"Iron Man 3" began filming in North Carolina at the end of May, and Disney has officially announced principal photography on the threequel with an "Iron Man 3" photo.

The still shows Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.) standing before various stages of Iron Man Mark armor -- from Mark I to Mark VII, which was showcased in "Marvel's The Avengers."

While this the first official still from the "Iron Man 3" set, many photos have leaked onto the Internet over the last two weeks. Jon Favreau posted a picture of his set chair to Twitter, alerting many to the fact that he was returning to play Happy Hogan in the third film -- this despite ceding directorial duties to Shane Black. (Favreau had mentioned that in an interview with Wired last year, so it wasn't the biggest surprise.)

There were also numerous spy photos of newly cast James Badge Dale dressed as Iron Patriot, a nemesis to Iron Man who has a lengthy mythology that involves "Spider-Man" villain Harry Osborn. (Because "Spider-Man" is still a Sony property, the Iron Patriot suit won't be filled by Osborn; head over to ComingSoon.net for a lengthy explanation of this confusing bit of superhero minutia.)

UPDATE: As it turns out, those pictures weren't of James Badge Dale in his Iron Patriot costume, but a stunt man dress as War Machine -- a.k.a Don Cheadle's character in "Iron Man 3." For more on this confusion, head over to Latino Review. The original article continues below.

Starring Downey, Dale, Favreau, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce and Gwyneth Paltrow, "Iron Man 3" is due out in theaters on May 3, 2013.

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