The Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off with a post-credits scene at the end of 2008's Iron Man featuring Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) talking to Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) about the Avengers Initiative. In the years since, Marvel Studios' expansive superhero universe has grown to include 14 films as well as television series airing on ABC and Netflix. Plus, Marvel and Sony Pictures struck an unexpected deal that allowed Spider-Man to join the MCU, appearing in this year's Captain America: Civil War portrayed by Tom Holland.
Of course, Marvel Comics characters have appeared in a host of other forms over the years, including animation, collectibles -- like the popular Funko Pop! figures -- novels, and, of course, the comic books themselves. Now, Marvel has teamed with Funko to launch a new series of animated shorts featuring Pop! versions of iconic superheroes.
Marvel and Funko announced their partnership with the premiere of the first animated short of three on YouTube. Spellbound, which you can view above, sees Spider-Man and Iron Man fighting Thor's brother Loki, though the trickster's mind-controlling scepter proves to make the battle more difficult.
Two other animated shorts will debut over the following weeks: Bait N Switch will feature Guardians of the Galaxy favorite Rocket Raccoon breaking into the Collector's museum to free his friend Groot, and Chimichangas will include the Merc with a Mouth Deadpool facing off against Spider-Man villain Venom. Marvel and Funko's shorts include story and animation by A Large Evil Corporation and were executive produced by Brian Mariotti, Dan Buckley, Cort Lane, Joe Quesada, and Alan Fine.
Of course, the Marvel Funko animated shorts are removed from the MCU and seem to simply be a fun new way for fans to see the characters in action. Not to mention, with the holiday season coming up, they're an entertaining promotion for the Marvel Funko Pop! figures of the characters featured in these animated shorts. Additionally, it makes sense for Marvel and Funko to especially highlight Spider-Man and Iron Man as well as Rocket and Groot since 2017 will see the relase of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Still, it's clear Marvel and Funko also chose some of their most popular characters, which explains the inclusion of Deadpool and Venom in Chimichangas. While the Merc with a Mouth isn't part of the MCU, he did lead an incredibly well-received solo film, Deadpool, earlier in 2016 -- and has a highly anticipated sequel on the way from 20th Century Fox. Nevertheless, the Marvel and Funko animated shorts are a new and entertaining way for fans to watch the adventures of their favorite superheroes.
Spellbound is available now on Marvel's YouTube page; Bait N Switch premieres Wednesday December 7 and Chimichangas on Wednesday December 14.