If there's one thing we've learned from the increasingly tangled web of the comics, movies and now TV shows of the Marvel Universe, it's that everything is connected. (It's like the "Cloud Atlas" of superhero franchises.) The Marvel brain trust rarely acts without intention, laying the groundwork for future plot twists. Just look at any of the after-credit scene tags: Thor's hammer dropped for the first time after "Iron Man 2," and we got our first look at "Guardians of the Galaxy" when we stuck around past the credits of "Thor: The Dark World."
So it's only natural that we'd be combing any new Marvel footage for hints at what the future may hold. The new one-shot, "All Hail the King," centers on Ben Kingsley's Mandarin-wannabe, Trevor, and his life in prison, but still holds clues at what may happen outside those bars.
Drew Pearce, who wrote and directed "All Hail the King" and also wrote "Iron Man 3," got on the phone with MTV News to point us in the right direction.
"There's a lot of Trevor Easter egging in there," he said of the short. "I think it's definitely worth looking up the young prisoner that asks Trevor to do an impression of the Mandarin. It's definitely worth people keeping an eye on as a character. What you can't quite see is that there's a tattoo by his eye that isn't a teardrop, as one might normally expect, but is actually a tiny chess pawn tattoo."
The kid with the chess pawn tattoo, played by Allen Maldonado, is credited as Fletcher Heggs. Heggs also goes by the name of The Knight, and is one of "Iron Man" baddie Obadiah Stane's henchmen, collectively known as the Chessmen. (Remember Obie?)
The Knight had a two-issue arc in the Iron Man comics, in which he twice tried and failed to assassinate Tony Stark, before being incarcerated. (Enter faux Mandarin Trevor and Heggs' fanboying.) Eventually, the Knight is busted out of prison by the appropriately named Bishop and dropped from a plane as punishment for his mistakes. Another Chessman rises and takes on the name of the Knight, eventually fighting War Machine.
This opens up a whole bevy of potential plot points: Stane died in the first "Iron Man" movie, but perhaps a future Avengers flick will see the superteam take on Stane's loyal brigade, strong even after his death.
Another possibility: The Marvel movies often reinterpret or condense characters and storylines. If there's only one Knight, perhaps he's able to survive that fall after being busted out of prison. Might we be seeing a lot more of Mr. Heggs, perhaps in a War Machine-centric movie? That's one way to have an "Iron Man" movie without Iron Man himself.
Or there's a chance that it's merely a nod to a comic book canon character that will mean nothing at all in the future of the Marvel Universe. Pearce himself admitted that he wasn't handed a master plan of elements to include in the short.
"Everything that happens in the short was there because I wanted to inject some drama, it felt like it was funny or exciting," he said. "Marvel really, in my experience, in the projects that I've worked with them on, aren't very prescriptive about stuff. Maybe it's been different on other movies, but in everything I've done with them, it's been led by creative decisions the whole way. I've got no idea where some of the strands that I've left will go in the future of the MCU."
What do you think? Do you expect to see the Knight again?
"Thor: The Dark World," including the one-shot "All Hail the King," hits DVD February 25.