The Hollywood Reporter is quoting sources close to the production that Ben Kingsley is in talks to join Iron Man 3.
These sources say that Kingsley is in talks to portray a villain, yet not the main villain. This hasn’t stopped the Hollywood Reporter from speculating that Kingsley would be playing Iron Man’s comic book nemesis, Mandarin.
If I read the article right, what the Hollywood Reporter is guessing that Kingsley’s character is playing a Machiavellian manipulator who hires the main villain of the piece, and that the manipulator is the Mandarin.
Or, well, whatever he will be called. As the article points out, the comic book Mandarin hails from China and reflects the Cold War era he was created in. However, what the article fails to point out is that Iron Man’s origin also took place in the Cold War era Viet Nam and was updated for the trendier, timelier, less friendly to U.S. films Afghanistan for the first film. The first film’s terrorists worked for and organization called The Ten Rings, which Marvel Zombies immediately picked up on as a potential Mandarin reference. And Kingsley is of Pakistani lineage, and Pakistan is right next to Afghanistan. So, connecting the dots, if Kingsley is playing the Mandarin, he’ll be playing him as a resident of the Middle East with a name change (Sultan, maybe?) in the offing.
The article also hints that the characters powers, which derive from ten rings he wears that allow him do do just about everything from freeze people to rearranging atoms in matter, will have to updated as well to avoid comparison with DC’s Green Lantern. If this is changed, that fact might have very little to do with it. It’s not like rings giving superpowers to humans is something exclusive to just Green Lantern or Mandarin as far as comic books are concerned. If it’s changed, it might have more to do with the realistic tone of the franchise as the concept is a little bit too fantastic for the world Tony Stark lives in (in his own films at least).
A more interesting tidbit of information is the throw away news that the script is still being written. Considering the film is set to open on May 3, 2013, that seems to be cutting it a bit close. We should keep an eye on this situation to see how it affects the final product.