Occasionally, a comic book is released that doesn’t have a series to call its own. Rather than awkwardly shoehorning it in, it’s called a one-shot, which can either supplement another story, or tell its own tale. In the same spirit, Marvel Studios produced a few sort films exclusively for their DVD/Blu-Ray releases, also called one-shots. At first, the one-shots were fun ways to show a few background events not seen in the full length films. Instead, they quickly became a way to pilot other ideas.
As of this writing, five one-shots have been released, with their future currently a little murky. The first was called ‘The Consultant,’ appearing on the home release of Thor. This references the Easter egg from The Incredible Hulk, where Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) came to talk to General Ross at the bar. This was short (about 4 minutes), but a lot of fun. I think this was a way to clean up that scene, making it fall in line with Iron Man 2, and they probably didn’t know where they were going yet.
The second, ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer,‘ came with Captain America: The First Avenger. Clark Gregg returned as Agent Coulson, showing him make a quick stop between Iron Man 2 and Thor. This cemented Coulson’s role as a badass. Another 4 minute run time, but it didn’t need to be any longer.
With the third one-shot, ‘Item 47,’ featured with The Avengers, things changed. The short was three times longer than the previous two, clocking in at 12 minutes. This featured Jesse Bradford and Lizzy Caplan as Bennie and Claire, a couple who found a Chitauri gun, left over from the invasion. They used the weapon to rob banks, forcing two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to retrieve it. This was ultimately a pilot for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show. It felt a little disconnected as the only familiar face was Agent Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández). Not bad, but lacked a bit of the Marvel flair.
Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) from Captain America returned in Agent Carter, paired with Iron Man 3. Taking place one year after the events of Cap, Peggy embarks on her first S.H.I.E.L.D. mission amidst blatant sexism. This was another pilot. Peggy Carter, or whatever it will be called, will air during the mid-season break of the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Atwell was amazing as Carter and I’m glad they found a way to bring her back. This ended with a fantastic joke featuring Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) and Dum Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough).
Finally, there’s ‘All Hail the King‘ released with Thor: The Dark World, easily the best of the five. This is wholly original, not serving as a background bridge or a pilot (yet). Ben Kingsley returns as Trever Slattery from Iron Man 3, now famous among his fellow inmates. From the style to the story, everything about this was a blast. The ending hinted at a possible future appearance that I’d love to see since Marvel has grown bolder.
The Marvel One-Shots were an interesting experiment. Regardless of the purpose, they were still entertaining. I recommend them all, though if I had to chose, make a point to watch ‘All Hail the King.’ Nothing has been announced for the Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy releases, making the future of the line unclear. Hopefully, they’ll continue to produce them, and have fun. What better vehicle to introduce Squirrel Girl?
What was your favorite one-shot? Didn’t know they existed? Comment below!