[Warning: The following article contains SPOILERS for Iron Man 3]
In the long, cold wait between Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel is planning to warm things up with the release of another One-Shot set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As Iron Man 3 star Ben Kingsley let slip last year with a tease, "All Hail the King" will feature the return of "the Mandarin" and reveal where he ended up in the aftermath of the film.
"All Hail the King" will tread on some sensitive territory from Iron Man 3. In a twist that left many Marvel fans seething, Tony Stark discovered that the fearsome leader of the Ten Rings terrorist group was actually just a washed-up, drug-addled British actor called Trevor Slattery who had been playing the role at the behest of Dr. Aldrich Killian. True to Tony's threats, Slattery is forced answer for his involvement in the Extremis plot and "All Hail the King" finds him doing just that.
EW has the first images from "All Hail the King" and an outline of the plot for the short. If you'd prefer to go into it completely blind then you may want to stop reading. Otherwise, here is Trevor Slattery enjoying his newfound criminal celebrity from the comfort of Seagate Prison.
"All Hail the King" was written and directed by Iron Man 3 screenwriter Drew Pearce, and catches up with Trevor in his new life behind the walls of Seagate Prison, being interviewed by a documentary filmmaker (Scoot McNairy) who is putting together a feature about the most recent adventures of Iron Man. According to Pearce, Trevor is living his own version of the high life:
"When we find Trevor at the beginning of this short, other than Tony, he’s the only one out of Iron Man 3 to get what he wanted. And even though he was arrested and beat up and had guns pointed at him, now he’s the celebrity that he always wanted to be and he loves it. He absolutely loves it. He is living a somewhat curtailed version of the celebrity life, but he’s also leading arguably a better life than he did when he was living with, like, four other actors at the age of 52 in some bedsit in the south of London. That’s the other fun thing about the starting point is that when we meet Trevor in the short, Trevor won. The Mandarin didn’t, but Trevor in his own way was victorious."
But Trevor might not find himself on Easy Street for too much longer. Early rumors about the plot of "All Hail the King" stated that it be about the real Mandarin seeking retribution against Trevor for stealing his name and making a mockery of it, and a version of that is apparently true. While the Mandarin may have been a fake, the Ten Rings terrorist group is apparently real and is very unhappy about the events of Iron Man 3. Pearce explains:
"Imagine a real terrorist organization whose beliefs were long held and religious for thousands of years, and imagine a drunk, British actor coming along and essentially telling the world that he’s the face of your organization. I think they would be right to be quite angry.
"There’s lots of exposition in lots of different cuts of Iron Man 3 that, in the end, kind of got snubbed out. It’s kind of said in Iron Man 3 but very briefly, Aldrich essentially took a thing that was real, historically real and culturally real, and co-opted it for his own means — essentially co-opting an ancient terrorist concept. What [All Hail the King] does is show that everything in Iron Man 1 [involving the terrorist group] was canon all along any way."
This could mean that the real Mandarin will show up in "All Hail the King," or it could simply be that the real version of The Ten Rings does not have a Mandarin at all. Either way, this seems like a good opportunity for some meta-commentary about the furore that broke out following the release of Iron Man 3. The introduction of Trevor was definitely one of the most divisive moments in cinema last year and people are still talking about it, so it will be interesting to see if "All Hail the King" soothes or reinvigorates the controversy.
There are a few other particularly interesting snippets to be gleaned from the interview, including the fact that "All Hail the King" will include some other previously established characters from the Marvel cinematic universe. Perhaps Trevor is banged up alongside other defeated bad guys, either from the films or from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. There's also the possibility that the One-Shot will drop hints for future movie plotlines.
Pearce hints that "All Hail the King" will be worth watching for Marvel fans who enjoy speculating about the future of the shared universe, promising that, "by the end of the short, there are definitely a lot of exciting other places that are brought up in it that could then go in the Marvel universe." These lends credence to the idea of there being potential new villains in Seagate, or of The Ten Rings perhaps making a return in Iron Man 4 and (maybe, just maybe) a real version of the Mandarin showing up.
All Hail the King will be available on the Blu-ray and DVD release of Thor: The Dark World, on February 25, 2014.