While we all sit around counting down the minutes until The Avengers is officially released, Iron Man 3 is already gearing up for production to begin shooting in May.  Avengers star Robert Downey, Jr. will be returning as Iron Man, along with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Don Cheadle as Lt. Col. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes.  One question then remains—who is the villain, and who will play him/her/it/them?

/Film has it today that while the villain’s identity is still unclear, we now have a sure bet as to who will play him—Ben Kingsley.  Kingsley is currently in “final talks” to play the film’s villain.  Currently, Marvel is declining to comment on the deal, and “insiders” are denying that Kingsley is signing up to The Mandarin, Iron Man’s comic book arch-nemesis known for wearing super-powerful rings on his fingers (let’s face it—cool villains are not exactly Iron Man’s strong suit).

/Film also notes that Iron Man 3 will loosely figure around the Warren Ellis six-issue Extremis storyline from the Iron Man books, in which nanotechnology is introduced to Tony Stark’s technology.  Casting Kingsley in Iron Man 3 certainly is an interesting move on the part of Marvel—the man can be a fine actor (when he’s not starring in trash, as he has a habit of doing).  That said, the Iron Man films have begun to develop the habit of hiring stellar actors to play sub-par, disappointing villains (say hi, Jeff Bridges and Mickey Rourke), so here’s hoping Kingsley has some better luck.

What do you think of the Iron Man 3 news?