UPDATE: Andy Lau, star of "Infernal Affairs" and "House of Flying Daggers," won't be battling evil alongside Robert Downey Jr. in "Iron Man 3" after all, according to JoBlo.
Back in April, it was reported that the Chinese action star would be joining the production, but he's since dropped out to spend more time with his young daughter. Director Shane Black is now looking for "a male actor over the age of 40 with strong English skills," with Chen Daoming ("Hero") and Wu Xiubo ("Before the Dawn") apparently being the top contenders for the role.
Somewhat ironically, Lau would've been playing a friendly scientist whose daughter is kidnapped and who later assists Tony Stark in his fight against ... whoever ends up being the villain in "Iron Man 3" (it's probably the Mandarin, but nothing's been officially confirmed). The rest of the cast includes Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, James Badge Dale, William Sadler, Ashley Hamilton, Don Cheadle and Gwenyth Paltrow.
Production on "Iron Man 3" is already underway with a look toward a release date of May 3, 2013.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
"Iron Man 3" is set to begin filming in just a few short weeks and Marvel's mad scramble to get everything in place continues, as Neon Punch is reporting that Chinese superstar Andy Lau is in final negotiations to join the cast.
But just who he'll be playing in the film is a bit of a touchy subject.
Here's what we know about "Iron Man 3" so far: Filming on location in China and partially financed by Chinese entertainment company DMG, the third installment will feature Robert Downey Jr.'s metal-clad super genius facing off against a terrorist (Ben Kingsley) who harnesses new nanotechnology to create a virus that turns people into robotic killing machines. Guy Pearce and Jessica Chastain will also be joining the action.
The fact that the action is taking place in China has many folks speculating that Lau — who is best known to western audiences as the star of "House of Flying Daggers" and "Infernal Affairs" — will be playing classic Iron Man villain The Mandarin. However, according to the report, he'll actually be playing a friendly Chinese scientist who teams up with Iron Man to save the world, possibly using China's own version of the Iron Man suit.
That makes some sense considering many fans consider The Mandarin to be a potentially offensive racial stereotype; given the importance of the Chinese box office to overseas success and the fact that Marvel is actively seeking Chinese backing for the film, the last thing they would want to do is tick off China.
Superhero, billionaire playboy philanthropist and now international ambassador of goodwill. Is there anything Tony Stark can't do?
Originally published on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 10:25 a.m. ET.