By Marc Strom
Drew Pearce just can't seem to shake Trevor Slattery.
The co-writer of Marvel's "Iron Man 3" returns to the character, memorably brought to life by Ben Kingsley, as the writer and director of "Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King," the latest short film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While fans will have to wait until "Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King" becomes available with Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World" in Digital 3D and Digital HD on February 4 and 3D Combo Pack and Blu-ray February 25, Pearce teases that the new short will add to Trevor's story and, as a result, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
"I wrote a Trevor [short], actually, during shooting of 'Iron Man 3' down in North Carolina," recalls Pearce. "And we all liked it, but it was kind of dealing with a different part of Trevor's life. It was more of a straight-up retrospective of who Trevor was, and it felt like the One-Shots work best when there's action and intrigue and a real story to tell in the short, rather than just filling in the blanks. Though the One-Shots are technically a Blu-ray extra, I think they're kind of the most elaborate, richly put together Blu-ray extras in history. I think they work best when they don't just function as an extra scene, but they expand [the story]."
Pearce landed on the idea for "Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King" after a meeting with Marvel producers Kevin Feige, Louis D'Esposito, Jeremy Latcham, Stephen Broussard, Brad Winderbaum and "Avengers: Age of Ultron" writer/director Joss Whedon.
"We kicked about a whole bunch of my ideas, [and] some of them stuck, some of them didn't," explains Pearce. "[Then] I said 'Oh, Sir Ben loves Trevor, so I think there's a chance we could do a Trevor short.' Joss was literally incredulous, and just said, 'Look, you've got access to one of the world's very best actors, why are we even having this discussion?' And so it was born.
Thankfully, Kingsley agreed to come and, as Pearce puts it, "take the three days off that he's had in two years and come and hang out with me in a prison in Los Angeles." But filming the short in a real prison added a necessary layer to Trevor's story.
"What's interesting about Trevor, is he's only funny if everything around him is real," relates the director. "He's almost funnier the more real and threatening the stuff around him is. So my whole thing all along [was], if we're going to do a short about Trevor, everything else in it has to be real and brutal and kind of scary, because that's kind of the amazing thing about Trevor--in the face of true and actual terror, he still acts like a mental case. And actually, it's almost where he thrives. So that's why we shot in a real prison, [and] a whole bunch of the extras we used were real ex-cons. I really wanted it to feel like we were shooting an early-'70s, late-'60s prison movie that Trevor Slattery had just happened to wander into."
Much of the short revolves around a conversation between Trevor and a documentary filmmaker, played by Scoot McNairy. And while spending that much one-on-one screen time with an actor as prestigious as Kingsley would intimidate most people, Pearce knew he'd found the perfect match in McNairy.
With Pearce paying homage to the prison films of decades past, the latest "Marvel One-Shot" has a look and feel unique from not only its fellow shorts, but also any other film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a place where the director feels creators have room to put their own stamp on the characters.
"These things aren't auteur movies, but what they are, I think, are really full of the flavor of the filmmakers that are at their core," remarks Pearce. "So I just feel insanely lucky that Kevin and Louis gave me that chance, really. [That approach] is entirely inspired and in line with what Marvel comics have done since their very inception. Every Marvel comic, whether it's the creation of a character or whether it's the continuation of a character, [is] always just as infused with their author as they are with the character itself. ['Iron Man 3' director] Shane [Black] and I always said, with Iron Man, you're a custodian for a period of time for a thing that has both legacy and immediacy, but you're kind of not doing the character any justice if you don't try and take it to a different place.
"[For instance], if you look at the difference between Joss Whedon's ASTONISHNG X-MEN and the Chris Claremont/John Byrne [UNCANNY X-MEN] era, they're unbelievably different, yet both are powered by the same brilliant themes and stuff [while also] entirely reflective of their different authors' distinctive voices. That's the whole thing about comics, that's how they work, and I think the movies are actually being very faithful to the tradition of the comics in order to do that. There isn't really a 'house style' at Marvel in the MCU."
Pre-order Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World" on 3D Combo Pack and Blu-ray, in stores February 25 featuring the original short film "Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King"!