Although there is a lot of uncertainly surrounding expectations for Iron Man 3, Marvel Studios and new helmsman Shane Black are certainly starting on the right foot with news surrounding recent and potential casting additions. First it was Oscar-winner Sir Ben Kingsley in talks to play an Iron Man 3 villain, then it was fan-fave Guy Pearce joining the cast as geneticist Aldrich Killian.

Soon, we may be adding Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain to the growing (and star-studded) Iron Man 3 ensemble as well.

Deadline has the latest casting scoop which points towards Chastain being offered the role of a “sexy” and “smart” scientist in a leading role, but she initially couldn’t do it due to scheduling issues. Diane Kruger, Gemma Arterton and Isla Fisher were reportedly lined up as potential replacements but thanks to a delay in one of her other projects, Chastain’s available for for filming on Iron Man 3, which begins next month in China.

Following previous casting announcements and the fact that Iron Man 3‘s principal photography takes place in China, it’s a no-brainer that Shane Black and Drew Pearce’s screenplay is following Warren Ellis’ “Extremis” storyline which has been the common theme shared in most Iron Man 3 related stories. That being the case, it stands to reason that if she signs, Chastain will be playing the role of Maya Hansen, the scientist behind the Extremis tech who allies and helps out Tony Stark, eventually joining S.H.I.E.L.D. (and she’s another love interest).

If made official, Marvel is nailing their casting and our hopes and expectations rise up even more as Iron Man 3 positions itself as a standalone, yet worthy follow-up to The Avengers.

[Update 1: Jessica Chastain cannot join Iron Man 3 due to scheduling conflicts]

[Update 2: Rebecca Hall (The Town) is now up for the role.]

While The Avengers benefits from bringing together a large group of stars for the epic team-up adventure, Iron Man 3 makes up for that by bringing in a spotlight-worthy cast of its own. Jessica Chastain, who enjoyed a career year in 2011 with The Debt, Take Shelter, The Help, The Tree of Life and The Texas Killing Fields,  joins Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce and returnees Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle.

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.

Source: Deadline

Extremis Issue #5 cover & Iron Man: Extremis Hardcover (Variant Cover) by Adi Granov.