Will Iron Man finally be facing off with the Joker to his proverbial Batman? Possibly...sort of.
The recent casting of Ben Kingsley fueled speculation that he would be playing Iron Man's signature villain in Mandarin. However, the character seems to have thrown a curveball to the Iron Man 3 creative team, notably to director, Shane Black, who has gone on record to call the Chinese warlord who wields ten powerful rings a "racist character."
It seemed to leave the character in an ambiguous funk. However, when the casting of actor, Andy Lau hit, a critical clue may have been given to fans about where Kingsely's character fits in the puzzle.
Andy Lau will reportedly play an "old friend of Tony Stark's that represents the Chinese technology sector." This plays into the idea that the film is adapting the "Extremis" comic book storyline in which Tony Stark becomes infused with a serum rooted in nanotechnology which allows him to telepathically communicate with his armor, creating a new kind of biological/technological bond.
However, there is a group of bad guys that want to get hold of it, which would allegedly be represented not by the single villain called "Mandarin," but rather, by a terrorist group called "The Mandarin" (with Ben Kingsley's character as their leader,) who want to use the stuff against both the US and China. (Which, I guess lessens whatever perceived racist undertones the Mandarin character brought.)
Lau's character will apparently try to use China's technological resources to create "armored heroes" to help Iron Man defeat this Mandarin organization.
This could also parallel an arch in the comic storyline in which Mandarin tries to use Extremis technology as a virus to reshape the human race. It all essentially plays into the characterization that has been used as of late, calling Iron Man 3 as a "technological thriller."
Will that tech be connected to his 10 rings? Since The Avengers introduced aliens, would we get an extraterrestrial explanation like in the comics? Will he even have his rings at all?
Iron Man 3, nanites and all, is slated to hit theaters on May 3, 2013.