Iron Man 3 director Shane Black just confirmed it at Comic-Con: The villain is the Mandarin!
The Marvel panel has been underway in Hall H at the San Diego Convention Center, and following an intro from Robert Downey Jr. in which he danced his way through the aisles all the way up to the stage, the lights went down and the first footage from Iron Man 3 was screened.
The first half of the sizzle reel showed Tony Stark testing out his new suit, which clearly looks like it's got the Extremis technology working, since he summons it simply by pointing his hands at it. It doesn't go quite as planned, although he eventually gets the armor on. There's also some clowning around with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau, just acting this time around), who complains about Stark going off to spend time with the "Super Friends" (nice nod there). But then it all goes south from there ...
As a strange, ominous voice says, "Some call me a terrorist, but I consider myself a teacher ... lesson number one: there are no heroes," we see a full-scale aerial assault on Stark's Malibu mountaintop mansion, which literally crumbles and slides into the ocean. Then we see each Iron Man suit explode, one by one, as Stark, wearing the last one, plunges into the ocean as debris falls around him. "As you cry for mercy ... you will be silenced."
Finally, there is a glimpse of two hands wearing, you guessed it, 10 rings, and we get one last shot of Sir Ben Kingsley in flowing robes and hair, seated on his throne. And if there was any lingering doubt about who he was, Black says on the panel a few minutes later, "Ben Kingsley is going to be great ... as the Mandarin."
A few questions later on the panel—which also includes Marvel president Kevin Feige, former director (and still cast member) Jon Favreau and fellow star Don Cheadle—Downey is asked whether he will continue playing Iron Man once his current contract runs out with Iron Man 3.
"Don and I are both done with our deals after Iron Man 3, so we're going to discuss what Brink's truck we want to keep going," Downey says. "If I'm super happy ... all I know is this has been an incredible journey."
The journey will continue next May 3, when Iron Man 3—complete with the long-awaited debut of the Mandarin—hits screens everywhere.