Two and a half years after the famous Marvel Studios/Disney+ Super Bowl spot, it’s safe to say the universe has expanded. Seven live-action series, six movies and two animated series later and Phase 4 has grown the Marvel Cinematic Universe exponentially.
New faces join the roster, returning characters get promotions, and there’s even a former Avenger turned genocidal witch. Kevin Feige and co. have pushed the boundaries of the kind of stories they can tell.
And after the Werewolf at night trailer at D23 Expo, they may have just added another tool to their toolbox. Or is this the evolution of short stories in the MCU?
A presentation from Marvel Studios
Werewolf at night is a horror classic made in modern times featuring one of the first characters in the haunted sector of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A real monster movie vibe for a real monster project. Except this won’t hit theaters and won’t be streamed week after week on Disney+.
Werewolf at night will instead be Marvel Studios’ first-ever special presentation.
Certainly not as long as a feature film. Probably not as short as the five minute episodes of I am tall! Somewhere in between seems like the best bet for this new storytelling tool at Marvel Studios.
This is the first time a new character is introduced outside of a movie or series in the MCU. However, this isn’t the first time the red brand has launched short content.
Marvel One Shots
Since the earliest days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there have been the Marvel Studios One Shots. A series of short stories told against the backdrop of the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The advisor, something funny happened on the way to Thor’s Hammer, Item 47, Agent Carter and All Hail The King was all Marvel One Shots designed to fill the gaps between films with the additional characters from different franchises.
Team Thor Part 1 & 2 and Team Darryl performed in similar roles but featured the God of Thunder himself.
While there hasn’t been a Marvel Studios One Shot since 2017, they still hold weight. Recently added to Disney+, both Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Thor: Love & Thunder featured characters last seen in a One Shot (Trevor Slattery and Darryl, respectively).
Hall of Fame Marvel Studios Producer Louis D’Esposito Mentioned in the Book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making Of The Marvel Cinematic Universe that they were”still working on One Shots” and try to pick their spots for the best chances to fill the gaps.
But is this new announcement from A Marvel Studios Presentation an extra short outlet? Or is this the evolution of what was once the Marvel Studios One Shot?
The Many Faces of Marvel Studios
Option A is for Marvel Studios to take the One Shot and expand it into a special presentation. One way to make these gap projects more important to the ever-evolving MCU timeline.
This wouldn’t be the first time Feige and Co. make these kinds of distribution changes without an official announcement.
When phase 4 was announced, What if..? sat next to the slate’s biggest movies and streaming series. Bringing forth the story that Marvel Studios animated content follows the same gun as the live action projects.
At SDCC 2022, the Marvel Studios animation wing split. All animated projects in the making were announced and showcased on a separate day. And the logos for upcoming shows like Spider-Man: Freshman Year were not on the official Phase 5 Slate.
So presumably they decided to split their forces and make animation and live-action their own thing.
Other confirmed projects not on the official Phase 5 slate? Werewolf at night and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. Both are referred to as Marvel Studios Special Presentations.
Option B is that One Shots and Special Presentations will co-exist to tell shorter stories within the MCU. This is the most likely option, as One Shots has traditionally featured the supporting cast of the universe’s biggest franchises.
Both Werewolf at night and the Holiday Special for Guardians are major parts of the story. If for nothing else, the introduction and reintroduction of big names.
If so, stepping back gives an incredible view of all the different stories Marvel Studios can tell between theaters and Disney+.
Blockbuster movies, Emmy-worthy streaming series, animated content, one-shot shorts, special presentation features, documentary-style behind-the-scenes looks (Marvel Studios assembled), and even expertly packaged summary preludes for major projects (Marvel Studios legends).
There’s no limit to the kinds of stories Marvel Studios wants to tell, and as the Multiverse Saga continues, there’s a sense that there’s more to come from Earth’s mightiest movie universe.