Jessica Chastain, Iron Man

Christopher Polk/Getty Images; Francois Duhamel/Paramount Pictures

Superbabe showdown!

Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man has already got his leading lady: Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. But the possible arrival of a nemesis for her man's attention could force Gwynnie to brush up on her fighting skills.

Per Deadline, The Help's Jessica Chastain is in talks to join the growing cast of Iron Man 3, and the ubiquitous actress should know a thing or two about superheroics: She starred in six films last year—and even nabbed an Oscar nom for Best Supporting Actress for The Help.

But whom will Chastain be playing?

MORE: Iron Man 3 Gets Its Villain—Which Bad Guy Is Ben Kingsley Poised to Play?

Chastain will reportedly take on the role of a "sexy scientist" who'll conceivably go toe-to-toe (or is it brain-to-brain?) with Downey's genius Iron Man alter ego, Tony Stark.

It seems the actress was offered the role before, but scheduling snafus kept her from committing to the project. Producers supposedly considered Diane Kruger and Isla Fisher for the part, but an unexpected opening in Chastain's shooting schedule has now catapulted her back into the Iron Man fray.

She's the latest A-lister to circle the project, following news that Ben Kingsley is close to signing on as the film's villain. (Exactly which villain he'll play has inspired its own guessing game.)

The Shane Black-directed flick, which reportedly starts shooting in five weeks in North Carolina, is shaping up to have an ultra-prestigious cast that includes two Oscar winners (Paltrow and Kingsley) and three Oscar nominees (Downey, Chastain and Don Cheadle).

MORE: Guess Who's Joining the Cast of Iron Man 3? Plus, Five Other Rad Things We Know About the Sequel

Already, the blogososphere is abuzz about the film's plot, and the reigning theory among fanboys is that the flick will be based on the 2005 "Extremis" comic book storyline, in which a scientist creates a drug that bestows superhuman abilites on its subjects.

That about makes sense, since it was recently announced that Guy Pearce would be joining the a geneticist. Bingo!

The flick doesn't hit theaters until May 3, 2013, but you'll at least be able to get some kind of Iron Man fix in the meantime: The metalhead pops up next week in The Avengers, whose early reviews are looking really, well, super!

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