When we first reported that the next Marvel One-Shot short film might focus on The Mandarin, it was suggested that Sir Ben Kingsley’s character – a drunk, British actor – might have to pay the price for impersonating an actual, powerful villain. It raised hope that Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) would have to contend with his rival somewhere down the line. And now Marvel’s sort of confirming this via a sneak peek at the planned short, "All Hail the King."
EW spoke with Marvel insiders about the short, which will be part of the Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray disc. The 14-minute short will follow Kingsley’s character, Trevor, as he’s locked away in a maximum-security prison. It is being viewed as an epilogue to Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, but also a possible set up for Iron Man 4. Says Drew Pearce, who wrote the IM3 screenplay:
"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 has been speculation ever since Iron Man 3 concluded that the bait-and-switch attempted by Marvel was a ruse, and that the real Mandarin was still out there, gathering power and plotting against Stark (and maybe the other members of the Avengers). I wrote, at the time, that I believed Black mishandled Iron Man’s true nemesis. I’m excited by the fact that Marvel might want to make things right in a future Marvel movie. Pearce elaborates:
I think short movies in general, whether they’re Marvel ones or not, you kind of want them to feel like they’re opening you up to a bigger world. Yeah, I definitely think there are – the non-spoiler way for me to say it — 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. You know, whether that’s an Iron Man movie or another one going into Phase Two or Three."
In the short, Kingsley’s character will sit down with a documentary filmmaker (played by Scoot McMairy) to tell his side of the story.
The documentary reportedly is trying to determine whether The Ten Rings, run by the Mandarin, actually exists. "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. We kind of knew The Ten Rings were a real terrorist cell," Pearce explains.
I’m guessing Marvel wants The Mandarin in play if RDJ agrees to staying in the suit. Or maybe they’re willing to recast Tony Stark down the line, and are keeping options open. Either way, these comments make "All Hail the King" the most anticipated Marvel One-Shot yet. Here are two more exclusive images from EW. Read the piece. It’s pretty informative.