Marvel Studios has announced the official start of production on "Iron Man 3" and released the first image from the set.

Starring Robert Downey Jr. and directed by Shane Black, the threequel has commenced production in Wilmington, North Carolina. Additional locations are set to include Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina, Miami, Florida and China.

The creative team includes director of photography John Toll (who won Oscars for “Braveheart” and “Legends of the Fall”), production designer Bill Brzeski (“The Hangover”), editors Jeffrey Ford (“The Avengers”) and Peter S. Elliot (“Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”), and costume designer Louise Frogley (“Quantum of Solace”).

As previously announced, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Jon Favreau will reprise their franchise roles alongside Downey. New cast members include Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall and Guy Pearce.

But you won't see any of them in the on set photo. It's simply a look at Downey's back as he faces a full line-up of Tony Stark's Iron Man suits.

The first on set image from


We won't get answers to our real questions -- What impact will "The Avengers" have on a new Iron Man adventure? How will new director Black shake up the series? -- until next summer.

"Iron Man 3" opens May 3, 2013.