HONG KONG – With Tony Stark’s fans scouring Beijing to get a glimpse of their idol, sneak peaks of the Iron Man 3 shoot in the Chinese capital were bound to appear online eventually. And the first picture of actual actors on set has finally popped up, showing Chinese actor Wang Xueqi, in character as the villainous scientist Dr Wu, standing beside the superhero himself in a scene set in front of the Chinese capital’s southern city gate of Yongdingmen.
It is not clear whether Robert Downey Jr is in that armor – the Chinese blogosphere have been abuzz with speculation about his presence on set ever since filming in Beijing began on Dec. 10. An accompanying caption attached to the photograph explains how Wang’s character was “explaining about Beijing life” to “Iron Man who have just descended to Yongdingmen”.
Marvel Pictures and DMG Entertainment announced Wang’s casting as Wu with two photographs showing the veteran Chinese actor shaking hands with Downey Jr off the set, and filming a scene, in an US hospital, opposite Gwyneth Paltrow (who reprises her role as Stark’s aide-cum-love interest Pepper Potts in the third installment) and Don Cheadle (who returns to the franchise as James Rhodes aka The War Machine).
Wang’s presence has given Iron Man 3 a massive boost in exposure and pedigree in China, where the actor has long been regarded as an institution with his award-winning performances in both blockbusters (such as Bodyguards and Assassins) and arthouse fare (he made his film debut in Chen Kaige’s The Yellow Earth, the 1984 film seen as giving birth to China’s so-called Fifth-Generation Filmmakers). He stars in Chen’s Caught in the Web, China’s Oscar entry this year for Best Foreign Language Film.
Directed by Shane Black, Iron Man 3 is slated for a late April 2013 release around the world before making its bow in the US on May 3.