Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Marvel One-Shot: All Hail The King Review

Marvel One-Shot: All Hail The King Review
If you are unaware of Marvel's One-Shot, you need not worry. Just go grab your blu-rays of "Thor," "Captain America: The First Avenger," "The Avengers" and "Iron Man 3" then go to special features on those main menus to catch up. In order to bring The Marvel Cinematic Universe to life, Marvel has dipped into many mediums, including the big screen and the small screen (I feel "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally starting to catch its footing, thank God!). For each of the film's above, Marvel Studios created short films (usually only about 15 minutes long.) set in the MCU to expand the universe.

The first Marvel One-Shot was called "The Consultant" and revolved around a conversation between Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Agent Jasper Sitwell (Maximilio Hernandez), a conversation which led to the final scene from 2008's "The Incredible Hulk." The next One-Shot was called "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor's Hammer" and its exactly what it sounds like. Agent Coulson stops at a gas station and deals with a life-threatening yet humorous situation there. "Item 47" is the third One-Shot and definitely one of my favorites, its revolves around a bank-robbing couple (Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Bradford) who use one of the weapons The Chitauri used in The Battle of New York for their crimes, S.H.I.E.L.D. steps in to stop them and retrieve the weapon. "Item 47" also featured  the first appearance of Titus Welliver's Agent Blake, who made a cameo on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." back around September. The fourth One-Shot was called "Agent Carter," Hayley Atwell reprises her role as Peggy Carter from "Captain America: The First Avenger" and it details how she became a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. 

I have enjoyed all of the One-Shots, I think they fun and full of humor. They are a unique and clever way to expand a world that has made over $5 million so far at the box office. Much like the movies, these One-Shots are cast incredibly well, and are treated with the same respect as all of the MCU movies so far. "All Hail The King" details an interview with Trevor Slattery AKA The Mandarin from "Iron Man 3" and Sir Ben Kingsley returns to play Slattery. Slattery has been in prison for awhile now, and the interviewer (played by Scoot McNairy) wants to learn more about the real Slattery and what led him to be the voice of a think tank that nearly got Tony Stark killed.

I have always been surprised that the Iron Man films have led the charge in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's success. The entire series is just the same idea played out three times. We learn Tony Stark is a billionaire, we learn there are other billionaires who rival him (Obie Stan, Justin Hammer, Aldrich Killian). These rival billionaires hire somebody to help him bring down Stark once and for all, and that is the story for each Iron Man movie. Stan used The Ten Rings in the first film, Hammer used Whiplash in the second film and Killian hires an actor to impersonate a terrorist to shadow his real intentions. Its too bad because Iron Man has a very rich history in comic form. To throw the character in the same story three times is quite lazy in my opinion. I thought that trend would change in the third film, as The Mandarin is nothing like any other foe in Iron Man's rogues gallery. But they tried to pull the curtain over the audience to reveal a big surprise revolving The Mandarin in the third movie. It seems for most people, that reversal didn't work.

"All Hail The King" is, like the other One-Shots, pretty humorous. Its funny to watch Sir Kingsley in total burn-out mode. Its funny watching him as a prison inmate. I loved the opening and closing titles and the overall style of the One-Shot, using an old-school 70's theme to supreme effect. As with all the other One-Shots so far, this one is full of familiar actors and familiar faces (look for a cameo made by Sam Rockwell reprising his role of Justin Hammer from "Iron Man 2."). Much like "Iron Man 3," this One-Shot ends with a big surprise and much like "Iron Man 3," I am once again disappointed by it.

I AM GOING TO BE GETTING INTO SPOILER DETAIL HERE. IF YOU DON'T HAVE YOU'RE COPY OF "THOR: THE DARK WORLD" YET, I'D SAY BAIL RIGHT NOW AND COME BACK ONCE YOU'VE SEEN IT. ITS POINTLESS TO DESCRIBE WHAT WORKS AND DOESN'T WORK WITH THIS ONE-SHOT WITHOUT REVEALING SPOILERS.




So as Trevor Slattery is finishing his interview, we finally learn more about the interviewer. That means he's not who he seems. We begin to get that sense once the interviewer begins chatting about The Ten Rings, the terrorist organization that kidnapped Tony Stark. A terrorist organization that Slattery never heard of. The interviewer suddenly pulls out a gun and kills all the guards in the room. He then tells Slattery that "The Real Mandarin" wants to meet him, all the while we hear gunshots in the background. 

...and that's how the One-Shot ends...

I am sure people lifted an eye-brow at the end of it. But, once again I felt the sting of disappointment. It seems Marvel got the idea that they pissed a lot of people off with their handling of The Mandarin in "Iron Man 3," I am sure they thought fans and general public alike would embrace it. That didn't quite happen and it seems they responded to that anger through their One-Shot. To me, it comes off as phony and stupid though. You can't ruin a potentially cool and dramatic character in a blockbuster film then try to convince me he was real all along in a mini-movie. That just comes off as silly and cruel. Especially if we read into the history. We know Robert Downey Jr. is ending his run at Iron Man, we know he doesn't want to do another solo movie, we know after Avengers 2 and 3 he's out. We have also known for awhile that producer Kevin Feige has an end year in mind to bring this ambitious experiment to a close, and that year is 2021. With all that said, "All Hail The King" tries to convince me that we could see The Mandarin in the future. But do we really want to see a forced fourth Iron Man film with a different actor in the role, a movie that has a big chance of just treading water?

I really wish they would just leave the character alone, admit they missed out on a big opportunity then leave the character alone. I don't want The Mandarin showing up in somebody else's movie. I don't want to see a fourth Iron Man movie where Rhodey steps in for Tony Stark for whatever reason. I definitely don't want an "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." episode where the team goes after The Mandarin. I am fairly certain that most people don't want to see that either. I don't expect everything Marvel does to be great all the time. That's just plain naive. Nobody strikes gold with every movie, nobody. I just want a studio to realize when they screw up, and do better next time.

No matter what the future holds, I hope this One-Shot doesn't lead to anything else. I guess its fun to know the real Mandarin is around somewhere, I hope they just leave it at that. I could live with that. Overall, the One-Shot is fun. If you haven't checked them out, they are more than worth watching. Despite my gripes, so is "All Hail The King."

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