians are Asians too.

  12. Yup. He’s Mandarin alright.

  13. Oh COME ON! He’s The Mandarin dude! Denying it is ridiculous, insulting even. Unless they change the villain’s name, but either way. Ben Kingsley was born to play The Mandarin, Tom Hiddleston was born to play Loki, Mickey Rourke was born to play Marv. Need I say more?

  14. I’m not against Sir Kingsley playing the Mandarin, i am however against Don Cheadle playing Rhodes. He’s a great actor no doubt but he’s too gentle for the role. the Rhodes i know is macho and always brooding.

    • I agree, Don Cheadle never sold me as Rhodes. It was strange to see the height differences in and out of the War Machine armor.

      • IMO, Cheadle did a much better job portraying Rodey than Howard did…

        • wrong Don Cheadle is a good actor but he is no Rhodes. Howard was way better.

          • Disagree regarding Howard being a better Rhodes. He played him so damned “soft” – with that whispery voice and whatnot. Rhodes is a bad ass, tough as nails character.


            • Rhodes is a bad ass but he has aclose friendship to Tony. Don performance never felt they had a friendship he felt dull imo.

              Howard was alright as Rhodes alot of people i know liked him compare to Don Cheadle. to be honest when Marvel was going to recast Howard as Rhodes i rather wanted Cuba Gooding Jr, Jamie Foxx or Idris Elba (before he was casted as Heimdall).

              • mace,

                The lack of closeness came from the situation they found themselves in within the story. They were pretty much at odds from their first frame together.

                And actually, I always thought that Wesley Snipes would be a perfect Rhodey. :)


                • @ Vic

                  I was skeptical about Cheadle at first but thought he was better than Howard after watching both films enough times. Even though we never seen Howard in the War Machine armor, not sure he’d be tougher with what you say that whispery voice of his. Cheadle was great as both Rhodey & War Machine imo.

                  I always wondered if Michael Jai White would be perfect for the role as Rhodey/War Machine. If he was younger & DC/WB stepped up their game alittle, i too wondered aswell think he’d be a good GL John Stewart.

                • i know that but Don Cheadle has no swagger as Rhodes. Wesley Snipes as u mention would of been great as Rhodes. if he was casted everyone would go nuts.

                  i really hope Marvel Studio wont reboot Blade.

            • I agree with Vic and The Avenger, Howard seemed too much like a pansy to be Rhodes. Cheadle definitely gave him that tough-guy edge that he so desperately needed…

          • How can I be “wrong” in stating my opinion?

            • @The Avenger

              Well, I’ll bring it back to neutral by saying you’re right. :-)

              I liked Cheadle WAY better than Howard as well. We don’t need a little soft-spoken pansy playing Rhodes…

  15. Just curious of what everyone thought if Fing Fang Foom was done & looked somewhat as the dragon seen in The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor? Any thoughts?

    • It’s not the dragon race itself that’s the problem but the silly name. They could easily sidestep FFF and just have a dragon-esque skeleton(s) in the spaceship. That’s all we need to see or know about the owners of the power sources.

    • I think the more magical te better. Fing Fang Foon cld work if done tastefully. Stark is a arrogant know it all when it comes to tech but seeing him out of his comfort zone against magic wld be cool. And i really dont care to see robots fightin robots showdown again. lol.

  16. Not to get too off topic but I think one movie franchise that could really benefit from a fresh breath of life would be the Adventures of Sinbad from the 70’s.

    I mention this because I think Kingsley would be perfect in the role of the main antagonist, Koura played by Dr. Who’s Tom baker in, “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad”.

  17. I can’t see how Iron man 3 would work if they didn’t go the magical route since The Avengers will expand that world. I’d really like to see a bigger Iron man film with more depth, maybe one that RDJ doesn’t carry by himself. Marvel would be foolish not to continue the cameos, it’s their strongest strategy.

  18. I agree with cronotronicdextra about if they didn’t go the magical route. Especially if they plan to make a solo film for Dr. Strange. I mean, don’t tell me they’ll have him using fancy gizmos instead of practicing magic.

  19. Vic,

    I’d say neither Cheadle nor Howard fits the bill for Rhodey and his ‘bad-ass’ personality. Cheadle, I believe few would argue, is a more versatile actor and thus probably makes a better attempt at being Rhodey but his tiny frame let’s him down for me. Howard has a better build IMO (if only that was enough!)If only Ice Cube was a much better actor, he’d probably be it. Hey, then again Rhodey is not exactly a thespian challenge is he? RDJ would compensate.’State of the Union’ Ice Cube it is for me.

    Anyways, we’ll get used to Cheadle as Rhodes eventually (hopefully).

    • ‘Mace’ actually brought up a good point: Jamie Fox would have made a pretty good Rhodey – especially since he and RDJ are great friends in real life – the on-screen “chemistry” would have been awesome IMO.
      Anyway, I still think Cheadle does a great portrayal of Rhodes. I can’t wait to see him in his upgraded War Machine armor in IM3!

  20. @Ken J, soft-spoken/whispery doesnt mean woosy. It’s just stereotype. Go ahead and ask Mike Tyson

    • @Claude

      Well, Terrance Howard is no Mike Tyson, other than the soft-voice, he displays plenty of other traits of a wussy… Does he look built to you or look like he knows how to box? Not really a good comparison…

  21. I’m sure you understood my point on soft voice stereotype :). As for build- I think Cheadle was comparatively leaner. Howard looked sharper in the military uniform IMO. But all in all, neither really hit it off as Rhodey for me. Like someone said Cuba Gooding or Jamie Foxx would have been better.

  22. I kinda wanted to see Ultron in here

  23. Was Ken Watanabe busy? Jesus Christ floating down a river. Chow Yun-Fat? Andy Lau?

    • @kneesus

      Watanabe is Japanese. Honestly as a Chinese person myself, I’d be more offended if they had a Japanese guy play a Chinese character than if they had a white guy or an Indian guy (as in from India or similar ethnic groups around India) such as Ben Kingsley play a Chinese character…

    • @kneesus

      Oh, and Chow Yun Fat is a terrible actor, but Andy Lau I like. But I’m fine with Kingsley…

  24. Some one in hollywood that happens to be a casting director needs to lay off the reefer! Hey man kingsley as mandarin, ken watanabe? An entire continent of orientals and you cast ben!?! Ben!?!? Is the casting director blind? Do i need to forward him a memo in brail? Is he a crack addict? Lets cast samuel l. Jackson as Hitler in a WW2 film, or have bill murrey star as micheal jackson (at leaste thier both white!!!) Or how about steve buscimi as chris farley in a made for t.v. movie!!!… really? Ben!?, ben!?!?, guess what movie will not be earning my hard cash opening weekend, i’d rather sit through a three hour lecture on how to weave a turtle neck out of ones own belly button lent!!! What? Whats that , you’ll pay for my ticket!? Sorry i have to braid my toe hairs tonight, can’t make it…

    • @winter

      Uh, I don’t know why people keep referring to Ken Watanabe… He’s Japanese, I personally think it’s more offensive to hire a Japanese actor to play a Chinese character than someone like Ben Kingsley… Just saying…

  25. I heard Dr. Chen lu (aka Radioactive man) played by Wang yueqi will also be in this film. At least they added one Asian actor playing an asian role. I personally think Ben Kingsley will be great as The Mandarin.

  26. BAM! You nailed it with that update, Rob.

    [Update: According to THR and their “insiders,” Kingsley will not be playing the main villain of Iron Man 3. That means someone else could be playing the Mandarin or this is more misdirection and we’ll have to wait for it to play out.]

    It was not misdirection at all.

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