Marvel One-Shots Could Return As Online Content

Between 2011 and 2014, Marvel Studios released five short films called Marvel One-Shots. Each short film told a side story that tied into part of the larger cinematic universe, featuring some of the films' stars such as Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter and Ben Kinglsey as the faux Mandarin, a.k.a. Trevor Slattery. Each was released on home video packaged with one of the Marvel films, but after Thor: The Dark World, they stopped. However, in a new interview, Captain America: Civil War directing duo Anthony & Joe Russo hint at Marvel One-Shots returning, possibly in the form of original online content.

Speaking with Forbes, the co-directors addressed the issue of declining sales of Blu-ray and DVD releases of movies as viewers begin a shift to digital downloads, and how that effects the distribution of bonus content, whether it's featurettes or the Marvel One Shots. Anthony Russo said they've been talking about their approach to that kind of content as they head into The Avengers: Infinity War:

We have gone through a little bit of a transition with that content, We can't go into too many details about this but we are thinking, very specifically, about to do new ways of what you are talking about with Avengers: Infinity War. We're just in the beginning phases of figuring them out. Yes, DVDs are gone but there is this wonderful internet platform out there called YouTube.

It seems a bit early to say that DVDs are gone, but physical media is soon to decline in the same way that VHS tapes did after DVDs took off as the dominant form of home video. So the internet seems like the best place to deliver original content to fans, and the Russo brothers are exploring all the obvious avenues to make that happen:

We're also talking to Facebook and Twitter and Instagram about ways to feed ancillary content to them and to viewers because it'll go viral there and you can reach millions of people. The platform is changing but it is a lot easier to sit on your couch and Apple TV pops up rather than you having to get up and find a DVD, so it is what it is, and there are always new and different ways to reach the audience.

In addition to Marvel One-Shots, featurettes and other content you usually find on home video releases, they're also considering new ways of creating buzz by offering "elaborate versions of trailers for instance, that are shot specifically for online that will never appear in the movie but that may appear as a kind of short film for a movie in the same way that a trailer does." That sounds like a hybrid of Marvel One-Shots and movie trailers, which seems a little strange to me. But it's just an idea at this point.

Speaking of ideas, Marvel has a backlog of them waiting according to an interview we had with Kevin Feige last fall:

We talk about [Marvel One-Shots] 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 [the Dog]? We should do a One-Shot with Michael Peña [from Ant-Man]. 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 its just about finding the time and the place. But we have a backlog of ideas.

Hopefully Marvel One-Shots will make a return sometime in the near future, because they were fun little side stories that helped expand the Marvel cinematic universe. Maybe they could even become a little more integral to the MCU and become viable ways to introduce minor characters — or turn them into leading characters, the way the Agent Carter One-Shot paved the way for the Agent Carter TV series. We'll just have to wait and see.