I’m playing catch-up since this news farted out late yesterday, but this is pretty cut and dry, if intriguing news: Ben Kingsley has been cast as a villain in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, but he will not be playing familiar comic baddie The Mandarin.

The news comes from a Variety blast that also confirms the Iron Man comic arc Extremis will heavily influence this film (as it apparently did the first), and that Kingsley’s villain will have something to do with nanotechnology that will be a big part of the story.

Now obviously Kingsley’s project choices have always had… a high dynamic range… so his presence in a project is no indicator of inherent quality. That said, he’s a consistent badass when exploited by directors that challenge or engage him, as last we saw in Hugo (where on second go ’round I really did find Meliés arc rather touching). Without much more to go on in terms of the scale of his villainy, and how (if at all) he’ll bounce off The Mandarin, it’s tough to contextualize this. I do expect Kingsley and RDJ to have some nice crackerjack scenes iffin’ they get to personally square off much.

Ultimately I’m looking forward to this film because of Shane Black, and until there’s a reason not to I’ll be giving his decisions the benefit of the doubt. We’ve still go lots to find out about the post Avengers world for Marvel flicks, the tone of which I assume will be largely set by this, the Studio’s flagship hero franchise.

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