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If Ben Kingsley Agrees to Terrorize Tony Stark in 'Iron Man 3,' Which Villain Might He Play?

Boy, have we become a “What’s next?” culture of moviegoers. The Avengers isn’t even in theaters yet and we’re already looking ahead to standalone sequels for the blockbuster’s co-stars. 
        
Marvel Studios recently confirmed that Chris Evans will return to Captain America for a star-spangled sequel, already scheduled for April 4, 2014. And on the heels of that news, Shane Black’s previously announced Iron Man 3 – which begins production in North Carolina soon – revealed that Sir Ben Kingsley was in negotiations to play one of Robert Downey Jr.’s adversaries in the anticipated sequel. 
 
The idea of Kingsley playing a “Big Bad” in the Marvel universe sent geek tongues wagging. Most important, fans immediately wanted to know which villain from the Iron Man canon the Oscar-winning thespian would play. 
 
Right off the bat, Variety quoted insiders close to the production as saying Kingsley would not be playing The Mandarin, Iron Man’s most popular comic-book foe who has been rumored to be part of an Iron Man movie since Jon Favreau launched the franchise back in 2008.  
     
Instead, the trade tipped its hand by stating that Iron Man 3, penned by Drew Pearce, will take its narrative cues from the six-part, 2005 Iron Man mini-series titled  “Extremis,” which redefined the hero’s origins and also involved the spread of a deadly virus using a nanotechnology serum similar to the Super-Soldier Serum that gives Captain America his powers. Elements of the “Extremis” storyline were incorporated into Favreau’s first Iron Man film. 
 
If that’s the case, and director Black uses “Extremis” as his guideline for Iron Man 3, then Kingsley likely would play one of the men who create the super-villain Mallen. At the start of the story, Mallen, a terrorist, is injected with the Extremis virus, which grants him extreme powers and regenerative strengths. But he’s portrayed as a younger character (pictured to the right), and one who must fight Downey Jr.’s Iron Man on a number of occasions. I can’t see Kingsley, 68, playing the spry villain in an Iron Man sequel, but I can see him as the mastermind manipulating Mallen to create a new breed of criminal. 
 
Just not The Mandarin. 
 
So much of Iron Man 3 – as well as Captain America 2 and Thor 2 – will depend on how The Avengers plays out. I’m assuming that threads created in Joss Whedon’s adventure will set the stage for narrative explorations in the upcoming sequels. But with Iron Man 3 up first (it’s due in theaters on May 3, 2013), expect more cast members to join Kingsley, Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Scarlett Johansson, who recently was linked to this project and plans to return as Black Widow once Tony Stark steps back into his suit of armor. 
 
As you wait, here’s a great trailer for the motion comic Marvel created based on “Extremis.” It does a good job of summarizing Iron Man’s origin, then sprints through the key points of the “Extremis” story line. Check it out below:
 
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Next Article by Derrick Deane

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