In anticipation of "The Avengers" upcoming September 25 release on Blu-ray and DVD, Marvel debuted the "one-shot" short film to be included on the Blu-ray release at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Fans who completed an exhaustive scavenger hunt through downtown San Diego's Gaslamp District were treated to a screening of "Item 47" and a Q&A with the cast and crew at the United Artists cinema. CBR News was on hand for the premiere, one of the few -- if not the only -- chances to see "Item 47" on the big screen.
"Item 47" refers to a destructive alien weapon left on Earth after the events of this summer's mega-blockbuster "The Avengers." As fans know, all 47 artifacts were rendered inert after the defeat of Loki's forces -- but one was unaccounted for, and now it's functional. With an indie romance feel, the couple who find the weapon cement their love as they rob banks across the country in a Bonnie and Clyde-style crime spree, drawing the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ben (Jesse Bradford) and Claire (Lizzy Caplan) wield a massive, arm-length energy cannon which, Claire says, "literally fell out of the sky into our laps" -- and how could they pass up such a gift from fate. Agent Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez), a soft-spoken man in black in the Agent Coulson vein, tracks the couple to a roadside motel where, of course, a devastating confrontation ensues.
After the eleven-minute film -- the longest to date of Marvel Studios' "one-shots" -- writer Eric Pearson, director and Marvel Studios Co-President Louis D'Esposito, visual effects artist Jake Morrison, and actors Bradford, Caplan, and Hernandez engaged in a question and answer session at the front of the theatre.
D'Esposito said, when his team was considering what the story of the "Avengers" one-shot would be, Pearson hit on a winner with a one-sentence pitch. Pearson said it was "Bonnie and Clyde get ahold of one of the alien guns from 'Avengers.'" Pearson added that the street-level view of the "Avengers" aftermath adds to the shared universe Marvel Studios has built since the first "Iron Man." "The more it affects the everyday person, the better," Pearson said.
"Item 47" marks the first of the shorts D'Esposito has directed, and FX artist Morrison said the co-president's status worked wonders for his budget. "Once they hear Louis is directing, it was like it was free." Caplan joked that "the budget was bigger than any other movie I've been in."
Despite the film's brevity, D'Esposito developed deep character histories for Ben and Claire, and Caplan noted that "you don't see us in our life of poverty." She revealed that, in an important moment that does not appear on screen, the lovers "went to the woods to figure out how [Item 47] works."
"This is great because I can find out if they read it," D'Esposito joked, pleased that his background material was put to good use.
One fan asked how they ultimately got the gun to work. "Well, you've got to reverse the polarity, remove the crystals," Bradford said, beginning a long, nonsense Sci-Fi answer. "It took us about an hour and half."
There was a question as to whether future "one-shots" might appear before the main feature rather than as Blu-ray extras, similar to the shorts that precede Pixar films. D'Esposito said that, as much as some of these deserve to be on the big screen, he sees the home releases as a better fit for them.
The panelists were asked whether Bradford and Caplan's characters might appear in Marvel Studios' full-length films. "Good, answer this one!" Caplan joked. D'Esposito said simply, "At this point, anything is possible.
A young fan, who turned out to be Hernandez' nephew, asked Caplan how she felt "seeing all that money." "I felt happy for the first time in my entire life," she said. And when it blew up? "Very sad."
The final question was whether there would be a Black Panther movie.
"That's my son!" Hernandez laughed.
D'Esposito called the boy up to the stage and whispered something in his ear.
"Don't tell anyone, Daddy needs his job," Hernandez said.
And while the boy was seated directly in front of this reporter, his siblings' pleas did not move him to tell.
"Item 47" will be included on the "Avengers" Blu-ray release, on sale September 25. Stay tuned to CBR News for more coverage of Comic-Con International 2012.