"Avengers-Assemble" is only now being knocked off the top of the weekly cinema charts. But the third Iron Man movie is already going before the lens in the Carolinas before moving to film in China. We know that some elements of the story have their source in the Warren Ellis / Adi Granov story 'Extremis' though it appears that there could be several diverse elements from the long comics-history of Tony Stark and his alter ego.
As things stand Scarlett Johansson will NOT be returning as the Black Widow, though rumours persist of a possible small cameo from Mark Ruffalo as Banner and/or the Hulk. The firmer casting includes the return of Rober Downey Jnr. (of course), Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Don Cheadle reprising James 'War Machine' Rhodes. Sir Ben Kinsgley is appearing in a role that was once thought to be that of the villanous Mandarin, but may be another nemesis. Guy Pearce plays Aldrich Killian, the creator of the particular nanotechnology which informed the Extremis project.
After front-runner Jessica Chastain had to step away, citing schedule conflicts, Rebecca Hall came in to play a genius scientist and old friend of Stark's. This looks to be based on the character of Maya Hansen, also from the Extremis saga. James Badge Dale (Rubicon, The Lone Ranger, The Grey) plays the character of Savin, who - in the comics - was a injured soldier brought back from the edge of death and became the villainous Coldblood. This week also saw the annoucement of Ashley Hamilton. a good friend of Downey Jnr's is set to play Firepower, looking to be one of Stark's major 'physical' adversaries. William Sadler (Bill & Ted, Hawaii Five-0) has also been spotted on set, but it is not known what role he will be playing.
Interestingly, Jon Favreau, director of the previous two chapters WILL be returning for the third - but not as director (those duties go to Shane Black). Favreau is reprising his supporting role of 'Happy' Hogan.
There are strong rumours of several eastern actors such as Andy Lau also involved in the project, but though this looks likely (espeically given the Chinese section of filming) nothing has been *officially* announced. What we do know is that Stark and his alter-ego also look to be facing an iron army of opposition at some point in the story.
We're only slightly worried that the film has almost TOO many high-profile names - perhaps echoing criticisms that the second Iron Man film was jam-packed to the detriment of the story. But we're sure we'll be hearing more as filming progresses...and have our fingers crossed.