True Villain Of ‘Iron Man’ Revealed?

Forget Mandarin — the Chinese supervillain and holder of the “ten rings” who is widely expected to be Iron Man’s nemesis in the superhero’s upcoming film debut — Iron Man is going to fight Iron Monger. Well…that’s my theory anyway, and you should know right off the bat that it’s at odds with what Marvel officially announced at last year’s Comic-Con.

But it seems to fit. Here’s why:

– Terrence Howard told MTV some months ago that the scene he was most excited about showing the world was “Iron Man [battling] Collossus, the original suit that he made.” The official villain, Mandarin, never wears Tony Stark’s armor in the comics, though. In fact, the whole point of the character — as I understand him — is that he’s one of the few people capable of defeating Iron Man without mechanical enhancements.

– Despite the fact that the film is currently shooting, no Mandarin casting has been announced.

– There is a villain who builds an enhanced version of Tony Stark’s original armor, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), a one-time mentor who coincidentally happens to be in the movie. In the comics, he becomes Iron Monger.

– Stane’s use of the Iron Monger armor leads Tony Stark to two things, alcoholism and the abandonment of his superhero identity. Director Jon Favreau has said the alcoholic storyline will play out in the second film. Howard told MTV that his character Jim Rhodes will build a suit of his own in the sequel, otherwise known as War Machine. “Yes, War Machine will be in the second one,” he revealed. In the comics, Rhodes builds the armor after wearing the Iron Man suit for awhile…which happens only after Stark abandons it.

– When asked if he would become Iron Monger this past weekend Jeff Bridges looked surprised, saying to MTV, “Uh, I might, I might,” before catching himself and adding “but, on the other hand, I probably don’t.” We’ll give him credit for the quick reversal, but it’s his initial answer that gives us pause.

– Then there’s this unidentified, unauthorized, unsourced photo making the Internet rounds, presumably taken on the “Iron Man” set.

Look familiar? It should. Because this is Iron Monger.

Is Marvel pulling a fast one on us, making us believe Mandarin is the villain when it’s actually Iron Monger? Sound off below.