Kinglsey is on the cusp of finalizing a deal with Marvel and Disney, according to a scoop at Variety. Assuming Kingsley's deal comes together, he'll be the third-consecutive Oscar-nominated actor to face off against Robert Downey Jr. as Stark, who previously battled bad guys played by Jeff Bridges and Mickey Rourke.
Kinglsey, of course, won his Academy Award in 1983 for his work in Gandhi, though he was subsequently nominated for Bugsy, Sexy Beast, and The House of Sand and Fog. Last year he played a supporting role in Martin Scorsese's Hugo, and he's playing Mazer Rackham alongside Hugo star Asa Butterfield in the currently-filming Ender's Game.
Coincidentally, Sam Raimi was previously interested in having Kinglsey play another Marvel villain. The actor was initially approached to play the Vulture in Spider-Man 3. The character was pushed out of that film in favor of Venom, but when Raimi was developing Spider-Man 4, Kinglsey was brought back. Then Sony abandoned the sequel in favor of this summer's reboot The Amazing Spider-Man.
But who will he play in Iron Man 3? Both Iron Man and the first sequel included little Easter eggs hinting at the Ten Rings, the organization headed by Iron Man's biggest comic book nemesis, the Mandarin. Jon Favreau, who directed those films, previously said that they were building towards the Mandarin's introduction in Iron Man 3. But Favreau left the franchise, and apparently the notion of using Mandarin went with him. Marvel hasn't commented, but the Variety story cites anonymous insiders who say Kinglsey definitely isn't playing the Mandarin.
A month ago, a rumor began circulating that Iron Man 3's story will be centered around nanotechnology, and this casting story supports that, saying that Kingsley's character will be involved with the spread of a virus through nanobots. Additionally, it asserts that the sequel is loosely based on the six-issue "Extremis" comic book arc written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Adi Granov. The rebooted Iron Man origin introduced in that story heavily influenced Iron Man's story, as did the designs of Granov, who actually worked on the film. Ellis's story finds a nanbot version of the Super Soldier serum greatly increasing Stark's power and changing his relationship to his tech.
With Favreau having moved on to Disney's Magic Kingdom, the next installment of Iron Man is directed by Shane Black, who previously worked with Downey Jr. on his directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Black's a ridiculously smart and funny writer, as evidenced by screenplays like Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout. For Iron Man 3, he collaborated with Drew Pearce on the screenplay.
Kingsley will join Robert Downey Jr. and the other familiar faces of the franchise, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, and Scarlett Johansson.
Iron Man 3 hits theaters on May 3, 2013.