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Americans, the country is playing a huge role for a lot of our films these days, whether you notice it on-screen or not. Sometimes it's lavish Chinese-American co-productions like The Karate Kid, which was basically a Chinese travel ad, or sometimes it's money coming in from Chinese funding to get a movie made. You hear about our government owing money to China all the time, but many of our movie prodders are in the same boat-- and now Marvel Entertainment is joining that list.

In a press release Marvel and Disney announced that they will be co-producing the upcoming Iron Man 3 with China's DMG Entertainment, and that some portions of the film will be shot there. Pre-production is already well underway in Wilmington, North Carolina, where the bulk of the movie will be filmed, but apparently they'll be done in time to start a late summer shoot in China. When you take this news with the casting of Ben Kingsley as the villain, you might be able to ignore the reports that he won't be playing The Mandarin, the classic Iron Man foe whose backstory would lead quite naturally to a shoot in China. Jon Favreau had suggested that The Mandarin would play a role in Iron Man 3 years ago, and though Favreau is no longer involved in the film, they still may want to include one of Iron Man's most famous enemies.

Then again, they may film in China for a segment that's not even set there, agreeing to the terms of the co-production without necessarily shoehorning a Chinese location into the story. Given how secretive these Marvel projects tend to be, a shoot in China might just give them the opportunity to shoot outside without paparazzi capturing every single frame. That secrecy also likely means we won't find out much more about the plot-- or Ben Kingsley's villain, for that matter-- until much, much closer to Iron Man 3's release date of May 3, 2013.

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