The next big Marvel movie is Iron Man 3, and production on the threequel is moving at a rapid pace in order to make its scheduled May 2013 release date. In the last month alone, we've learned that Sir Ben Kingsley is playing a villain role (speculation is its The Mandarin); Guy Pearce is playing a scientist who unleashes something dangerous upon the world; Chinese star Andy Lau is playing a different scientist who aids Tony Stark; and Rebecca Hall (The Town) is being sought for a lead role as an old colleague/love interest of Tony Stark, who was involved in developing the tech that falls into the wrong hands.
Today we can say the Iron Man 3 cast - and villain roster - has been increased by one: Actor James Badge Dale (Rubicon, 24, The Pacific) has been cast as a character that even Iron Man comic fans might struggle to recognize.
Deadline reports that Dale is set to play "Savin" - a name which would assumedly refer to Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Savin - who became the cyborg known as "Coldblood-7" in the comics. Savin's comic book origin involves working as security for a U.S. Army tech project, until he discovers the project is a front for illegal activities. He is injured while investigating the situation and transformed into a cyborg controlled by a computer brain, with all memory of his former life wiped away. Eventually he got his memory back, and started living a mercenary life, having run-ins with several characters from the Marvel Universe.
Obviously, this somewhat obscure character is going to be updated and implemented into the storyline of Iron Man 3 a little differently - but the pieces are all there to make him fit. We know that the threequel will borrow elements of Warren Ellis' "Extremis" storyline (and later events that were spun directly out of that story), in which a pair of scientists (Pearce and Hall, presumably) create a dangerous nanotechnology virus that transforms people into organic cyborgs. When that virus eventually makes it into the hands of the Mandarin (who is head of a nefarious criminal organization), the virus is used as a terrorist weapon against the innocent masses.
The shadowy corporation, the terrorist plot, and the cyborg-creating tech-weapon all combine to suggest a scenario in which Savin is transformed into a kind of enforcer villain - a physical threat for Iron Man, while the Mandarin remains the intellectual antagonist for Tony Stark. Dale has proven in past performances - he was a standout in The Pacific - that he can bring depth and charisma to any role, even a minor one (see: Shame, The Grey, The Departed). With big upcoming films like World War Z and The Lone Ranger under his belt, Dale is also an actor whose star is quickly rising.
There is always a danger with a film like this to over-bloat the story with excess characters - Spider-Man 3, looking at you - but if there is one person we trust to balance it, it's surely director (and co-writer) Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang).
Iron Man 3 will be in theaters on May 3, 2013. Stay tuned for more casting announcements, rumors and production updates in the near future.