Marvel One Shot: All Hail the King

3/03/2014 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments


Iron Man 3 launched in May 2013 to massive box office success—grossing more than any other Marvel Studios property, ever—and fairly receptive critical success, hitting 78% on Rotten Tomatoes.

You would never know that Iron Man 3 saw any success, though, if you were to only visit movie blogs and fan pages.  Many—if not most—fans were beyond disappointed with the movie, particularly a polarizing twist with the Mandarin character.  [IRON MAN 3  SPLOILERS, I don't know why you're reading this if you haven't seen it] After teasing what appeared to be a pretty gritty and intense portrayal by Ben Kingsley in the trailers, it turned out Ben Kingsley actually played a character named Trevor Slattery, who was being manipulated by Aldrich Killian to play the part of the Mandarin as a diversion and play on people's fears of terrorism.

The fan outcry is due mostly to the impression that "Marvel ruined The Mandarin" and reduced him to a drugged out actor instead of the super villain.  Comparisons were made to other iconic villains such as the Joker "how would you react if Christopher Nolan pulled that twist with the Joker?"


The simple fact that these arguments are missing, though, is that Trevor Slattery wasn't the Mandarin.  He just adopted the mantle of The Mandarin.  The frustration over the fact that the trailers leading up to the movie seemed to promise a serious and essential Mandarin villain is legitimate, but no harm or change to the traditional Mandarin villain has been made, as it turns out, The Mandarin was never even in Iron Man 3.  Ben Kingsley played a character that was pretending to be The Mandarin.  Look at IMDB. No Mandarin, just Slattery.

When you strip away all the fanboy tears and wailing over how much the movie was "ruined" by this (and a few other elements), the movie was actually pretty fun, the twist with The Mandarin was smart, and Trevor Slattery was a very entertaining character.

That's why Marvel wanted him back for the All Hail The King short Marvel one-shot.  As Marvel has been known to do, they released a short film attached to the Thor: The Dark World DVD/Blu-ray.

[All Hail The King spoilers]

All Hail The King is about 14 minutes long and shows us Trevor Slattery in Seagate prison.  Trevor is a celebrity to some in Seagate, but despised by others.  He is being interviewed by Jackson Norris (Norriss in the comics), about how and why he portrayed The Mandarin character, giving fuel to a terrorist agenda.

Through this all, Slattery still seems unaware of just what role he played in the terrorist and criminal activities of Aldrich Killian and AIM.   In a confrontation with "White Power Dave," Trever is told "You're not the Mandarin, Slattery.  You're not even a real criminal," to which he replies "When an actor has inhabited a role as long as I have, he often becomes it, and it him."


Later, during an interview, Norris tells him "You seem to typify your life as a series of missed opportunities, yet you don't seem to take responsibility for many of them." and digs a little deeper, asking Slattery "possibly, your portrayal has angered some people, some of them very dangerous."  Trevor's responds with one of the most meta quips possible "you don't have to tell me mate, I've seen those bloody internet message boards.  Viscious."  Clearly ripping on the angry fanboys.

It is then revealed that Jackson Norris is actually an agent of Ten Rings, and that the mantle of The Mandarin has been a figurehead for centuries—likely going for a Ra's al Ghul angle ala Batman Begins—and he has taken  notice of Trevor's portrayal and wants to meet him.


All in all, the short mostly serves to clean up some confusion over intent behind the Trevor Slattery/Mandarin switch (and make multiple jabs at fanboys in the process), but also quite possibly pave the way for an Iron Man 4, bringing back Ten Rings and the real Mandarin—or maybe even have Slattery "become it, and it him" as he eluded earlier.

Also stay tuned during the credits (if Marvel doesn't already have you trained), because Sam Rockwell has a great cameo as Justin Hammer.

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