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When Marvel Studios talk about expanding their cinematic universe, they don’t just mean the comic book tie-ins like Iron Man 2: Public Identity or websites like StarkExpo.
Marvel One-Shots are a series of direct-to-video short films produced by Marvel Studios, self-contained but tying into the feature films.
Unlike most short films which are ways for first-time film directors to showcase what they can do, these short films are about the story.
The short films are a fun way to explore characters and are an optional extra, the way that the extra scenes following the credits (which tie into all these little bells-and-whistles moments so beloved by fans) point to new angles and story lines.
They don’t feature the superheroes – probably because of the cost factor – but two of them have given us strong female characters (Item 47 and the new Agent Carter), hopefully paving the way to a future feature.
After all, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) appeared in the first two shorts, and his role is expanded with the new television series.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer (included on the Captain America: The First Avenger blu-ray) picks up after Agent Coulson leaves Tony Stark’s lab in Malibu during Iron Man 2, and occurs before he arrives solo at the crater site in Thor.
The Consultant (appears on the Thor blu-ray) takes place some time after the plots of Iron Man 2, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk, but before Marvel’s The Avengers.
For the release of Iron Man 3 there is Agent Carter, which picks up where Captain America: The First Avenger left off.
Here, we meet British operative Peggy Carter (Hayley Cartwell) as she joins the nascent S.H.I.E.L.D. organisation soon after World War II.
As she searches for the Zodiac key, she has to battle her sexist, bureaucratic boss, Agent Flynn (Bradley Whitford), who thinks women have no place in the secret agent business.
Dominic Cooper puts in an appearance as Howard Stark.
The 15-minute one-shot is directed by Louis D’Esposito.
D’Esposito also directed Item 47. The one-shot, released on The Avengers’ Blu-ray, is like a little spin-off movie that points to possible plot lines for the S.H.I.E.L.D. television series.
WIN! WIN! WIN!
Tonight and Marvel are offering an opportunity for Marvel superhero fans to win fantastic prizes.
The grand prize is a full 3D home entertainment system and pack worth R17 000, including a 3D Blu-Ray player, surround sound and a 3D television, plus 3D glasses, an Iron Man 2D/3D Blu-Ray disc, The Avengers six-film Blu-Ray box set, plus four exclusive 3D Blu-Ray titles.
Four runners-up will each win an Iron Man 3 2D/3D Blu-Ray disc and The Avengers six-film Blu-Ray box set.
To enter the competition, check Tonight every day this week. A Marvel-related story will contain the answer to a simple question.
Wednesday’s question is: Who plays Agent Carter in the one shot of the same name?
Save the answer and get the entry details in Friday’s Tonight.