Ben Kingsley is in negotiations to play a villain in Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3.
Kingsley, however, will not be the primary villain, according to insiders, and it is not clear what role he will play.
A classic Iron Man villain, the Mandarin, was hinted as being an on-the-outskirts bad guy in the first Iron Man movie, and director Jon Favreau more than suggested that he wanted the character to get his moment in the sun. Favreau is not directing the new movie but will be exec producing, so audiences will have to wait and see how far his influence goes.
Insiders say there is a chance Kingsley will play the Mandarin, but because the script is still being written, the character might be reconfigured for silver-screen presentation. The Mandarin’s classic traits might be merged with a nanotechnological virus seen in a storyline titled "Extremis," sources have said.
The update will be necessary. The Mandarin, a Chinese ruler who worked with the communists, was introduced in 1963 -- a different era from today when China is one of the world's most important film markets.
Additionally, his power initially came from 10 alien rings. Since DC hero Green Lantern also had his power from an alien ring, Marvel will no doubt want to distance itself from any similarity.
Shane Black is directing the third installment of the popular Marvel Studios franchise, which will see Robert Downey Jr. reprise his role of wealthy industrialist-turned-Armored Avenger Tony Stark.
Kingsley, most recently seen in Hugo, next appears in The Dictator opposite Sacha Baron Cohen.
Marvel had no comment.