Variety is reporting that Ben Kingsley is in talks to be the bad guy in Iron Man 3, and that he won't be The Mandarin (although having once played Indian I don't see why he couldn't play Chinese as well). So who will he be?
Maybe Aleksander Lukin? The Russian was at one time head of the Roxxon Corporation, the only major Iron Man-related corp that hasn't done much in the movies (their building shows up Iron Man 1 for a second). That could be an interesting bit of crossover, as Lukin is really a Captain America villain - in his time at the KGB he was the head of the Winter Soldier program, which involved the Russians keeping Cap's sidekick Bucky on ice until they used him in wet works black ops (it's better than it sounds). I'm just spit-balling here because Kingsley can do a good Russian accent and Roxxon hasn't been used yet. I'd bet that The Winter Soldier shows up in Captain America 2, and having Bucky cameo in Iron Man 3 feels like a very Marvel Studios thing to do.
Or, if it is still Roxxon, maybe Kingsley will play Hugh Jones, who actually founded Roxxon and is the son of a Texas oil billionaire (shades of George W). That seems less likely, though - there are other actors you'd go after if you wanted that vibe. Also, Hugh Jones' whole thing was getting his hands on the Serpent Crown, an Atlantean artifact. I doubt the movie would go in that direction but I would SO PSYCHED if it did.
Or it could be an all new character. We've been told that the Extremis story is the basis for Iron Man 3. That arc involves a nanotech virus that attempts to replicate the Super Soldier Serum, which Tony Stark is forced to test on himself. It gives him a mental connection to his armor, allows him to have some magic nanotech armor that he can hold in his Flash ring or something, gives him extra healing, etc etc etc.
That story doesn't really have the biggest hook, and the villain is even more forgettable than most Iron Man villains, so perhaps they're making somebody up to take the central role.
I wouldn't be surprised if we find out that the 'Rings' organization that popped up in the first two films is related to Kingsley's character even if he isn't the Mandarin. I get the impression Marvel simply has cold feet about an Asian villain, especially one based on such old-fashioned Orientalism.