In his movie career, Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man has faced off against terrorists, corrupt businessmen and, come this summer, an Asgardian deity and his accompanying maybe-aliens. But is any of that likely to prepare him for the ultimate foe just announced for next year's Iron Man 3 -- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi?!? No, wait, just the actor who portrayed him, Ben Kingsley.Ben Kingsley, who made his name playing the well-respected civil disobedience leader Ghandi in Richard Attenborough's Oscar-winning 1982 biographical movie of the same name, is in talks to sign onto the third Iron Man movie as its main villain, according to reports that surfaced yesterday. Those same reports suggested that Kingsley will assume the role of the Mandarin, the long-standing Iron Man villain whose existence has been long-hinted at in earlier movies, while also suggesting that the plot of the third movie -- The first to be directed by someone other than Jon Favreau, with Shane Black stepping into the folding chair -- may take its cue from Warren Ellis' 2005 comic book reimagining of the character, "Extremis." Variety has since reported that Kingsley won't be playing the Mandarin, so the question of his movie role remains.

Interestingly enough, this casting may suggest that the Iron Man series will last past the three movies many had considered would constitute its run; Kingsley's involvement in the movie is being played down somewhat with his character being described as "not the primary villain" (so probably not Mallen) of the movie, suggesting that there will be at least one more installment for the character to take center stage at some point -- Unless, of course, his character will go on to tangle with all of the Avengers in a future sequel to that movie at some point.

Marvel hasn't commented on the casting rumors as yet. Iron Man 3 is scheduled to start production later this year for a release in May 2013.

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