For the moviegoers who have seen "Iron Man 2," Tony Stark's latest battle against Whiplash and Justin Hammer is at an end. That means the Armored Avenger must look ahead towards the next fight, and luckily for us, we already have an idea of who he's going to square up against in a potential third installment — The Mandarin.
Speaking with MTV News, "Iron Man" director Jon Favreau revealed that "you have to do The Mandarin" for a third film, though he acknowledged some difficulties with the character: "He also has 10 magical rings, and it just doesn't feel right for our thing, so it's either tech-based or the rings are not really rings ... but maybe with 'Thor' and all those others you'll introduce magic to that world and it won't seem so out of place."
I certainly don't think The Mandarin is out of place when gods and super soldiers are running about in Tony's neck of the woods. Assuming that Favreau can find a way to make the ring-clad villain work in his cinematic universe, here are a few actors that could pull off the role!
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa: Having already starred as Shang Tsung in the admittedly unbalanced "Mortal Kombat," Tagawa is no stranger to playing mystical villains. The actor happens to have one of the most menacing scowls I've ever seen on film, a look that moviegoers would happily see wiped off his face by a well-placed repulsor blast.
Chow Yun-Fat: Between disgraced mobsters and proud ancient warriors, Chow Yun Fat has had an incredibly diverse career. Isn't it about time he added super-villain to his resume? We know he can go sinister thanks to his brief "Pirates of the Caribbean" role and he's a proven expert on the physical side of things. It also doesn't hurt that he has plenty of name recognition to go up on the marquee with Robert Downey Jr.
Faran Tahir: Although it would mark a departure from Mandarin's oriental origins, I have to admit I'm intrigued by "Iron Man" bad guy Faran Tahir's theory of his own character: "Is he the conduit to Mandarin?" Tahir asked last year of Raza's fate. "Does he become Mandarin?" It would be an interesting callback to the first "Iron Man," bringing Favreau's trilogy of superhero movies full circle. I'm not fully sold on the idea, but it's definitely thought provoking.
Hiroyuki Sanada: As Dogen on "Lost," Sanada has demonstrated his talents as a martial artist and as a mysterious mystic. The Japanese actor is also known at the domestic box office for his roles in "The Last Samurai" and "Sunshine," playing less-than-villainous characters, but strong men of will and conviction nonetheless — characteristics that The Mandarin certainly possesses, even if he isn't the most moral of men.
Ken Watanabe: Has Ken Watanabe already come too close to Mandarin in his portrayal of Ra's al Ghul in "Batman Begins?" Given the fact that he wasn't really Ra's, I'll go ahead and say no. Besides, if Ryan Reynolds can play two comic book characters, why can't Watanabe? He's a brilliant actor who can flip the switch from gentle ruler to terrible tyrant with ease. More than anyone on this list, he's the one I'd like to see go against Robert Downey Jr. in "Iron Man 3."
Tell us who you would cast as The Mandarin in "Iron Man 3" in the comments section and on Twitter!