With the release date for "Iron Man 3" officially announced, it's no longer too early to wonder who the villain in Tony Stark's third cinematic outing might be. Well, maybe it's a little early — the film is three years away, after all — but what's the harm in getting the wheels spinning?
The Armored Avenger's rogues gallery is an impressive one, filled to the brim with compelling foes that could give Tony a real run for his money. While certain characters seem more obvious than others, there's really no shortage of bad guys that could wind up in "Iron Man 3."
After the jump, check out some of the villains we could see fighting their way into the third "Iron Man" movie!
The son of original "Iron Man" baddie Obadiah Stane, Zeke was the main antagonist at the heart of Matt Fraction's initial arc on "The Invincible Iron Man." Bringing the character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe would give a sense of closure to Tony's story, tying things back to the movie that started it all.
An enigmatic figure armed with sophisticated stealth technology and a sweet tooth for corporate sabotage, the Ghost is right at home in the "Iron Man" universe. Preserving Ghost's sense of anonymity is crucial to getting the character right, providing him with a dangerous edge that convincingly poses a threat to Tony's whole world.
Then again, "Iron Man 2" already proved the franchise's willingness to merge two characters into one, as seen in Whiplash. Perhaps Justin Hammer could return for another round against Tony Stark, except this time, he's doing the hunting himself with stylized stealth armor ala Ghost. It's a way to tie into the previous "Iron Man" films and, most importantly, a way to bring back the always awesome Sam Rockwell.
Naturally, the villain that most fans are expecting is the Mandarin. As Tony Stark's number one villain in comic book lore, Mandarin's inclusion in the "Iron Man" movies has been teased but not fully realized — something that Jon Favreau himself hopes to rectify for round three. If we're placing bets on the villain of "Iron Man 3," Mandarin has the best odds by miles.
Of course, the villain we all really want to see is MODOK. Already serving as Marvel's mascot of awkward villainy, there's probably no way to realistically fit MODOK into the MCU — but if anybody can pull off this out-of-the-box character, it's Favreau and his team!
Tell us who you would like to see as the "Iron Man 3" bad guy in the comment section and on Twitter!