Saturday, May 28, 2016

Recap/Review: Marvel One-Shot "All Hail the King"

Here we are. The final Marvel One-Shot.

Why did they stop making One-Shots? Well, I'd imagine that it has something to do with the rise of the Marvel TV shows. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had taken off, and Daredevil was well on its way to setting up a whole host of Marvel shows on Netflix. And when Agent Carter made the leap from Blu-Ray to TV... well, they probably decided that any idea worth making a One-Shot out of deserved a chance on TV.

So for the final time, I'll be taking a look at the things that go on between the movies, while the heroes are off doing other things. The final slice-of-life in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And the most blatant retcon in the MCU so far. Except maybe the Infinity Stone retcons.
The final One-Shot opens with a quote.

"Come not between the dragon and his wrath."

While this sounds like some kind of Tolkien quote, it's actually from King Lear, Act 1, Scene 1.

And a staticky glimpse of the Mandarin terrorist videos from Iron Man 3 confirms exactly what we're dealing with here. The man who shrouded himself in dragon imagery. The man whose Lear was the toast of Croydon.

"Wherever that is."
A man (ScootMcNairy) boots up some recording equipment as clips from Iron Man 3 play. 

Man: "My name is Jackson Norris. Today will be the most important in my career. My final interview with the most infamous prisoner in America. A man that the world thought was a terrorist called the Mandarin. But is now alleged to be nothing but an actor."

Which, if you want to get all meta, was always the case.

Jackson: "Thus far, the subject has been evasive, and apparently oblivious to the point of my work. In fact, he seems oblivious to pretty much everything. Except his own growing celebrity."

As Trevor Slattery walks down the prison corridor, he doesn't get threats. He doesn't get things thrown at him. He doesn't get people telling him to sleep with one eye open for what he did.

He gets cheers.

And so, Jackson Norris prepares himself for the task of finally figuring out once and for all what kind of man goes on TV and claims to be a terrorist.

Jackson: "Because we need to know, once and for all. Who is Trevor Slattery?"

Ben Kingsley. Next question.

Trevor enters the mess hall of Seagate Prison, ready for another day's chow.

Trevor: "Bloody hell. It's not exactly the Ritz, is it?"

One of the larger inmates (Lester Speight) yells at Trevor to stop where he is and makes his way across the hall toward him, pushing others out of the way so he can reach Trevor and tell him off for what he's done.

Inmate: "Come on, Mr. Slattery, you know you're s'posed to wait for me."

This is Herman. He's Trevor's bodyguard. Or to use the proper prison term, Trevor's bitch.

Herman doesn't like it when Trevor does stuff on his own, because even though this place is full of his fans, there's more than a few people who'd like to be able to claim that they beat the "Mandarin" up.

Trevor: "So, Herman, with whom shall we lunch today? Serial killers? Nonces? I hear the Triads are a good giggle."

"Nonces," apparently, being British slang for convicted sex offenders. Particularly, ones who target children.

"Hmmm. Let's not sit near that bloke with the Subway."
Herman also serves as Trevor's secretary, and reminds him about his appointment with Mr. Norriss.

Herman: "I still think you should've done that exclusive with 60 Minutes."
Trevor: "I told you; I'll never work for CBS again."

But suddenly, there's a crisis. One that perhaps not even Trevor's obliviousness can save him from.

Trevor: "Wait, Herman. Where's my choccy milk?"
Herman: "I'm so sorry, sir. I'll be right back."
Trevor: "And while you're there, can you see if they've got any kale?"
Herman: "I'm on it!"

Because this takes place in a prison lunchroom, the inevitable happens as Trevor turns around and smacks his entire lunch tray into a rather mean-looking dude named Dave.

Dave: "You ruined my jumpsuit, bitch."
Trevor: "Chill."
Dave: "You know what I want right now?"
Trevor: "Autograph?"

He shoves Trevor. Clearly, this guy's not a fan of Iron Man 3's reimagining of the Mandarin.

Dave: "I want to give the world exactly what it's been crying out for. Your dead body laid out on a goddamn slab."

But with a "Hey, cracker," Herman returns to protect Trevor. And he's not alone. Inmates everywhere stand up for their new buddy.

Trevor: "Ohhhhh, it's the fanbase."

Yeah, there's not much a single hater can do when he goes up against the combined might of a legion of dedicated fans.

Trevor: "Kiss my rings, bitch."
Dave: "You're not the Mandarin, Slattery. You're not even a real criminal."

"Apart from all those illegal things you did. Like drugs. And acting as an accessory to a conspiracy."
Trevor: "Au contraire, Dave. When an actor has inhabited a role as long as I have, he often becomes it. And it, him."

Speaking of the role, while Dave slinks off, one of Trevor's fans asks him to do "the voice."

Trevor: "I'm not a meat puppet."

But he agrees, probably because becoming a different sort of "meat puppet" is something that could easily happen to him unless he keeps his fans happy.

Trevor: "And you'll neverrrrrrrr see me coming."

The inmates all geek out over this, and Trevor takes a bow before going to drink his beloved chocolate milk.

"Deal with it."
Later that day, from inside Trevor's rather large and decorated cell, the interview begins! Kind of. Trevor's preparing for his big moment by doing some vocal warm-ups while stretching; an old habit from his stage days. Jackson tries to turn this into the topic, asking him if he ever imagined he'd end up in a place like this when he started out.

Trevor: "Yeah, not bad, eh?"

But there are some things he misses on the inside.

Trevor: "Ketamine, obviously. And the birds."

...Like, sparrows?

Oh, women. British slang. Gotcha.

Trevor: "But... you know, you make do in that department. I mean, we've all been to drama school, have we not? You know what I'm saying?"

Yeah, well, some of us went to drama school to learn how to act, not to pick up dudes.

But Jackson is a little desperate to get to something that isn't just Trevor talking about how he's living it up, or his favorite forms of drug-fueled debauchery. It's their last day together, and Jackson runs over the basics. Aldrich Killian, AIM, and the "Mandarin."

Jackson: "The one question that most people ask me when I tell them that I know you is that, 'How could he have not known what was going on?'"
Trevor: "Three little words. Lovely. Drugs."

"That's two words."
"Oh. Uh... Lovely drugs."
"You said 'drugs' twice."
"I like drugs."
Jackson switches up his tactics and starts asking about Trevor's pre-Mandarin days. Jackson whips out a photo from the Liverpool Echo, a newspaper. It shows a very young Trevor and his mother on the day he got his first role in The Tempest. Boatswain 1.

Trevor: "Obviously, I told her it was the lead. I always was a bloody great liar."

So... did she never actually watch you in the play then?

Jackson asks about his mother. They were very close, but he wasn't there when she dies. Instead, he was in America for his big break: a pilot on CBS, which he describes in a fake Russian accent.

Trevor: "Caged Heat. Wonderful piece about avenging Russian police cop with anger issues let loose on Los Angeles."

I know you can't hear his accent through the text on your screen, but let's jsut say Black Widow would be cringing.

Jackson has some footage of Caged Heat, and he brings up the intro for it on his laptop. It's basically a bunch of 80's cliches with minor comic characters listed in the credits as actors. Yeah, it looks absolutely terrible. But that special kind of terrible, where internet critics would lovingly review it as nostalgic 80s cheese.

I would recap this show every day if it existed.
And Trevor himself is convinced that it was to be his magnum opus.

Trevor: "Sean Connery made a pass at me once. Everyone on the set called him 'Mr. Connery.' He called me 'Trev.'"

But Jackson has a more pressing question about the show.

Jackson: "Was that a monkey drinking vodka?"
Trevor: "Yes. Yes! And those knobs at the network still didn't pick it up. I think it was too sophisticated for them."

Yeah, they really should have had the monkey drink beer.

But Jackson is noticing a pattern. Trevor's life is filled with missed opportunities, and he keeps blaming other people for them.

Trevor: "My responsibility is to my muse. I'm an actor, love, not a bloody rocket surgeon."
Jackson: "But possibly, your portrayal has angered some people. I mean, some of whom are very dangerous."
Trevor: "You don't have to tell me, mate. I've seen those bloody internet message boards. Vicious."

And yeah, he looks right at the camera for a split second as he says that. The subtext here is more obvious than William Shatner's toupee.

Jackson: "I'm not talking about the message boards, I'm talking about the Ten Rings."

And this is where the mending begins.

A lot of people were upset that Iron Man 3 revealed that Aldrich Killian was behind the Ten Rings the whole time, making him the retroactive main villain of the first movie, as well.

Here's the thing: that wasn't the intent.

The idea was that the Ten Rings were real, and that Killian was just using them as a scapegoat. Killian was never affiliated with the actual Ten Rings.

Here, Marvel is clarifying that the terrorists that kidnapped Tony were dormant after the first film, possibly due to Tony Stark successfully privatizing world peace by the time of the second. But Jackson says that after the events of Iron Man 3, they've been making plans in an attempt to reclaim their identity from this big hoax, specifically from this pretender. This pretender who admits that he didn't know the Ten Rings were real.

Jackson: "Trevor, you told me that when you got this role, that you'd researched it thoroughly."
Trevor: "Yeah, but when an actor tells you he's 'done the research,' it means he's switched on his computer, Googled his own name, and had a quick wank."

Jackson is not happy about this. Not. One. Bit. He presses a button on his camera, and it starts some kind of mechanism going as he begins to explain the long history of the Mandarin.

Trevor: "Who bloody cares, mate? It's a show people want, and I gave them a good one. It's not the Mandarin they'll remember. It's the name. Trevor Slattery. It's the brand. Trev."
Jackson: "You're right. And for that sin, you will soon suffer horribly with a hole in your body for every ring of our faith."

The camera ejects a gun that Jackson uses to shoot the guards as Herman comes over to save Trevor. But even Herman falls in the end. In the struggle, Trevor grabs the gun. Nice work, Trev.

But Jackson knows he won't use it.

Trevor: "I'm an out-of-work actor, love. You've no idea what I'm capable of. And, thanks to the CBS network, I'm pretty good with a handgun."

Jackson effortlessly disarms him.

Trevor: "Why do people keep pointing guns at my head?"

Because it's more effective than pointing them at your feet?
Jackson talks into his watch as the other members of the Ten Rings get ready to bust Trevor out.

Jackson: "You see, there's somebody who wants to meet you."
Trevor: "Do I know him?"
Jackson: "No. But you took his name. And now he wants it back."
Trevor: "Ohhhhh.... no. Sorry, I still don't get it."

And with that, the One-Shot ends... or does it?

After the credits, the earlier scene where the inmates ask Trevor to do the voice replays. But this time, we see what's going on in the background.

Justin Hammer:

Never change, Sam.
He berates his own "butler" for taking forever, unlike Trevor's Herman, and gripes for a bit.

Hammer: "What's so special about him? I mean, I had an army of robots. What's he got? He's got some dumb accent. His name's Trevor, what is that? It's like if Bin Laden and Benny Hill had a baby."

As the credits continue for a bit, he complains about his Forbes magazine.

Hammer: "Then I got to wake up and look at this chick? 'Pepper Potts stirs up stuff.' 'Look at me.' Some second-rate, jumped up, Amazon secretary."

Hey, don't be dissing Amazon secretaries. Wonder Woman was the Justice Society's secretary for a while. Before they started using her properly. And Mercy Graves did good work before she done got blown up by Lex Luthor for basically no reason.

Hammer: "Tony and I. Tony, Tony, Tony's cool. Tony and I, we have an understanding. We're brothers-in-arms, you know. Literally. We were both arms dealers. We're both good looking. We both have nice hair. We both have boats. ...I used to have a boat. Well, anyway...."

And as Justin's "friend" puts his arm around him....

Hammer: "Not here, baby. Not here."

...the One-Shot ends.

Well, first and foremost, I should probably discuss the big retcon.

People were divided on the big Mandarin twist of Iron Man 3. Some thought it was a clever way to keep the audience on their toes, and some were upset that they were denied a traditional version of the character. 

For better or worse....
Along with numerous other reactions, but those are the two extremes. "All Hail the King" is basically a bridge between those extremes, which establishes the existence of a more traditional version of the Mandarin without taking anything away from Trevor Slattery.

And this One-Shot is blatantly and transparently little more than a way to “fix” Iron Man 3. It seems as though Marvel regrets the twist, since they basically whipped the One-Shot up ASAP. And the whole darn thing is filled with not-so-thinly-veiled references to the internet flame wars over this.

But is this One-Shot good on its own merits?


Ben Kingsley is once again hilarious as Trevor Slattery, and more people seemed to appreciate him in this in light of the retcon. And everything from Seagate Prison (where Luke Cage was imprisoned) to Jackson Norriss (aka one of the Nighthawks) is a nice nod to the comics, including all the names in the Caged Heat credits. And the criminals in the Caged Heat promo are a nice little nod to the Tracksuit Draculas. And as ever, Sam Rockwell is a joy to watch.

Overall, I’d say that the Marvel one-Shots ended on a high note. And next time, I’ll discuss them all as a whole. See you then!

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