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The Case for Bringing Back Marvel "One-Shots"

Updated on October 16, 2016

It's All About the Money

For a short period, Marvel home video releases included "One Shots," short films taking place within the MCU. The One-Shots were cut from DVDs after the release of "Thor: The Dark World." Many fans were disappointed and wondering why. Let's face it, when a business is deciding whether to do something (in this case, reviving the Marvel "One Shots"), a huge consideration is the financial impact. For the reasons outlined below, I think that Marvel Studios can bring back the "One Shots" in a way that is financially beneficial.

The "Cons"

In order to properly make a case for brining back the One-Shots, the concerns must be addressed. The overarching concern is of course, money. Because the One-Shots were included on the movie DVD's, it was difficult to pinpoint the impact "One-Shots" had on sales. Without a noticeable impact on sales, the time, effort, and money spent just isn't worth the trouble. However, just because a benefit isn't immediate, or is difficult to measure, doesn't mean it isn't there. I believe that the One Shots contribute to brand-building in a way that indirectly benefits the Marvel brand in a way that is highly profitable.

The "Pros"

I believe that the "pros" of brining back the One Shots outweigh the cons.

They can work as "TV pilots" that contribute to an increase in DVD sales. This was the practical effect of the One Shot "Agent Carter," which led to the production of a television series of the same name. Typically, before a television show is ordered, a "pilot" is made, essentially, a test episode. Sometimes, a television network will "pass" on a pilot, essentially not ordering the program. This has happened for a potential Marvel Cinematic Universe television show, "Marvel's Most Wanted." The costs for making that pilot are now a loss for Marvel. If instead Marvel had made a One Shot, they might have been able to receive the feedback needed from the television network. This could help them decide which pilots to proceed with, saving them money by helping them avoid potential failure pilot episodes.

One thing is for sure, including the One Shots certainly won't hurt DVD sales. Though it's difficult to measure the impact of the One Shots on DVD sales, its hard to imagine that someone would not buy a Marvel Movie that they otherwise would have purchased, merely because there was an extra feature they didn't want to watch. Of course, people aren't going to solely buy a DVD because a One Shot was included, but in some cases, it likely tips the scales for people who were on the edge.

Lastly, One Shots can help contribute to the ravenous need to consume all forms of MCU content. When a fictional world becomes as detailed as the MCU, fans are essentially created. People love the immense detail that goes into these fictional world, and striving to consume all content becomes somewhat of a hobby.


Marvel One-Shot, "The Consultant"
Marvel One-Shot, "The Consultant" | Source

Cutting Costs

Marvel Studios is in an amazing financial position. It has consistently produced hit after hit. They have the money to make One Shots, even if they don't get a full return on their investment to create the films. But, if they the cost is the issue, here are some ways to save.

Be conscious of the effects used. Effects are expensive. A One Shot driven by dialogue is going to be cheaper to make than a big action scene. The first One Shot, "The Consultant," was essentially two actors talking at a table, with some interlaced footage from previous movies. Which brings me to another point...

Don't let filmed scenes go to waste. Oftentimes, scenes are cut to keep the total film length down, or because the scene was just extra fluff that wasn't essential to the story. This unused footage is perfect for One Shots. Apparently there is an action scene from the filming of "Ant-Man," which is essentially a young Hank Pym taking out a South American drug lord. Some of this footage was used in the trailer for Ant-Man, and at one point briefly in the movie (When Darren Cross is exposing Hank Pym as Ant-Man). The entire scene was filmed and effects were even applied! Instead of taking that scene as a financial waste, put a bow on it and include it as a One Shot.

Choose Actors that currently exist in the MCU that are currently looking for a project, then go from there. These actors would preferably ones that aren't as highly billed (aka NOT Robert Downey Jr., consistently one of the world's highest paid actors). Find an actor who hasn't gotten a gig in a while. There are plenty of actors to choose from, considering there have been 13 movies released as of this blog post, with a continued two to three movies expected every year for the foreseeable future. There have also been over 130 television episodes (with no sign of slowing down). There are plenty of actors with interesting characters looking for something to do.

Changing the Format

Though the One Shots were exclusively featured as extra features for DVD home release, changing the format could help the short films increase in popularity (as many people merely watch the movies in theatres, they might not even know of the One Shots), and/or allow their popularity to be more accurately measured.

One change in the format could be premiering the One-Shots before the movies in the theatres. Though this might help spread the word on the existence of the One-Shots, people who go to the movie aren't going to the theatre for the extra features, they are going for movie itself.

The One Shots could also debut as hour long TV specials. The last three One-Shots produced approached a duration of between 10 and 15 minutes. Marvel could film 4 or 5 unrelated One Shots (or possibly with a slightly interrelated theme), and then release them as a television special.

One positive aspect of introducing the One Shots before movies or as TV specials, is that they can also later be sold in DVD format. I believe that once you have enough One-Shots, maybe eight, you could then sell a DVD that is exclusively One-Shots.

The heroes of the Marvel Universe.  With thousands of characters, the films could never introduce all of Marvel's characters, so why not include them in One-Shots?
The heroes of the Marvel Universe. With thousands of characters, the films could never introduce all of Marvel's characters, so why not include them in One-Shots? | Source

If I was in charge of the Marvel One-Shot program, I would include One-Shots during the previews/before the movies at the theatres, as well as an hour long special once a year featuring 4 or 5 One-Shots. Then, after everyone knows about the One-Shots, sell a DVD with the previous eight One-Shots, maybe even including an extra One-Shot for the DVD purchasers.

At least that's what I'd do. Let me know in the Comments Section what ideas you might have about revamping Marvel's One-Shot program.

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