Marvel Studios Looking to Short Films to Launch Lesser-Known Characters

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 12:21 pm,

Marvel Studios Short Films Marvel Studios Looking to Short Films to Launch Lesser Known Characters

Following the less-than-stellar box office gross of mega-expensive superhero film Green Lantern, it’s safe to say that studios will probably be less inclined to simply throw buckets of money at untested comic book adaptations. Green Lantern isn’t an “unknown” by any means but few casual moviegoers (the people who turn superhero films into billion dollar franchises) probably ever dressed-up as a Lantern for Halloween or played with Sinestro action figures.

As a result, it’s possible that the superhero film gold rush may be winding down a bit. Not to say that superhero films can’t make huge money; however, with so many comic book adaptations in theaters, it’s clear that some moviegoers are now choosing which superhero films they’ll pay to see. No one is more aware of this fact than Green Lantern‘s rival comic book movie studio, Marvel – who may be seeking ways to test lesser-known characters without dropping feature-film money.

According to a source close to Marvel Studios, who spoke with Film School Rejects, the comic book film company is currently exploring the idea of developing short films featuring secondary Marvel superheroes – for the purpose of testing the characters (and presumably casting) with audiences before injecting them into a feature film. It wouldn’t be the first time that we’ve heard rumors of Marvel short films (prior rumors were later debunked by producer Kevin Feige – though he admitted the studio was interested).

The source also claims that “two shorts have already been shot, both featuring actor Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson” – special features that will be included in the Thor and Captain America home releases. That said, it’s hard to fit the Coulson “shorts” into the same category as fresh mini-films designed to test moviegoer-interest in untested characters. Coulson, along with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, is the connective tissue that has been stringing all the pre-Avengers standalone films together. The character’s “shorts” probably fall closer to the category of “deleted” or “bonus” scenes rather than actual short films.

Thor and SHIELD agent Coulson Marvel Studios Looking to Short Films to Launch Lesser Known Characters

Either way, there’s no doubt that Marvel Studios has the ability, and need, to utilize the short-film format – since they’re running out of triple-a heroes to bring to the screen. Marvel has enjoyed a good run at the box office lately but they’re not exempt from releasing a few lackluster movies that featured secondary characters who were probably doomed out of the gate – most notably the Daredevil spin-off, Elektra. Sure Elektra may have been enjoying to watch when paired-up with Daredevil (was she even fun to watch in Daredevil?) but anyone who sat through the first ten minutes of her spin-off could quickly tell the film wasn’t going to deliver an adequate big screen experience. Had Marvel screened those first ten minutes (or a short-film with the character) ahead of Spider-Man 2, it’s hard to imagine that Elektra would have ever made it to theaters.

Moviegoers are already trained to respond to hype-building footage – audiences watch close to 15 minutes of previews ahead of most feature films these days and online trailer releases are among the biggest news items we cover here at Screen Rant.

Who wouldn’t love to see a Dr. Strange or Ant-Man short tested ahead of The Amazing Spider-Man or released online (ala Mortal Kombat: Legacy) – even if the characters were never picked-up for a feature?

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick — and let us know which secondary Marvel character you’d like to see get the short film treatment?

Source: Film School Rejects

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  1. These short films are exactly what marvel needs to do to bolster it’s shared universe. The movie equivalent of limited runs. Low production and marketing costs and great exposure for lesser-know-to-laymen characters.

  2. Ant man

    • Heroes for Hire

  3. Nova, Thrasher. Who knows…There are so many to choose from.

  4. I like the idea.

    And hate on me if you want to but I liked Elektra.

    • hey i liked elektra too even tho it wasnt that good

  5. Great idea, there really isn’t anything else to be said I guess…

  6. Moon Knight is much lesser known in the Marvel univers but has a great deal of backstory and plot. Would definitely be interesting to see a modern tale of this dude.

  7. I think they should do like a Marvel Team Up film. Take the Thing (I know he is owed by someone else) But for this example we will use him since it was basically him in the book. So ben is talking to someone about his week or something and its done in a flashback way. Last Tuesday I was walkin to Alicias and BOOM! Something happens and Dare Devils all over it. Give it about a 15 minute story and end it. Next he talks about how a month ago he was on vacation and something bizzare is going on and all of a sudden there is Rom. and do this with 5 or 6 charactors. Or am I just pissing up a rope here?

  8. I would really like them to include the Sentry into this. He is a very complicated character that, if done correctly, could become a great movie character. The only problems with this are: he wasn’t very popular (because his powers are limitless), and he was very short lived. His positives, however, are fantastic: even though he is the greatest hero/villian (the Void) in the Marvel Universe he is incapable of showing his true power, his actual origin story would translate perfectly to film (junkie looking for a high) and the idea that he is a hero that does not deserve his powers, would play so well into film. They could even not include any other heros into it and focus on his realization that he is the Void.

  9. The Black Panther….why he dident make it into the avengers as a secondary character kinda stinks.

    I’d love to bring Beast (from X-men) over to the Avengers…since he was an original member.

  10. It’ll be like the old days when you used to get a short film and a couple of cartoons before the main feature. I think only pixar show shorts before their big films nowadays.

    It’d give better value for money, what with the spiraling cost of cinema tickets. They should keep the shorts in theaters, and when the run is over release them online for everyone to watch. Then include them on the DVD/Bluray

  11. Runaways would still need to be a full length movie to do it justice.

    Maybe these shorts would be a great way to do origin stories. It would have 2 benefits:

    1. Could inexpensively test the waters on a characters popularity, or even a certain directors vision.

    2. Would free up a follow up movie so they dont have to retell the origin, a la Green Lantern. Better stories could flourish without being accused of being to ‘busy’ (or ‘crappy’ as the case may be)

  12. Lets get one thing perfectly clear… The hero movie business is not winding down or losing steam. Green Lantern did not do well because it simply was a very bad movie that’s it! Not because he was not as popular as some of the bigger name heroes – NO.

    The movie which had so much potential (which shows through when you see it) just did not deliver… it was poorly written and the vision poorly translated to the big screen. Sad but true.

    Anyone that says the hero movie days are ending should give their head a shake. The movie industry is running out of good ideas and the comic/graphic novel industry is just exploding with new material that is ripe for the picking… Just need better writers who know how to write.

    • well said

    • No one said that they were ending. I said the “gold rush” was winding down. We’re essentially arguing the same point – that films need to actually be good now in order to win casual moviegoers over.

      Plenty of film fans are now choosing “which” superhero films they are going to go see, whereas the last few years have seen superhero films that were, by default, the event of the summer – even if they weren’t particularly good.

      • Sorry, I knee jerked cause I’ve been hearing the tone of “people are getting tired of super hero movies” thing a bit too much lately and I (and probably a lot of other people – comic book fan or not – would probably disagree with that notion).

        But yes… get the other heroes out there any way possible… The kiddies are learning about them in their cartoons so by the time these other hero movies get made in another 3-7 years those children will be itching to see their favs on the big screen (not to mention the marketing bonanza).

        Frankly, although the last few years have been good with the Iron Mans and Hulk remake and Spidey flicks (to name a few)… But I cannot remember a year that I have been itching to see so many movies that are truly big screen worthy as 2011… And I am praying it only gets better with each year as more of these types of movies come out.

  13. They should definitely make shorts about Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and Deadpool.

    • They’re working on full movies for those characters already.

      I hope they do a Moon Knight short film.

      • Moon Knight FTW …

      • Definitely Moon Knight…

        • I would love to see a Moon Knight short film or feature for that matter.

          And while your at it GIVE ME THE VISION!!!! I will lose my mind if they ever put him up on the big screen and actually do him right… Come on Pym build freakin Ultron already (cue easter egg after the Avengers credits)!

          • Ah, a person after my own heart.

            I also love that character, one of my fave Avengers. I have been lobbying for them to make Avengers 2 all about the Ultron story arc so we could actually have Vision join the team in a faithful manner (instead of being an oversimplified story like he was created by Pym to house Wonderman’s consciousness)

    • Marvel dont have the rights to Deadpool

  14. I would love to see Cable. A short story to set up a supporting role in the Deadpool movie.

    • that wont work cause FOX own them characters

  15. Moon Knight

  16. Maybe Felicia the black cat from Spiderman? Is that her name? The reason I say this is because I liked Elektra and I liked Catwoman.

  17. A couple thoughts: 1) I do think creating “shorts” (maybe 10-15 mins?) is an interesting and semi-original idea. They could start showing these at the beginnings of each tentpole character’s films (Spidey, Avengers, X-Men, etc) a-la the Pixar shorts. 2) These could also be similar to the old “serials” of the 40s in which the shorts leave you on a cliffhanger until the next one. If you make these shorts in three parts per character, you could then edit them together for a 1.5 hr DVD/BluRay featuring ONLY that character’s short film adventures. Throw a couple “cameos” in there like Thor or Wolverine and you could have a real money-making business model for these lesser-known characters.

    Off-topic but I have also been thinking that maybe it’s almost time for there to be development of a big DC/Marvel teamup movie in the next 5 years or so. Imagine the hype that would DWARF “Avengers”! Hey, if they could do it in the comics, why not a feature?

    • Oops–not a Math teacher, Ha ha! If you string FOUR of these short episodes together (assuming they’re around 15 mins each), you could release a 1-HOUR DVD/BluRay. Sorry for the miscalc! :)

  18. This makes 100% sense for 2 reasons….

    1) The obvious one….test the audiences like they say in the article. What better way to do that than this??

    2) Marvel is now owned by Disney…..if I am not mistaken, Disney has been known to do this quite a bit with their animated & Pixar features. They have seen quite a good amount of success with it, and they know how it can be done right.

    Glad to see the Marvel/Disney match up is better than some had thought it would be :-)

    Make Mine Marney!!! or maybe Disvel??

    • Pixar won’t do the superhero stuff though, so it’ll have to be some other studio.

      • I know, I wasnt saying that Pixar would do it, just saying this is a format that Disney has used in the past, with great success.

  19. It would be nice to see them use this as a quick origin for some of the characters so we don;t have to “waste” half of a feature length movie explaining why Hulk is Hulk, as an example.

    • Very good idea

  20. Luke Cage and Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, Storm(her own movie), Mortal Kombats:Scorpion and Sub-Zero.

    • Mortal Kombat? Thats Warner Brothers (DC comics).

  21. I just have 1 word for a short film that would rock them all…….


    • Before people get all over me, I know, I know, its Fox owned, but a man can dream.

      • I agree, i wished movie had the rights back to Dr. Doom cause id love to see him as a villian for an Avengers movie

  22. Love the idea, I think it Will enhance the marvel experience. A more mature version of Pixar’s method

  23. Definitly Sentry of Blue Marvel!!!

    • Definitly Sentry *Blue Marvel

      • /\insert or

  24. I’d like to see Power Man and Iron Fist.

    • I think Power Man & Iron Fist could be great stand alone movies and have a sequel be a joint movie including both of them.

      Of course I would like to see Black Panther.

      And a Moon Knight HBO Series would be nice. ThoughI would want it to be confusing like Usual Suspects/Memento in the sense that TV audience would not know until half way through the season the Mark Spector¿? and the other idenities are one person. Would take an awesome writing staff and even awesomerr director.

  25. I love the idea of the shorts being run before a feature film!

  26. Dark Hawk would rock, too

    • Loved Dark Hawk!

  27. it’d be call to see a short intermingle slightly with the main feature with subtle nods and hints to each other. but god damn the sooner they give me something (ANYTHING) that introduces X-Factor

  28. I’d love for them to do a “cosmic” short film, or several of them, possibly to introduce elements for later Avengers films. Adam Warlock is a personal favorite of mine, and they could use characters like Gamora or Silver Surfer (although given he was used in the FF movies, Fox probably has the rights to him at the moment).

  29. I’d still rather see big budget movies done with some of these less-known characters (for instance, Dr. Strange NEEDS a big budget to be properly done right) but I can see where Marvel would be interested in going in this direction.

    But I am not sure it is time yet for that. Green Lantern was just a badly made movie.

    If anything, they SHOULD do all the characters’ origin stories as short films and get these over with, THEN do a big budget sequel. That way they’d avoid cluttering up a story with an origin.

    • I really (REALLY) want them to do a big-budget Dr. Strange film, but the budget it would need to properly portray the magic, crazy demons & deities, and the psychedelic settings could put it in GL territory. They’d have the same problem GL had before they started working on it, which was he was sorta unknown outside of the “comics nerd” crowd. A huge budget + limited audience awareness = a precarious proposition, and that’s not even factoring in problems with the actual production that could prop up, like terrible script or iffy effects.

      • I watched the Marvel Animations Dr Strange film and if they follow that pattern and make the movie character driven (ala Iron Man) for the first film I believe it would A) be a success B) work within the budget and C) open the doors for larger, more magical & bigger special effect driven sequel. They key is that you have to create a character and make the audience love him and care for him. Show him as a careless playboy, him losing everything after the loss of hands, his failed operataion on his sister to save her, and then struggle to believe magic (as we the audience are skeptical) & harness it. Keep Dormarmu¿? in the back ground (ala Voldemort) and have a lesser rouge/rival play the antagonist to keep the focus on the Strange.

        Dr Strange saving grace would be that Harry Potter & to a lesser extent Lord of the Rings have popularized magic. You just need a really charming actor to play Strange and we got a winner.