IRON MAN 3 Casts Guy Pearce & Jessica Chastain as Scientists

The third installment of Marvel Studios' popular Iron Man film franchise is prepping to begin production and two new additions to it's cast have now been revealed.

Iron Man 3 will be directed by Shane Black and based off of a script by Drew Pierce. Robert Downy Jr will once again reprise his role as billionaire industrialist Tony Stark (aka Iron Man); Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle are scheduled to return as Pepper Potts and Jim Rhoades (aka War Machine), respectively. It has also been reported, yet not confirmed, that Scarlett Johansson will be reprising her Avengers role as Black Widow.

Sir Ben Kingsley has been tapped to play the film's central villain. Though the studio has not revealed the name of the character, they have reportedly denied it will be The Mandarin; a megalomanic who secretly runs terrorist organizations around the world and wields ten weaponized rings of advanced alien power.

No official synopsis has been released but it is now known that the film's plot revolves around the spread of a virus through nanobots, loosely based on Warren Ellis' six-issue "Extremis" series that introduced a new origin story for Iron Man and focused heavily on nanotechnology.

Variety reports that Guy Pearce (Prometheus, Lockout) has been cast as geneticist Aldrich Killian, who co-created the Extremis technology that Iron Man adopts after Killian sells it to terrorists. Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life, The Help) has been cast as a "scientist every bit as smart as Tony Stark" according to Deadline. Iron Man 3 is scheduled for theatrical release on May 3, 2013.