Now that The Avengers is wrapped and ready to premiere, work is moving full speed ahead on the next installment of the Marvel heroes’ saga, Iron Man 3. Though the first two Iron Man movies were made under the watch of Jon Favreau, this one is being put together by director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), and if there was ever any doubt that he would be able to live up to what Favreau did with the property, the casting he’s been doing is starting to erase it.

First off, Black needed a villain, so he went out and got one of the most experienced and acclaimed actors working today, Ben Kingsley, and signed him up. Now he’s in need of someone who looks good in a lab coat, so he’s gone out and gotten one of the most underrated and underutilized actors in Hollywood. According to Variety, Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential, Memento) will be joining the likes of Kingsley, Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Don Cheadle in the Iron Man 3 cast, and he’ll be playing the role of geneticist Aldrich Killian.

Killian was featured in the “Iron Man” comics during a story-arc that Warren Ellis wrote called “Extremis.” It tells the tale of a nanotechnology virus, created by Killian and his co-workers, that quite suddenly goes from being contained in a lab to being out in the world. The virus has the ability to link the human brain with technology – creating a sort of technological super soldier – which in the wrong hands could be devastating. Enter Iron Man and, presumably, lots of high tech robot fights.

Pearce was last seen in that movie about space jail (Lockout), and will next pop up in Ridley Scott’s Alien whatsit, Prometheus, so it’s starting to seem like the actor might be at the beginning of a second career wind; this time thanks to his casting in a bunch of action-packed science fiction films. Probably that’s the coolest way to become famous ever, so congratulations to him.

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