He's ripped Ray Winstone to shreds in Sexy Beast, he's tried to steal time itself in Prince of Persia and he's run a crooked asylum on Shutter Island—but now Knight of the Realm, Gandhi himself Ben *That's Sir Ben you scum* Kingsley will be squaring off against Iron Man in the upcoming Iron Man 3!
It was revealed today that Kingsley is in final negotiations for the role of 'primary antagonist' in the latest installment of the Tony Stark saga. While it's been denied he's up for the part of the much debated Mandarin one can't deny his resemblance in the below:
Stone me but, it's a bit spooky, no? Let the speculating begin. After Jon Favreau spoke very publicaly about looking forward to including the Mandarin in a possible third part to his Iron Man franchise, for a while it seemed likely that we would meet this guy in the near future. Here's what Favreau had to say back in 2010 (regarding a new villain) :
You've got to do the Mandarin, the problem with the Mandarin is that the way it's depicted in the comic books, you don't want to see that.
He has 10 magical rings — that just doesn't feel right for us. So it's either tech-based, or the rings are not really rings. But maybe with Thor and all those others, you'll introduce magic to that world and it won't seem so out of place.
This explains Favreau name dropping certain Mandarin paraphernalia (the 10 Rings Terrorists) in the first movie, but it doesn't tell us who Kingsley will be playing. Why is that? Why couldn't Kingsley play the Mandarin in Shane Black's Iron Man?
Well since Favreau left the movie and Shane Black took over, Favreau's master plan has been sidelined in favor of a fresh script from Black. Indeed, Black even went as far as calling the Mandarin
A Chinese industrialist with magical powers, a racist caricature.
So that uh, that sounds pretty definite then, Shane, right? If they're trying to hide the details, directors don't normally pull the race card. I mean, if Black was lying when he made that statement, what will he say when people ask him why he cast Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin? 'I don't really care that much about racism?' Of couse not, so I think we can safely say that Kingsley is not 'The Baddie from the East'.
Well, according to the studio, Kingsley could be playing someone called Mallen. They've already said that Kingsley 'would play a role that revolves around the spread of a virus through nanobots.' This suggests he'll play Mallen, who is the primary recipient of the Extremis nanobot virus in the film. Mallen, who is a bit of a pawn in a series of events much bigger than himself, becomes the primary antagonist for Stark in the Extremis storyline, when a local militia steals the nanobots from a lab and injects a random willing participant. Hmm…Mallen was portrayed as a fair bit younger in the comics, though. Could be tricky with the aged yet spry Ben Kingsley.
If you're confused as to why Kingsley might have benn cast, then maybe you should check out this video. If Michael Bay didn't hear him, maybe Shane Black did!
So what say you to this development? Casting blunder or casting wonder? Let us know who you think Kingsley will play in the comments!