<i>Iron Man 3</i> Villain Details, Surprise Photos Emerge From Movie Set

Filming has only just begun in North Carolina on Marvel's Iron Man 3, and already the production is leaking like a sieve, with rumors flying about the sequel's villains, even as the first spoiler-ish photo emerges from the set. If that's not enough of a tip-off, be assured that potentially major spoilers follow.

According to Latino Review and ComicBook.com, the word in Wilmington is that Ben Kingsley does indeed play the classic Iron Man foe The Mandarin -- that's despite director Shane Black's dismissal of the character as a racist caricature -- but he won't be the primary antagonist. Instead Guy Pearce's geneticist Aldrich Killian will be the primary villain, with The Mandarin serving as his "silent partner."

In the 2005-2006 "Iron Man: Extremis" storyline on which the movie is loosely based, Killian is the co-creator of a nanotechnological drug manufactured by the U.S. military in an attempt to replicate the Super-Soldier Serum. The serum triggers a mutation that grants the subject superhuman abilities.

With those villainous roles apparently sorted out, we're left with two minor criminals from Marvel comics: Lt. Col. Eric Savin (played by James Badge Dale), who becomes the cyborg Coldblood, and Firepower (Ashley Hamilton), the pilot of an experimental armored suit created by the government.

And that is where it gets really interesting, or "interesting," depending on your perspective: What Would Tyler Durden Do has set photos of someone in Iron Patriot armor (below; many more at the source). While the battlesuit was first donned in Dark Avengers #1 by Norman Osborn, the website contends in the film it will be worn by Eric Savin -- suggesting he starts out as Iron Patriot before taking a villainous turn as Coldblood. That speculation should be taken with a grain of salt, but the photos are impossible to deny.

Iron Man 3, which opens May 3, 2013, also stars returning franchise stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Jon Favreau as well as newcomer Rebecca Hall.

DC Returns to the Dark Multiverse for a New Death of Superman Story

More in Comics