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.
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