Iron Man 3 isn’t the only Marvel Studios property making waves at Comic Con 2012. Last night, the latest short film from the production company, Marvel One-Shots: Item 47 premiered at the United Artists Theater in San Diego. It was the sole theatrical presentation that Item 47 seems likely to receive, and was greeted with enthusiastic cheers. Well, that’s all well and good. But how was it really…?
First, a look back: in retrospect the Marvel One-Shots were a bittersweet enterprise, seemingly designed to engender good will towards a character who was ultimately destined to die (assuming that’s what really happened) in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. In The Consultant, we joined Agent Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg, as he worked his way through a mighty Marvel plothole: why was General Ross recruited to the Avengers Initiative at the end of The Incredible Hulk, only to vanish from the multi-film franchise altogether? In A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer, we saw the Son of Coul kick some ass of his very own, giving the otherwise laidback character the opportunity to prove his SHIELD mettle.
With Coulson gone, Marvel One-Shots seems to be keeping its focus on the inner workings of SHIELD, specifically its employees’ laconic sense of humor and nifty side-missions. This time out, two SHIELD Agents played by Titus Welliver (“Lost”) and Maximiliano Hernandez are on the hunt for a piece of Chitauri weaponry left over from the climactic battle in The Avengers, which has fallen into the hands of Jesse Bradford (Bring It On) and Lizzy Kaplan (“Party Down”), who had previously hit dire straits and are making the most of their sci-fi windfall by going on a merry crime spree.
Item 47 is the longest Marvel One-Shot, but it’s still short enough that writing much more would ruin the whole damned thing. Suffice it to say, the film – directed by Louis D’Esposito (Marvel Studio’s Co-President, who clearly went through a long and rigorous audition process before he landed the gig) – depicts yet another small corner of the Marvel Studios universe, one drained of blockbuster action sequences and instead swimming in the Studio’s special brand of Whedonesque character development and peculiar comic timing. There’s a little action, and things do indeed blow up, but Item 47 seemingly exists to fill out the Marvel Universe in the cinematic realm, and remind us that it’s still going – and increasingly eventful – betwixt motion picture releases.
The short is largely a success: Hernandez, Bradford and Kaplan are all in fine form although, Welliver seems saddled with a little awkward dialogue, particularly in regards to Coulson, which doesn’t entirely sell. It also seems pretty implausible that after the countless explosions, felled Serpentor Air Chariots and collapsed giant robo-dragons that a mere 47 items from the Chitauri invasion would remain in the aftermath. At the very least, the end of the short – satisfying and funny – promises more to come with that particular plot point, if only as an excuse to introduce more spectacular sci-fi technology to the earthbound corner of the Marvel Movie Universe. Pay attention to the credits for hints of future plans.
Item 47 will premiere as a special feature of the Avengers Blu-ray release on September 25, 2012.