VOCIFERY 018 All Hail The King (2014)

Welcome to VOCIFERY, my attempt to re-watch every piece of media in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – every movie, every television series, every one-shot, every web series, and every tie-in comic book, using the Wikipedia entry on the MCU as a guide, before the release of Avengers 4 in May 2019. Join me as I write my thoughts about what I’m seeing, as I see it!

Also, spoilers follow – if you’re worried about that kind of thing, view before reading.

All Hail The King one-shot (2014)

As far as I can tell, All Hail The King is the last one-shot Marvel Studios produced to tie-in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it is a real shame because it simultaneously makes the case for more one-shots, and makes the case for a fourth Iron Man film with the real Mandarin as the villain.

In this short, we follow Trevor Slattery, the British actor (played by Ben Kingsley) who posed as The Mandarin to create a front for Aldrich Killian and AIM’s Extremis program in Iron Man 3; you may recall that this was all revealed in a hilarious – and somewhat divisive – scene in the middle of the film.

Here, we see Slattery going through a regular day at Seagate Prison: he is waited on by a large inmate who collects his food, and adored by a group of prisoners who ask him to “do the voice”. Slattery is then interviewed by documentarian Jackson Norriss (played by Scoot McNairy), who enquires about his youth, and his starring in a failed 1980s pilot titled Caged Heat (complete with a score by Mike Post, who provided music for this scene in the short).

Norriss then reveals himself as a member of Ten Rings, the terrorist organisation run by the real Mandarin. Using a gun constructed by the video camera he is using, Norriss takes out the guards and breaks Slattery out of prison to face the Mandarin, who is upset that Slattery used his name. For his part, Slattery has no idea the Mandarin is even real.

During the credits, we cut back to an earlier scene, told from the perspective of another prisoner: Justin Hammer, played by Sam Rockwell, who has been incarcerated since the events of Iron Man 2.

The film is well made: written and directed by Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3), it takes on the tone of that film and spends just a little more time with Slattery, a character who was used to perfection in the earlier film. The story angle – that Slattery angered the Mandarin – is an interesting one to take. It is shot extremely well, even deserving of a big screen release.

I would go as far as to say that it is the best of the one-shots, which makes it a mystery why Marvel Studios stopped making them. It could be cost; though you’d assume they could roll the filming in to the production they tie in to. It certainly isn’t a lack of story ideas, since all the shorts have been interesting, and there is plenty of fertile ground to cover.

All Hail The King also raises the question of a fourth Iron Man film.

As I write this, none of the original trilogies – Iron Man, Captain America, Thor – have been announced to have further sequels, partly because of the universe expansion and partly because of an unwillingness to talk about what is coming after the next two Avengers movies. There is always chatter, but nothing has been set in stone.

If we assume that Tony Stark/Iron Man makes it out of those sequels alive, though, I think All Hail The King sets up what could be a very good sequel for the shell-head: The Mandarin serves as the primary villain, and Justin Hammer serves as a secondary antagonist, teaming up the two comic book characters who are generally assumed to be Iron Man’s greatest enemies.

We already know the Mandarin is operating in the MCU – the film could start with him confronting (and presumably killing) Trevor Slattery – and his organisation, the Ten Rings, has been kicking around since the beginnings of the MCU. Their failed plot in Iron Man, foiled by Tony Stark’s meddling in Stark Industries, gives them motivation.

And we know Hammer is in prison with Slattery. It isn’t outside the realm of possibility that either the Mandarin knows this and breaks him out for his weapons knowledge, or that Hammer sees what is happening and asks Norriss to take him as well.

Whatever happens, All Hail The King is a very good short and, I think, one of the more valuable pieces of non-film/non-television content in the MCU. And I hope we see more like it.

Next: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 1 Episodes 14-16!

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