First up is the addition of another new bad guy with whom almost no one outside of big Marvel Comics fans is familiar. That would be a character called Firepower, who Variety reports Ashley Hamilton is in talks to portray. If Hamilton's not familiar to you, that's okay. The son of George Hamilton, he's a singer-songwriter who appeared on Dancing With the Stars before becoming a correspondent for Extra. Apparently he's a longtime friend of Downey Jr.
There are a few different iterations of Firepower in the Marvel Universe, most notably a dude wearing a huge Iron Monger-style suit from the Armor Wars story arc. The casting story clarifies that this is a small part and specifies that, in the film, Firepower is a "government cyborg."
Sounds very much like Lieutenant Colonel Eric Savin, the guy who steps on a landmine and gets turned into obscure mercenary cyborg Coldblood. Just last week we learned that James Badge Dale would be playing that supporting character in the sequel. The two characters seem too similar not be closely related. We've known for a while that "Extremis," a six-issue storyline written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Adi Granov, will be the primary influence on Iron Man 3's storyline, and it seems fairly likely that these two characters might be made cyborg-like through infection with the viral nanotechnology at the story's center.
Moving on to some happy news. Jon Favreau, who directed the first two Iron Man films and did plenty of legwork for The Avengers in the process, also appeared in both of those films as Tony Stark's driver Happy Hogan. It was a supporting part that always brought some levity without being a big role. When it was revealed that Favreau would not direct the second sequel, many folks naturally assumed Hogan also wouldn't be returning. Favreau made public comments saying he'd like to show up again, but that seemed like him being a nice guy, not necessarily something that would actually happen.
Turns out Favreau is indeed playing Happy Hogan again, as the director, writer, and actor tweeted this photo from the set (via his @Jon_Favreau handle) with the simple caption, "BTW."
Favreau is serving as executive producer on Iron Man 3, with Lethal Weapon screenwriter and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director Shane Black taking over directorial duties. Black co-wrote the new script with Drew Pearce, the British scrivener behind the superpower-series No Heroics and the Runaways adaptation that Marvel had ready to shoot last year before kiboshing it in order to focus on The Avengers.
Good to know that Favreau will once again be onscreen alongside Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Those returning actors are set to be joined by James Badge Dale as the aforementioned Coldblood, Ben Kingsley as a mysterious villain, Rebecca Hall as a "sexy scientist" with ties to Stark, and Guy Pearce as Dr. Alrdich Killen.
Iron Man 3 is scheduled to hit theaters on May 3, 2013.