When I learned Guy Pearce was cast as Aldrich Killian for the third installment of the Iron Man series, I had to ask myself, "Who the hell is Aldrich Killian?" I had no recollection of him.
As it turns out, Aldrich Killian is a scientist that develops the Extremis Enhancile with Maya Hansen, who, presumably, will be played by Jessica Chastain. Similar to the Super-Soldier Serum that transformed feeble Steve Rogers into Captain America, the extremis virus reprograms a brain and body with bioelectronics. The results are faster and stronger than Iron Man's suit.
There's a chance we might see Aldrich, enhanced by extremis, go toe-to-toe with Iron Man rather than Mallen, but it's doubtful. A part of me, the part that watches the Count of Monte Cristo and Memento whenever they're on TV, is rooting for Aldrich (Guy Pearce) to be more than a small tragedy, but Andy Lau has recently signed on for Iron Man 3. It's more than likely he will be Mallen.
Also, if the rumors of Ben Kingsley playing the Mandarin are true, I have to assume the story will involve him trying to release extremis into the world and reshape the human race. While it sounds like every nerd's dream to have super healing and strength, myself included, there's a catch: about 98% of the population can't survive exposure to the virus.
I do think Kingsley is an actor that feeds off the talent of those around him (he must have starved while filming Prince of Persia), and that could make for some memorable scenes with Robert Downey Jr, who continues his role as, "genius, playboy, billionaire, philanthropist."
Cross your fingers and pray Gweneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts doesn't have another damsel in distress moment. I'm tired of women needing rescue in superhero movies; it's an overused, simplistic device in storytelling. Her character needs to grow a spine as much as Rhodey (Don Cheadle) needs a dilemma greater than corralling Tony Stark's behavior. Iron Man 3 would be as good a time as any to develop Rhodey's paranoia, aggression, and headaches from wearing a suit not designed for him, and Cheadle has the talent to do so.
Regardless of the plot and players, I have a feeling Tony Stark, as well as his suit, will be seeing an upgrade during the film. It will also be interesting to see whether or not Mandarin, assuming he's included, will have his rings: will they be somewhat realistic and made in a lab or will they be like they are in the comics and harness Makluan power akin to magic?
There's plenty of time before Iron Man 3 is released for debate and conjecture. Until trailers are released, I have The Avengers, The Rise of the Dark Knight, and G.I. Joe: Retaliation to occupy my summer. I expect great things from at least two of those films. I'll leave it up to you to guess which two.