Ben Kinglsey may become the third Oscar-nominated actor to get defeated by Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man on the big screen. Variety reports exclusively that Sir Ben is in talks to play the villain in "Iron Man 3," which Marvel will release May 3, 2013.
Kingsley, who appears in next month's "The Dictator," follows Jeff Bridges and Mickey Rourke as "Iron Man" franchise villains. He would reportedly play an evildoer hellbent on spreading a virus around the globe, via nanobots. If your eyes just crossed at that term, note that nanobots are minuscule robots that clock in around one nanometer in size.
Marvel fans might be disappointed at this bit of casting news, not because of Kingsley's talents, but because of who he isn't playing. As Variety notes, the "Iron Man 3" villain isn't Mandarin, one of Iron Man's longest running adversaries. "Iron Man" director Jon Favreau had previously wanted to include Mandarin in both the first film and "Iron Man 2."
"Mandarin was in drafts right up until the [first] movie got green lit," Favreau told MTV last summer. "It was in the first film and then Mandarin, who's a famous villain, we had references to in the second film."
Mandarin, as an Asian warlord and arms dealer, was ranked as the 81st best comic book villain of all-time by IGN in 2009.
Kingsley most recently co-starred in "Hugo" and will feature in "Ender's Game" as well. The release date for that film, which co-stars "Hugo's" Asa Butterfield as well, was recently moved to Nov. 1, 2013.
"Iron Man 3" is scheduled to shoot later this year. Shane Black ("Kiss Kiss Bang Bang") will direct.
For more on Mandarin and which "Iron Man" series Kingsley's villain is loosely based on, head over to Variety.
PHOTOS Of "The Avengers":