Before Marvel TV began launching programming on ABC (and long before they sold a package of character-based original series to Netflix), the "smaller" stories of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were told via short films attached to home video releases of each Marvel Studios production. These Marvel One-Shots were a fun way to fill in the gaps between movies and place the spotlight on supporting characters. This is where Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) got their time to shine as protagonists before leading Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, respectively.
Marvel Studios co-president Louis D'Esposito, who's had a hand directing two of the One-Shots - as well as the Agent Carter premiere - told me on two different occasions how their own internal research has proven that including these shorts as exclusive content on home video releases significantly boosts sales and promotional opportunities. That's why it's both strange and disappointing that the studio has stopped making them. But they may start again in the near future.
There have been five Marvel One-Shots to date: the first one having been attached to 2011's Thor and the fifth (and last) having arriving following 2013's Thor: The Dark World. It was the home video release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier that broke the streak with Marvel citing a "jam-packed" disc of content. In reality it came with generic, standard special features and nothing extra. Guardians of the Galaxy followed suit and the latest home video release, Avengers: Age of Ultron, also does not have a One-Shot. To date we've gotten:
- The Consultant - Thor
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer - Captain America: The First Avenger
- Item 47 - The Avengers
- Agent Carter - Iron Man 3
- All Hail the King - Thor: The Dark World
D'Esposito and Marvel Studios' creative team have apparently had frequent discussions (and have a "backlog" of ideas, according to Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige) about making additional Marvel One-Shots, including ones potentially involving Black Panther, Dum Dum Dugan, Loki, and Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel. However, the time and budget restraints are the obstacles to producing shorts based on higher profile characters.
As we enter Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe next summer though, and as the following year sees the studio expand its release schedule to three features a year, we could see One-Shots return since they likely won't be able to push production beyond three. Speaking at an event we attended this week in LA where Marvel was promoting the in-home release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Kevin Feige addressed the topic of when we may see new Marvel One-Shots.
"We talk about that a lot actually, because when you have tables like that (lots of potential storylines, most unexplored in the finished film), and we go, What are we going to do with Howard [the Duck]? What are we going to do with Cosmo? We should do a one shot with Michael Pena. I mean, the universe is big. We’re moving up to three movies a year and I’m not sure how much beyond that we can go so the one shots are great for: 'oh we have this great idea, wouldn’t it be fun to see…' We talk about it a lot. We’re a relatively small team. We’re comfortable doing three movies a year so it's just about finding the time and the place. But we have a backlog of ideas."
The One-Shots to date have been successful at helping flesh out loose plot threads like Tony Stark's role in The Incredible Hulk and even in introducing additional background characters like in Item 47. Agent Carter helped launch a new series, and All Hail the King helped clarify some issues some Marvel Comics fans had with Iron Man 3, potentially setting up an eventual Iron Man 4. Given how many new characters are entering the fold with Guardians of the Galaxy introducing moviegoers to the cosmic side of the MCU and Marvel TV introduced new sets of characters annually, there's more opportunity than ever to take advantage of them in One-Shots. It's an easy and risk-free of way of testing out characters and directors who otherwise may not get their shot with a full-length feature. They could even be used to help bridge gaps between the TV and movie side.
What Marvel One-Shots would you like to see made and should the studio start with the the beginning of Phase 3 - the home video release of Captain America: Civil War?
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man– July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.