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While Marvel Studios films and television shows continue to flesh out the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one initiative that has gone by the wayside is the company's One-Shots program. Beginning back in 2011 and including titles like The Consultant, Item 47, and Agent Carter, the series of shorts was used to both fill gaps in the continuity and tell stories that couldn't really be told on the big screen. Sadly, they stopped being made after the Ben Kingsley-starring All Hail The King in 2014 -- but the potential good news is that they may be making a comeback. This comes from Eric Pearson, who wrote the first three One-Shots, who told me the following late last week:
I think probably the drop in Blu-ray sales has hurt the One-Shots program -- though I've heard whispers of it starting up again. I can't confirm that at all, but I've definitely heard whispers of it. And I have a whole folder full of other One-Shots that I just came up with. And I was like, 'Oh, this will be a fun eight to 12 pages!'
Eric Pearson's most recent work for Marvel includes the screenplay for Taika Waititi's upcoming Thor: Ragnarok, but when I hopped on the phone to talk with him about the blockbuster last week, my first question out of the gate was about the One-Shot program. Given that he is the writer of four of the five shorts that were ultimately produced, I figured he would have some insight as to where the initiative has gone and if there is any chance of it coming back -- and in his response he suggested that a return is possibly on the table.
Discussing his work on the Marvel One-Shots, Eric Pearson not only told me about how he first became a part of the Marvel team, but also how the program grew its roots in the first place. According to the writer, there was initially an idea to use the shorts in front of theatrical releases as a means of experimenting with lesser-known properties, but when cost became a concern they pivoted to start making the content for home video release. Pearson explained,
I was in the Marvel writers program, where I was in the studio writing screenplays for certain characters that... several of which have been sold to TV, which is a bummer for me, but whatever. But it was similar to the Disney fellowship where you're in and available to do anything. When they first brought it to me I think their initial idea was to try and set up something like Pixar, where you could do a short film at the beginning with a lesser character, to kind of have fun, expand the universe, and test out the audience's appetite for one of these more obscure characters. So that would obviously be very expensive, especially when things were so 3D-heavy at the time. So the test process was going to be, 'Well, we'll do some shorts for Blu-ray content.' And that's kind of how it started.
As far as the initial goes go, the Marvel One-Shots were definitely successes. Not only did shorts like The Consultant and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor's Hammer open the door for Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson to star on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., but Agent Carter wound up inspiring two seasons of an ABC show as well (one that Eric Pearson also wrote for).
The Marvel One-Shots were great for playing with new ideas and even fixing some story elements that don't make sense (that was basically the whole point of The Consultant), and it would be amazing to see Marvel Studios bring them back -- even if they aren't entirely cost effective. We'll just have to wait and see by tracking their upcoming home video releases!