Rumor: Andy Lau, Jessica Chastain join Iron Man 3 cast

Following hot on the heels of yesterday’s news that Guy Pearce is in talks to play geneticist Aldrich Killian in Iron Man 3, comes a tandem of rumors placing both Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs, The House of Flying Daggers) and Jessica Chastain (The Help, The Tree of Life) in the film.

According to Sinophile style blog Neon Punch, Lau is “close to signing” on for a role in Iron Man 3. Initially the site speculated that Lau would be playing classic Iron Man foe The Mandarin, though given Lau’s massive stardom in his native China and the fact that Iron Man 3 is being partially funded by Chinese backers, it seems unlikely that Marvel would be allowed to turn such a beloved actor into a decidedly Chinese icon of malevolence. Artistic vision be damned, the Chinese don’t like their hometown boys to look like jerks.

Along these lines, a later update to the Neon Punch piece claims that Lau will be playing “an old friend of Tony Stark’s that represents China’s technology sector.” Furthermore, it claims that The Mandarin is indeed in the film, but that Lau’s character gathers “China’s armored heroes to help Iron Man” defeat this iteration of the borderline racially inflammatory villain, who is described as “a terrorist against both the US and China.”

As for Chastain, Deadline claims that she is “back in the mix to play a starring role” in the film. Specifically, the role of an as-yet-unnamed “sexy scientist [who is] every bit as smart as Tony Stark.” Those of you familiar with super intelligent characterization tropes and/or the logic that drives every single sitcom of the past three decades will likely recognize this as a perfect set up for Stark to fall for Chastain’s character, after a protracted period of the two butting heads, arguing and attempting to one-up one another in a convenient if unlikely series of mental exercises. Perhaps there will be a particularly difficult math problem that Stark can’t solve, and then when Chastain’s scientist handily proves her cerebral abilities, Tony will realize that maybe he isn’t the pinnacle of human intelligence. Thus humbled, the two will kiss, look deeply into each other’s eyes and I’m sure you know the rest.

How exactly that will tie in with the Extremis storyline, the likely inclusion of The Mandarin and whatever Ben Kingsley might be doing in the film remains to be seen, though this immense amount of plot elements does raise worrying flags that Iron Man 3 might be reminiscent of the disappointing Spider-Man 3. That film, though initially exciting to fans for its inclusion of iconic Spider-Man foe Venom, simply attempted to cram too much plot into its 139-minute run time, and the result was a film that seemed disjointed and schizophrenic. Hopefully Marvel will recall the lessons of the 2007 Tobey Maguire/James Franco/Topher Grace vehicle, though we likely won’t know anything for sure until Iron Man 3 hits theaters on May 3, 2013.

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