Contrary to popular belief, short films do have a place outside of film festivals. Pixar Animation Studios has figured out how best to utilize the format, including such Oscar-winning shorts as Geri’s Game and For the Birds ahead of A Bug’s Life and Monsters Inc., respectively. Earlier this month, the studio extended its Toy Story brand with the clever Hawaiian Vacation, which gave us another chance to hang out with Buzz and Woody without having to cash in on a drawn-out, subpar feature. (Yes, Cars 2, I’m looking at you.)

Now it looks like Marvel Studios may be thinking about leaving their mark on the short-film format as a way to expand the roles of secondary characters mainstream audiences might not easily recognize. A source close to the studios tells Film School Rejects that staff writers have been commissioned to begin penning shorts for characters that either could be included in future Marvel features or end up with movies of their own. While this was a rumor floating around over the past few months, Marvel Chief Kevin Feige is on record saying he likes the idea, so this could be the first step toward making it happen.

And why not? Marvel has multiple movies in play, from next summer’s The Avengers to Iron Man and Thor sequels, and fans could come to expect a Marvel short before each the way Pixar audiences have come to expect a bonus treat for the price of their ticket. Rejects adds that two shorts already have been shot. Each include Clark Gregg’s Agent Phil Coulson, the bridge between all of the films running up to Avengers, and that they will be part of the special features sections of the Thor and Captain America DVDs and Blu-Rays due in stores later in the year.

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