If You Long For The Days Of Marvel One-Shots, Eric Pearson Has News For You


Once upon a time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe did not rely simply upon post-credit scenes to add content to the fabric that holds its franchise instalments together. It also created short films – known as Marvel One-Shots – that were designed to provide an opportunity for the giant brand to experiment with other, lesser-known characters, while filling the gaps in storytelling that inevitably open up within the confines of such a vast narrative endeavour. These short films became highly anticipated gems, and were included with Blu-ray releases of theatrical movies. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a Marvel One-Shot since 2014, but that may be a situation that’s heading for change.

Eric Pearson is a co-screenwriter (with Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost) for Thor: Ragnarok, which is about to release in cinemas. The movie is his first feature length script, but he’s highly experienced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – having worked his way through the Marvel Writer’s Program, and consequently having written four of the five Marvel One-Shots that made it to production.

While on the promotional trail for the aforementioned threequel, Cinema Blend asked the writer about his experience of creating the Marvel One-Shots, and here’s what he had to share:

“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.”

The five Marvel One-Shots that have been filmed and released proved very popular, and highly influential within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first was The Consultant in 2011, which was attached to Thor and featured Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez) sabotaging efforts to have Emil Blonsky (the villain of The Incredible Hulk) freed to join the Avenger Initiative. That was followed by A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor’s Hammer – again, in 2011 – attached to Captain America: The First Avenger. This also focused on Agent Coulson, as he resolved a gas station robbery. The combination of these One-Shots, in addition to 2012’s The Avengers, gave rise to the television show, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, which launched in 2013.

2012 then saw the Marvel One-Shot Item 47 attached to The Avengers, and it starred Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Bradford as a young couple who stumble upon an alien gun, discarded after the events of The Avengers, and use it to rob banks. They’re apprehended by Agent Sitwell (Hernandez), and a newly introduced Agent Blake (Titus Welliver). In addition to laying more foundation for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D television show, the plot concept of civilians collecting discarded alien technology was later revisited in the story for Spider-Man: Homecoming.

In 2013, the Marvel One-Shot Agent Carter was attached to Iron Man 3, and saw Agent Peggy Carter from Captain America: The First Avenger trying to establish herself as a field operative in the face of blatant sexism from her colleagues. This short film gave rise to the television show Agent Carter, which ran for two seasons – for which screenwriter Eric Pearson also wrote. All Hail The King was the last of the five Marvel One-Shots, and is the only one of the collection to be written by some one other than Eric Pearson. It’s penned by Drew Pearce, and is arguably a response to criticism of the way in which the supervillain The Mandarin was presented in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3. This short film was attached to Thor: The Dark World in 2014.

So, now that Thor: Ragnarok is about to arrive in theatres, and the number of Marvel television shows is rapidly increasing, is there a chance that we might yet see more Marvel One-Shots, to help tie everything together? Eric Pearson says it’s a possibility, and that he has plenty of material available for use.

“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!’”

While Marvel Studios may need to consider the allocation of resources – given that its theatrical release slate has kicked into high gear in recent years – the idea that Marvel One-Shots might one day return will certainly be exciting news for fans. As always, watch this space for more.