IRON MAN 3 Casts Ashley Hamilton as Armored Villain Firepower

The third installment of Marvel Studios' popular Iron Man film franchise is prepping to begin production this summer with Robert Downey Jr. reprising his role as the title character. The film is scheduled for theatrical release on May 3, 2013.

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. Scarlett Johansson will be reprising her Avengers role as Black Widow. 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.

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) even though several news outlets say otherwise. 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. James Badge Dale (Shame, World War Z) will play a villain known as Savin.

The latest addition to the cast is Ashley Hamilton who will play a small role as a villain called Firepower, the pilot of an experimental armored suit under the secret mission for the government who clashes with Iron Man. Hamilton, the son of actor George Hamilton and a personal friend of Robert Downey Jr., was recently seen on the ninth season of Dancing With the Stars.

Aside from principal photography taking place in North Carolina, a bulk of filming will go on in various area of China. Iron Man 3 is scheduled for theatrical release on May 3, 2013.