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Thursday, August 02, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Marvel One Shots

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  That's all there is to it.  Since I've been re-visiting Marvel's Phase I, I think the best way to close out would be to take one last look at the Marvel One-Shots.  This is in my notes at February 4, 2018.  

Since I've been going through all my Blu-Rays, refreshing myself on Phase I of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I thought it would also be fun to go through the Marvel One-Shots, since they started about halfway through Phase I. 

For those who don't know their comic book terminology, a "one-shot" is a comic book where an entire story is told in a single issue.  How Marvel applied it to movies is they started producing a series of short films, usually expanding on a character or a concept introduced in a film.  They were released as bonus features on the various Blu-Ray releases.  I'm kind of sad they quit doing them.  On the other hand, I'm pretty sure the entire project served as a proving ground for Marvel's television division, as a lot of the involved talent went on to work on Marvel's TV projects.  Hell, since three of the five that were produced deal with SHIELD, they've long been considered the unofficial pilot for Agents of SHIELD.  Same with the fourth one, which focuses on Agent Carter. 

Just looking at the releases, these started at around the time that Disney bought out Marvel, so I wonder if it was a Disney influence.  Because, you know, with Pixar and Disney Animation, they have their very popular short films that run before the films, and eventually get released as a Blu-Ray bonus.  I'm surprised that Marvel never followed in those footsteps, and gave the One-Shots their own super-special edition Blu-Ray release. 

Anyway, let's delve into them.

The Consultant - SHIELD agents Coulson and Sitwell are having dinner in a diner.  Coulson is pissed.  He just got out of a meeting, and the World Security Council (those shadowy figures that Nick Fury answers to in The Avengers) are pushing to have the Abomination included in the Avengers Initiative.  Needless to say, SHIELD is cold to the idea, as the Abomination was the bad guy in the climax of The Incredible Hulk, but to the World Security Council, Emil Blonsky is still a decorated war hero.  As the Abomination is currently in General Ross's custody, SHIELD has to request that Ross release the Abomination to SHIELD.  So, Coulson and Sitwell hatch their plan.  They should have some so arrogant and annoying make the request that Ross will refuse it.  They decide the perfect person would be...SHIELD consultant Tony Stark.  CUT TO the final scene in The Incredible Hulk, where Stark approaches Ross in a bar and says he's putting a team together.  CUT TO the next day.  Coulson and Sitwell are patting each other on the back, because Ross turned down Stark so hard, that Stark wound up buying the bar just so he could close it down to spite Ross.  Yeah, this one pretty much exists just to explain away the final scene from The Incredible Hulk and why Ross isn't participating in the Avengers.  Originally released on the Thor Blu-Ray. 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer - Taking place between Iron Man 2 and Thor, as Agent Coulson is heading out to the New Mexican desert.  He stops for gas late one night, and as he's trying to decide between powdered donuts and chocolate-covered donuts for his road trip snack, a couple of gun-toting thugs come in to rob the gas station.  Coulson, using his dry wit and combat skills, easily dispatches the two crooks.  I'm big fan of the simple "convenience store robbery take down" scene ever since I saw Snake Eyes do it in a G.I. Joe one shot when I was a kid.  It's a great fight scene, too, full of bullet time effects and CGI gunshots.  Fun trivia fact:  the producers admitted that The Consultant is just two guys talking in a diner because they blew their entire budget on this one.  Originally released on the Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-Ray.

Item 47 - A young couple has fallen on hard times and, in the wake of the Avengers, managed to get their hands on a Chuthari weapon from the wreckage.  Using this alien ray gun, they start doing a Bonnie and Clyde routine, robbing banks up and down the East Coast.  The alien weapon means this falls under the jurisdiction of SHIELD, and Agent Sitwell is sent out to recover the weapon and neutralize the couple.  Cut to another awesome fight scene of Sitwell duking it out with the couple before eventually subduing them.  And then, we see Sitwell has a rather unique definition of "neutralize."  Since they were the first ones to crack the code of Chuthari weapons and get them running, he offers them a job at SHIELD in the R&D division.  This one is very cute, and a nice showcase for Agent Sitwell.  We saw him again in a few episodes of Agents of SHIELD, and then in Captain America: The Winter Soldier he was revealed to by a HYDRA agent.  This one was on The Avengers Blu-Ray.

Agent Carter - This one probably served as the unofficial pilot for Agent Carter.  Heck, because of the way it ends, it could even serve as the series finale.  It's a year after the end of World War II, and Agent Peggy Carter is still an agent with the SSR.  However, her new boss, Agent Flynn, treats her like a glorified secretary, and she's never assigned any field work anymore.  Then, one night, after all the boys have called it a day, gone drinking, and left Carter to lock up, the office gets a call.  It's a lead on a McGuffin known as Zodiac.  Since she's the only one the office, and desperate to get out in the field again, Agent Carter naturally goes rogue and heads out to recover Zodiac on her own.  The mission is successful, as she takes out five thugs on her own and recovers Zodiac.  The next day, though, instead of being grateful, Agent Flynn is pissed.  Flynn finally lets his true feelings for Agent Carter be known.  As far as he's concerned, she only got as far as she did because she was Captain America's girlfriend, and she only still has a job out of pity.  This stunt is what Flynn needs to send Agent Carter back to the kitchen.  But then, fate intervenes, in the form of a phone call from Howard Stark.  Stark informs Flynn that the SSR is being disbanded, and replaced with a new organization called SHIELD.  Thanks to her stellar record, Agent Carter is being appointed its first director.  Flynn's final mission is to inform Agent Carter, and escort her to her car waiting downstairs.  Of course, when Flynn asks Carter for a new job in SHIELD, she tells him to go to hell.  And we have our first post-credit stinger, where Stark and the Howling Commando Dum Dum Dugan are marveling over this new French invention called the bikini.  This one is just a great bunch of fun.  Hayley Atwell is still fabulous as Agent Carter, and Bradley Whitford as Agent Flynn is appropriately slimy.  I always remember him from those Aaron Sorkin shows, he always surprises me when he plays a great sleazeball.  Originally released on the Iron Man 3 Blu-Ray

All Hail the King - Another one that was made to appease the fans.  This fleshes out the story of Trevor Slattery, the actor who was hired to play the Mandarin in Iron Man 3.  Slattery has actually adjusted to prison life quite well, as his newfound infamy has managed to get him a large fandom who watches his back.  Slattery is currently being interviewed for a documentary about his life, and we get some good tidbits about his life.  His best-known role before becoming the Mandarin was for a failed pilot from the 1980s called Caged Heat, where he plays a former KGB agent now working as a PI in LA.  I've got to admit, the fake opening credits they made for Caged Heat is beautiful, as it looks just like any other 1980s cop show.  They even got famed TV composer Mike Post, who gave us such themes as Magnum PI, The A-Team and Law and Order, to write the Caged Heat theme.  Our big twist ending, though, is that the documentary filmmaker is an agent of the REAL Mandarin, and the REAL Mandarin is eager to meet Slattery.  So, yeah.  For the people who hated what Iron Man 3 did to the Mandarin, rest assured that the real Mandarin is still out there.  And in our post-credits stinger, we see that Justin Hammer, the Iron Man 2 villain, is in the same prison as Slattery, and wonders what Slattery has the he doesn't.  This one is just fun.  Ben Kingsley has a lot of fun reprising the very loopy Slattery.  Released on the Thor: The Dark World Blu-Ray.

And that's it.  That's all we have for the One-Shots.  As I said, it'd be great if Marvel brought back this project, but the TV division has pretty much replaced it.

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