The announcement that Marvel Studios was going to start doing short, micro sized, films that expanded the universe they were building and fleshed out the fact that their world was bigger than the stories being told in the tent pole pictures was intriguing at the very least.
It seemed like the perfect way to introduce lesser known characters who maybe didn’t have the mass appeal to warrant a full blown adventure of their own yet. I had hoped they would play the shorts before the bigger pictures sort of the way Pixar does, but if they were going to exclusively be on the Blu-ray releases, at least the over priced discs would have at least ONE special feature worth getting excited about.
But instead of a new character, ala Black Panther or Dr. Strange. we got Agent Coulson and Agent Sitwell chatting over pancakes in a diner essentially serving as the straight men for a joke about Tony Stark being a caustic pain in the ass. The “short film” used footage from THE INCREDIBLE HULK in place of any new footage of “A-List” talent (Apologies to Clark Gregg – it was still early in the Marvel Universe…)and left a bad taste in my mouth.
Granted it answered the question as to just why Tony Stark visited General Ross in the end of THE INCREDIBLE HULK because even though it was cool as Hell, plot wise it made no sense, but it still seemed kind of cheap compared to what they had advertised intentionally or not.
The second ONE SHOT was a little better: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THOR’S HAMMER appears on the Blu-ray release for CAPTAIN AMERICA – THE FIRST AVENGER and while it doesn’t fill in any plot holes or make any great connections between films, showing part of Agent Coulson’s journey from Malibu to Nevada in the middle of IRON MAN 2, it does manage to lend more character development to Clarg Gregg’s consummate SHIELD agent and show that even as a lowly, mortal, non-super powered human – he was not someone to be messed with and more than capable of handling himself in a dangerous situation (as long as that situation didn’t involve a long, magical, pointy stick I guess).
It was with the release of THE AVENGERS Blu-ray in my opinion that gave us the first real look at the type of world these shorts could help to flesh out. In ITEM 47, Bennie and Claire are a romantically linked but morally ambiguous couple who pick up a Chitauri rifle after the battle of New York and use it to start a crime spree that gets the attention of SHIELD. Hilarity ensues.
The short is fast, fun and I am all but certain was the impetus for Joss Whedon’s SHIELD TV show getting a proper pilot and subsequent series order from ABC. It was different than the other shorts because it was a self contained story that was RELATED to the events of THE AVENGERS but could easily have existed without it – the Chitauri weapon being a “MacGuffin” that could have been explained away with one line of dialogue.
AGENT CARTER is the ONE SHOT that Marvel Studios has attached to the release of IRON MAN 3 and it takes the bar set by ITEM 47 and easily raises it by at least four feet.
It’s a straight forward, action packed sequence that I could easily imagine popped into the back ten pages of a MARVEL Comic book in a slow month – the sort of thing Stan Lee would caption with “HEY TRUE BELIEVERS – EVER WONDER WHAT HAPPENED TO CAP’S BEST GIRL?”
Hayley Atwell instantly reminds you of why her character works so well in CAPTAIN AMERICA – THE FIRST AVENGER and seeing her in action in the same world from Joe Johnston’s excellent Comic Book adaption made me absolutely HUNGRY for the upcoming CAPTAIN AMERICA – THE WINTER SOLDIER.
And I guess that’s ultimately the point of these.
Marvel ONE SHOT : AGENT CARTER is on the IRON MAN 3 Blu Ray available September 24th.
It is also available now at various On Demand Outlets – in true Marvel form be sure and stay through the credits . . .