There was an idea that Marvel Studios could maintain its Marvel Cinematic Universe with a series of MCU shorts that could tell stories that the movies never could. At least, not at the times they were released. They were called Marvel One Shots: shorts exclusively created for the home video release of each Marvel film from 2011 until 2014, and dedicated to taking the still fledgling franchise everywhere it could go, without having to spend a feature length budget each trip.
Before Team Darryl from Thor: Ragnarok, it had been a while since we’d seen anything close to being known as a One Shot. And even then, the comedic short explaining Thor’s absence from Captain America: Civil War wasn’t technically branded as a One Shot. But it does embody the spirit of the One Shot, and its success helps remind us of just why they should exist.
As we approach Avengers: Endgame, the long-awaited finale of the Infinity Saga, here are six reasons why Marvel Studios should go back to the practice of doling out One Shots with each home video release.
It Could Help Set Up Crucial Characters And Plot Points For Phase Four
Avengers: Endgame is about to wrap up eleven years of storytelling that make up the first arc of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While there’s definitely a plan in play for Phase Four to introduce new franchises like The Eternals and Shang Chi in the near future, as well as handing off the leadership reins to Captain Marvel, that’s only just the beginning.
If Phase Four is going to be more diverse -- and more ambitious -- than the first three phases, it’s going to need a lot of new and exciting content to do so. Which means, the One Shots could very easily help do a little of the heavy lifting by supplementing characters and plot points that start in mid or end credit sequences, and bridge into new films.
Imagine if Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel finally had an opportunity to show up, without the need of a TV series or a full film. That short could lay the groundwork for her character, and keep her in play until she’s used in either capacity. Meanwhile, she’d finally be onscreen, ready to return at a moment’s notice in a natural context.
They’re A Great Way To Tell Additional Stories Outside Of The Films
As we saw with the One Shot All Hail The King, the continuation of the story involving Trevor Slattery and his guise as The Mandarin in Iron Man 3 was eventually used to twist the character in another way. Were Marvel to pursue the eventual fallout of this short, with Slattery being brought to meet the actual Mandarin, there would be a potential to tell an entire story in One Shots.
What if the “true” Mandarin’s story was a serialized happening, scattered throughout home video releases of Marvel Studios titles? Instead of just being a juicy tease for a massive retcon of Iron Man 3, it could be an entire story that adapts the character closer to the comics.
Or, say the idea of telling the stories of jailed villains caught on? You don’t need a full Iron Man movie to tell that story, or at least not to start off. You could bring back Justin Hammer, or the Vulture, or even Colonel Zemo for one short and round off their stories in captivity. Of course, were they popular enough, there would always be the chance to expand further.
One Shots Help Test The Popularity Of Potential Concepts And Characters
Peggy Carter of the Captain America series is the best example of how testing the popularity of a character before launching them into greater things can work perfectly in the One Shot laboratory. While she was pretty beloved in Captain America: The First Avenger, as well as her guest appearances on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., her One Shot short Agent Carter provided the best piggyback for her character to jump into her own TV series.
Again, the foundation was laid out in a short that, at the very least, would have stoked fan support for the character. But at the most, you find the people that really get the fans riled up and ready to come back to the fold, which indicates that it’s a good time to jump back into TV and Movies with said character.
The Marvel Comics universe is so vast that no one is a guaranteed hit, so using One Shots as the test kitchen to cook up further adventures of side characters that are primed for a spinoff makes a lot of sense. If Inhumans had been a One Shot rather than an expensive theatrical event/season of TV, Marvel’s approach to the material, as well as the viability of the property itself, could have been tested in a less costly manner.
The Shorts Are A Nice Extra To Tide Fans Over Between Films
While Marvel Studios seems pretty set with its three-films-a-year layout, they tend to be front-loaded into the earlier part of the year. In 2019, March, April, and July all see the release of an entry into the MCU, leaving the rest of the year untouched except for home video releases.
Should those three films have additional One Shot content on each of those shelf loving physical copies, fans would have at least three more times to get excited about a new gem of information or a new character to fall in love with. It would basically be giving fans extra content in the off season.
Why should the comic movie fan be content with merely switching to another comic company’s films, when Marvel can keep its name in everyone’s minds with fresh supplies of events and characters? And what about the die hards who don’t even touch the competition? Those true believers deserve something extra for this devotion, in my opinion. Besides, it’s not like there’s a shortage of ideas in the One Shot canon.
There Are Already Unused One Shot Scripts That Can Be Made
It has been mentioned on multiple occasions that there were One Shot scripts that simply never got made, post 2014’s All Hail The King. Producer Kevin Feige, and even Marvel creative player Drew Pearce both talked about ideas that were laid out, but never executed for different reasons.
However, with Disney having more clout and position in the entertainment world to call its own shots, some reasons such as budget and effort could theoretically be overcome quite easily. While this isn’t a reason to advocate spending an obscene amount of money on a young Loki or Nick Fury short, it’s also a call to move past such limitations.
Should Marvel spend more money on the studio’s One Shot projects, that would mean that home video might not be the best or only home that those shorts should inhabit. If only there were a streaming platform that Disney owned, that could use such content to entice subscribers.
One Shots Past And Future Could Be Great Disney+ Exclusives
Perhaps the greatest reason that Disney and Marvel should resurrect the One Shot initiative is, quite simply, that Disney+ needs content. While the What If animated series, as well as plenty other spin-offs of popular characters are coming to the platform, there’s so much more potential here.
This new streaming home could take all of the lessons learned above, and turn them into gold. With Loki already getting a spin-off series, the problem of cost involving any Asgardian shorts is solved. Just use the assets already provided with that series.
Think Agent Carter is worth another spin? Make a short that shows us what Season 3 would have looked like, and see where the public lands! Having merely the test shorts of such concepts on Disney+ would be enough to start winning those hungry for more Marvel, all the time. And if Chris Hemsworth wants a TV show between Thor and his human roommate Darryl, you can practically chalk that success up to the unofficial success of the One Shots that was Team Darryl!
There is a tremendous opportunity to expand the depth and scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe through the redeployment of the One Shots. All that has to happen is for the studio to see the possibilities, and make them happen in reality. For now, we may have to content ourselves with other longform streaming projects.
Which means it’s time for you True Believers, you Marvelous Mavens, to take a poll below and let your voices be heard. Do you want more One Shots, or do you think their day has come and gone? Vote and decide, and don’t forget to explain your choice in the comments below.
In the meantime, Avengers: Endgame will be upon us in early showings on April 25th, so there’s still time to cram a very specific MCU catch up session into your schedule.