Marvel Studios’ latest “One-Shot” film not only sets the stage for exciting future short films, but may be the comic publisher’s redemption for a huge mistake in last summer’s “Iron Man 3.” The short, entitled “All Hail the King,” is included in the surprisingly sparse special features of the Blu-Ray release of “Thor: The Dark World.”
Trevor Slattery, the talented but moronic actor who masqueraded as the Mandarin, is busy enjoying his fame while in prison. A documentary filmmaker arrives to interview him, but the former brings lots of trouble with him.
This ranks as Marvel’s most ambitious and entertaining “One-Shot” film. It stars Ben Kingsley, the first A-list actor to appear in a “One-Shot.” While fans angry with his portrayal of the so-called Mandarin might be upset to see him again, especially when he performs his Mandarin voice for his fellow prisoners, it shows that Marvel has earned enough respect that big name actors are willing to work on these shorts. In fact, it was reported on The Nerdist that Kingsley reprized this role for little pay despite a tight shooting schedule.
Second, the film operates on several levels. It not only supplements “Iron Man 3,” it is an effective satire of the entertainment industry, particularly of television. Trevor Slattery makes constant references to what he believes were the great works of his past. During his interview with the filmmaker, he is shown the opening credits sequence for a failed television pilot he made in the ‘80s called “Caged Heat” (not to be confused with the real-life 1974 exploitation film), wherein he plays a Russian cop. The sequences is shot in a retro styling, making it look straight out of the ’70 or ‘80s, and parodies the opening credits of “Magnum, P.I.” The most hilarious part is Slattery’s Russian cop has a monkey—yes, a monkey—as his partner. Slattery says, “It was too sophisticated for [CBS].”
Third and most importantly, the ending makes one wonder if the short was written (or rewritten) as a response to the backlash from fans about Kingsley’s Mandarin being a proxy. The filmmaker turns out to an assassin for the Ten Rings, the terrorist organization supposedly headed by the Mandarin. He reveals that he works for someone who is angry that he stole his name, and then says he is taking Slattery to meet this someone.
In other words, the Mandarin is real! He is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His name and, theoretically, his image were taken by Slattery.
Unfortunately, the short ends on a cliffhanger with the assassin pointing a gun at Slattery’s head and Slattery begging for his life. Will he return in a future short? Will the real Mandarin (please) stand up and appear in a future MCU film or “One-Shot”? One can only hope that Marvel will pay this off. Perhaps the Ten Rings is pulling the titular Winter Soldier’s strings in the upcoming “Captain America” sequel. Who knows?
In a humorous bit of continuity, Sam Rockwell appears during the closing credits as Justin Hammer since the character was imprisoned in the same facility. He complains about how he does not understand why people love Slattery and not him. It is fun seeing him again.
So, while this does not redeem everything that was wrong with “Iron Man 3,” it certainly sets its greatest offense right.