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 think he could make a good villian. maybe a more intelligent villian, able to get into starks head more than previous villians.

  2. PLEASE give this villain some depth. That’s what was missing from both films, a complex villain.

  3. I too think it’s pretty obvious he will be The Mandarin…

    • Fixed that typo, Ken.

  4. Kingsley is a fantastic actor great news

  5. Wait a minute, I thought the extremis dose he took just made his connection to the armor almost instantaneous. I didn’t know he ended up not needing the armor at all. I need to catch up on my Marvel smh.

    • Right, the Extrmis did do that. But after the skrull invasion, Tony’s armor became compromised and he lost most of his extremis powers. In Iron Man Reborn, he and Reed created a new armor that was completely stored in his bone structure a-la the “Bleeding edge Armor.”

      • Ok, you’ve just forced me to spend many dollars to get acquainted with that lol. Thank you!

        • This is why I cant get into the comic books, too many plot archs and story lines. I enjoy the movies as stand alone elements, creating their own universe inspired by (but not recreating) the comics.

          • A-men. That’s just the reason I stopped collecting comics about 20 years ago. It was just getting too expensive and the need to purchase 10 different titles to follow one story arc was ridiculous.

            • If you guys want to get up to speed on what’s happening in comics, then just hit Wikipedia… they have all the important info on all the major events and happenings.
              Before I start with a new series, I always do a quick search to catch me up on what’s been going on…
              So far, it hasn’t failed me.

  6. he played the badguy The Hood in Thunderbirds and as always he is brilliant

  7. He played a great bad guy in Sexy Beast. That actually was great film all away around.

    • he was amazing in Sexy Beast…” some one get me another shirt , I’m as sticky as a c**t !! ” .

      • lol…

    • Heck he was even good iin prince of persia, and he was fantastic in hugo

  8. Until fairly close to the last minute the Mandarin was supposed to be the villain in Iron Man 1. He was supposed to wear the Iron Monger suit that Jeff Bridges ended up wearing…

    • Actually the original villain for ‘Iron Man’ was intended to be Crimson Dynamo. The “Iron Monger” suit was the actual basis of Dynamo’s suit. This can all be confirmed in the making of documentaries on the Blu-ray version in which all the sketches say Crimson Dynamo plus Jon Favreau himself calls the suit Crimson Dynamo. Just saying :)

      • Hmmm… Well, without having seen the Blu-ray documentaries I’m going to make a guess that the Crimson Dynamo was considered the villain up until they started the actual writing of the script for Iron Man 1, they probably designed the suit and then started writing the script and realized that the Crimson Dynamo storyline didn’t quite jibe with Tony Stark’s origin as Iron Man and so they saved that character for Mickey Rourke and Iron Man 2, as he was a Soviet like Crimson Dynamo. But the documentary I saw with Jeff Bridges had him saying that wearing the Iron Monger suit was a last minute suprise as he had been told the Mandarin was going to be wearing that armor almost until they’d shot the final scenes.

        But technically you’re probably correct, Crimson Dynamo was very likely the first villain considered for the Iron Man movies.

        • I think Jeff Bridges character was originally going to be fleshed out over the course of movie 1 & 2 and then become the main bad guy in film 3 (back when Favreau still thought he’d be directing the trilogy). I know they considered the Mandarin for a while, but decided he was too “fantasy” for the tone they wanted to take in the film.

          I think it basically came down to the fact that there would be too many characters in the film if they chose Crimson Dynamo as the villain. This is why the original figure for Iron Monger had red eyes and a red chest because the figure went into production before they changed the character. It is also why Crimson Dynamo appears in ‘Iron Man 2′ (I know he’s called Whiplash, but at the end, THAT IS Crimson Dynamo). Here’s a quote from Favreau himself “later in the film, when Mickey puts on the Crimson Dynamo suit, we wanted to do something different.”

  9. I was cheering for him to portray Dr. Hugo Strange in the Dark Knight Rises when people speculated about it I was so amp up that I immediately thought of Ben Kingsley. But this is good news he can nailed that role …Mandarin of course !

    • Wow…that would have been amazing. smh. I would have loved him in that role.

  10. Sir Ben Kingsley = The Mandarin.

  11. Cool. Coolcoolcool. The man can do no wrong… except for Bloodrayne. Guess even Gandhi needs to eat.

    • LOL!!! Great one

  12. Sir Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin will be just perfect!

    Now Marvel better respect the man’s title and give him a very long leash so he can own this role and give us the great villain we’ve been lacking since the first Iron Man!!!!

  13. I like where this movie is going!

  14. So, if the Mandarin IS the bad guy in IM3, how do they blend that with the terrorist group called “The 10 Rings” that kidnapped Tony in the first place? I assumed that the Mandarin was too far out for portrayal in a more realistic setting, so they covered Mandarin with the leader of that group who kept toying with the ring on his finger.

    • I read an article that explained there WAS a connection between the terrorist group from IM and The Mandarin. Just cant remember when I saw it… I think, from reading this article, it’s a little too obvious that he’ll play Mandarin, but you never know what can happen. Look at Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s role in the upcoming TDKR, he apparently is playing just a cop, but there is hot speculation that his role is more than being told as of yet…

    • Well, Shane Black specifically said Iron Man will be fighting “real world villains” so the 10 Rings being terrorist cells or something makes sense, and that is kind of what Favreau was hinting at before leaving.

      • I’d assume tho’ that Marvel will go with an established villain, hence the Mandarin, as opposed to just some schlub with a ring. If they go back to the 10 Rings storyline it seems that Mandarin will be revealed to be behind it all. Especially since Mandarin’s been considered as the villain in Iron Man from day one…

  15. Hmm

  16. well if kingsley isnt playing the main villian now, who are they gonna get to top him as the main villian? i think whoever they get as the main villian will just be overshadowed by the Ben.

  17. If it looks like The Mandarin, walks like the mandarin, zaps people with rings like The Mandarin, I would say as a fanboy it had darned well better BE The Mandrin! Capice, Mr. Black?

  18. I like the G.I. Joe spin on this nanobites… Boring… Already been done…

    • Nanobites, those are those 100 calorie bag of bite-sized sweets right?? lol

  19. Wow he looks menacing as s**t in that photo above.He’ll be perfect as the Mandarin.And if they make a Flash Gordon remake he’ll also be perfect to play Ming the Merciless which was my first thought.

    • LOL … Ben Kingsley fits on numerous comic book characters I think he doesnt even know it

  20. I just hope they give him more of a personality than Whiplash (yes I realize that was not Rourke’s fault because Marvel wanted to throw in more stuff for the Avengers and took away time for that character to develop). Jeff Bridges was great in Iron Man, albeit he only had one fight scene but still he was very good as a villain. I hope that Kingsley gets this role and they give him plenty of time to develop and also a good deal of fighting with ole Tony and if Rhoady wants to join in the more the merrier I say.

  21. To bring Kinglsey on board and then NOT have him play the Mandarin is just silly…

  22. As much as I think Kingsley would make an almost perfect Mandarin , torn straight from the comic book page, I don’t believe he’ll end up playing the Mandarin.

    Let’s be honest. The Mandarin , as he has most often been portrayed in the Marvel universe, has all the characteristics , a LOT of the typical stereotypes of the Asian/Chinese villain. Negative stereotypes that would be offensive to most Chinese and American Asian peoples. And offensive to most non Chinese people as well ( I would hope. )
    Such a portrayal would be out dated and racially insensitive. I doubt the IM3 team at Marvel want to go anywhere near that. ESPECIALLY when Hollywood just made a deal to distribute American films in China at an unprecedented level.
    Shane Black himself has stated numerous times that the Mandarin was not going to be an option as a villain for IM3. ( The update would seem to validate this. )
    That said, Ben Kingsley in an IM movie might just make up for that last 2 hour sitcom Paramount and Marvel punkd us with ( IM2).

    • Zack Snyder said Zod wouldn’t be in the new Superman movie. Just saying.

      • True. But Snyder never “specifically” stated who WOULD BE the villain(s).

        Shane Black has told us who WILL BE the villains: ” real world villains. ”

        The Mandarin is anything but “real world.”

        • True but just like Mr. Rob Keyes pointed out earlier, Favreau laid the groundwork for the Ten Rings being a terrorist cell and the Mandarin being their leader and I’m sure they could find a way to make Mandarin more modern or “real world”. I’m just really hoping for this because he is ole Shell Head’s archnemesis

          • Yeah but the inclusion of Thor kinda throws out the real world aspect to the stories, if Thor and Loki can happen in the same movie universe then so can Mandarin.

      • And Nolan said he’d never have Bane in his Batman movies…
        Things change.

    • He’ll be The Mandarin. I think the update just means there’ll be more than one villain in the next film besides Ben Kingsley’s character. And I’m sure they will avoid the more dated/racially charged version of the Mandarin as he was first conceived, that wouldn’t be too difficult to update him as they have in the comics.

  23. Seriously, Ben Kingsley is the best actor I have seen in cinema, EVER!! I cite other films he has been in, Gandhi, Oliver Twist, Schindler’s List, Hugo, The Last Legion, Prince of Persia, Twelfth Night, and he was only a supporting role in that one. This man, has the acting ability to be amazing as any character. If he does not end up playing the Mandarin, I will be so very disappointed in Marvel.

  24. And if they ever make a Flash Gordon film, who would they get to play Flash, opposite Kingsley in the role of Ming?

    • Adam Sandler!

    • Patrick wilson!

  25. My first guess would be The Controller. His character fits into ‘The Avengers’ and also has ties to Thanos (a rumoured villain to appear or at least be hinted at in ‘The Avengers’).

    My second guess is unlikely, but still plausible; Ezekiel Stane. It would tie the film back to the first ‘Iron Man’. You could argue that he’s too old to play the character, but it’s fully possible that this film will take place some years in the future.

    • I agree on Ezekiel Stane trying to avenge his fathers death being connected to first Iron Man and yes he is old for the part but I like your idea. I thought about Ezekiel for a while but we need to see Mandarin this time

  26. I saw that picture on top of the main page and thought that Kingsley was going to play Ming the Merciless in a remake of Flash Gordon.

  27. It’s a setup for IM4. He’s not cast as Mandarin in IM3. So technically they’re not lying. Zeke is the badee this time around. SBK is then revealed to be Mandarin for IM4 in one of those post credit things. At least that would make sense to me.

  28. Andy Lau or Tony Leung for Mandarin or epic fail

  29. He is a Top-Class Actor who can go from a cartoon villian like in Thunderbirds – to a scary real on like in Sexy Beast ! Yes , sticking with the best actors for villians is so important – the superhero movie is nothing without the villian being played perfectly.

    Will Sam Rockwells Justin Hammer be making a return I wonder ?! He was brilliant in Iron Man 2 – very under-rated part I thought. Just watched it yesterday again & really enjoyed it – it’s a great film too.