Iron Man may be the Marvel Universe’s knight in shining armor, but now we’ll see how he deals with a real life knight. Variety (via Blastr) is reporting that Sir Ben Kingsley will be playing the villain in Shane Black’s ‘Iron Man 3’.

On Kingsley’s role, Variety says that the veteran actor would play “a role that revolves around the spread of a virus through nanobots.” It’s been said that ‘Iron Man 3′ is supposed to be based on Warren Ellis’ Extremis miniseries that introduced a new origin story for Iron Man and focused on nanotechnology, so the role seems to fit into that story, but something isn’t right.

While all that is well and good, that doesn’t sound like Iron Man’s long time nemesis, the Mandarin, who Jon Favreau was planning on finally introducing to the Marvel Cinematic Universe if he stayed on to direct ‘Iron Man 3’. Mandarin is one of the greatest minds in the world, a master of various martial arts, and wielder of ten extremely powerful rings that make him one of, if not the greatest threat to Iron Man considering Stark’s science has no answer to Mandarin’s magic. Favreau had been planting clues for a while hinting at an appearance of the Mandarin eventually, but it appears that new director Black’s vision has strayed from the original plan that has already been laid out, which is a total shame because Kingsley would have been the perfect fit to play the arch nemesis of Iron Man. I mean, just look at the thumbnail picture for this article! Kingsley can be evil when he needs to be.

Now that we know who Kingsley won’t be, I guess we’ll have to wait and see what character he will end up playing. Or maybe Black has reinvented the Mandarin’s origin to fit his vision of the film. After all, the inspiration for his movie, the Extremis storyline, reinvented Iron Man. Maybe his film version will reinvent his greatest foe.

What do you think about this addition of Ben Kingsley to the cast of ‘Iron Man 3’? And who do you think he’ll end up playing? Review Iron Man’s rogues gallery and share your speculation in the comments section.