While EW is rolling out Marvel comics secrets, it’s also revealing the true multimedia triumph of Marvel these days: the way that studio head Kevin Feige and crew have truly been able to replicate the continuity obsession of the comics into a major motion picture environment. And now they’re using short films as a kind of “Marvel Showcase” for the movies.

Case in points, a new short film called Item 47 which features Lizzy Caplan (Party Down) and Jesse Bradford (Flags of Our Fathers) as a normal couple who finds one of the superguns abandoned in THE AVENGERS and decide to go BOnnie and Clyde with it. Two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (Maximiliano Hernández Lost’s Titus Welliver) then try to track down them down. The film was directed by Marvel Studio’s co-president Louis D’Esposito, and will appear as an extra on the fall’s Avengers Blu-Ray release. But before then it will be shown at Comic-Con and apparently be available through an app.
Ass the EW story shows, this little movie is a way to roll-out some of Marvel’s 8000 or so characters without having to make a $200 million movie.

The question is whether the One-Shots can expand to not just tell not just inconsequential side-stories, but also experiment with longtime heroes who may not yet be ready to carry their own features. A short could be a good test for a Blank Panther or Iron Fist or Wasp, for example — characters who are beloved by die-hard fans but less known in the broader culture.

D’Esposito says the company “wrestles” with that idea. “There’s always a potential to introduce a character. We have 8,000 of them, and they can’t all be at the same level. So maybe there are some that are not so popular, and we introduce them [with a short] – and they take off. I could see that happening.”

The risk is establishing the potential movie too much, and then trying to retroactively recruit a feature filmmaker with those creative elements already in place. “Let’s say we wanted to introduce Ant-Man [in a short], and that would mean we have to cast him prior to having a filmmaker. That’s difficult and something we wouldn’t want to do,” D’Esposito says.

That Ant-Man test footage Edgar Wright has been shooting? Well that would be a great thing to show at the SDCC Marvel panel wouldn’t it?

Even without extra footage, Marvel is planning an insanely complicated marketing effort at the show with yet another scavengers hunt quest through Comic-Con:

A real-life scavenger hunt starts with The Avengers Second Screen app, which will become available as a free download at the iTunes store this Friday. Those who can’t go to San Diego can still use the app to gain access to a clip, but for Comic-Con attendees, it will offer the first clue to finding the trail through the city that ends with a screening on the evening of July 12.

Honest to god, next year we’re going to ditch the whole professional thing and just go on scavenger hunts/quests.


  1. “As the EW story shows, this little movie is a way to roll-out some of Marvel’s 8000 or so characters without having to make a $200 million movie.”

    This is what they should have been doing all along. Although most people are stupid and would make snide remarks about the “third tier”, as if the general public cares about the comic world hierarchy.

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