'Iron Man 3' Hires Ben Kingsley As Villain

Jeff Bridges. Mickey Rourke. Sam Rockwell. What do these men have in common? Beyond their ability to grow awesome facial hair (though Rockwell was sadly sparse in this category as Justin Hammer), they've all gone toe to toe with Tony Stark's armor-wearing alter-ego. And now, add another awesome bearded adversary to the list: Ben Kingsley.

Variety reports that the Oscar winning actor is in final talks to play the villain in "Iron Man 3," director Shane Black's first entry into the Marvel Universe with returning leading man Robert Downey Jr. in tow.

As for who the actor will play, that's still very much up in the air. What is clear, apparently, is that Kingsley is not playing the Mandarin. Despite the fact that the character stands out as Tony Stark's number one nemesis in the comic books, not to mention numerous teasers about the Ten Rings organization throughout previous "Iron Man" movies, Variety cites insiders as saying that Mandarin won't be the big bad this go around.

Variety believes it's more likely that Kingsley's character will come from Warren Ellis' six-issue "Iron Man: Extremis" arc. That's supposedly the foundation of the third "Iron Man" movie, and if that's the case, one of the likelier (if not flashier) candidates is Aldrich Killian, who co-created the Extremis technology that Iron Man eventually adopts, but only after Killian sells the tech to terrorists.

Unconfirmed for now, so stay tuned for further announcements about who Kingsley's mysterious villain really is. For now, what do you think of the casting? Let us know in the comments section or hit us up on Twitter with your theories!