May 092015
  May 9, 2015


The Marvel One-Shots were a fantastic idea in a long list of fantastic ideas from the Marvel Cinematic Universe team: shorts films that could tell smaller stories, expand on concepts from the features, introduce or flesh out characters, and fill in missing pieces. This brilliant idea was followed by a horrible one: stop making the One-shots. It isn’t clear why they cut them off after five when they paid such rich dividends. I would assume it was a financial matter, but it is difficult to imagine they couldn’t come up with the cash for a few more shorts.

The One-Shots were distributed on blu-rays of MCU films (not the ones that the shorts were related to–for example, Agent Carter, which flows straight from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, was on the Iron Man 3 blu-ray). Since the One-Shots were canceled, Marvel has produced other shorts and I’ll be including those in my rankings.

Like their larger cinematic cousins, the MCU One-Shots are never bad. Unlike them, they never really soar. But if you like The Avengers, you need to see them. (The videos are what I found online, so not in perfect shape.)


#7 WHIH Newsfront (2015/2016)

A newscast discusses the wrong-doings of Scott Lang and the collateral damage when the Avengers intervene.

Newsfront is a series of short videos (9 and counting) released online, each between 1 and 3 minutes, advertising upcoming features. Each is a news segment discussing some aspect of an upcoming film–either Ant Man or Civil War so far–within its fictional setting. Several discuss Scott Lang’s prison record while others focus on who should pay for all the property destruction when superheros get involved and if they should be under government control. Unlike the One-Shots, they do not add anything you couldn’t get from the films. And also unlike the One-Shots, they are skip-able. They would be unpleasant to watch if they weren’t so short, assuming you are not entertained by news commentators arguing.


#6 Team Thor (2016/2017)

Thor is hanging out in Australia during the events of Civil War.

Not officially Marvel One-Shots, the two Team Thor shorts are plotless jokes. The first has Thor unhappy that neither Tony nor Steve have contacted him to be part of their team during Civil War, as well as pointing out what a bad roommate Thor would be. The second doubles down on how bad he would be to live with.  Bruce Banner makes a cameo in the first. They are funny, dealing with the Geek-only question of why some of the Avengers were missing during Civil War. I doubt if Team Thor is intended to be canon.


#5 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer (2011)

Agent Coulson stops for gas and snacks at a convenience store on his way to New Mexico (for the events in the film Thor) right before two robbers attempt to hold up the place.

Marvel realized that Coulson’s death in The Avengers would be more meaningful if we got to see a bit more of him, so two shorts were green lit. This is the bigger of the two, using most of the budget intended for both films. The idea is simple: show how cool Coulson is in a non-super setting. Running just over 4 minutes, there’s not a lot here, but it does a good job of expanding the character, giving the audience more reason to grieve later.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s… by eks-diel


#4 The Consultant (2011)

Agent Coulson and Agent Sitwell must find a way to get around an order to have The Abomination released and put on the Avengers roster.

With most of the money spent on A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer, all they could afford was to shoot two people sitting and then add in some previous footage. But when the two people sitting are Clark Gregg and Maximiliano Hernández, it is already entertaining. Take the footage from the end of The Incredible Hulk, and make that footage much more meaningful (and sensical: now there is a reason for Tony Stark to show up at a random bar and run into General Ross), and you have a nice little short.

Again, the point of the short was to add a little more about Coulson so as to up the stakes for The Avengers, and it does that quite well.

Marvel One-Shot – The Consultant (Full Version… by Lyricis


#3 All Hail the King (2014)

A documentary filmmaker comes to interview Trevor Slattery, who has found prison life comfortable surrounded by his many fans.

I hate putting this one in the middle since it is the best of the One-Shots in almost every way, but “almost” is an important word. It is certainly the funniest. Ben Kingsley is in great form, bringing Trevor to life more here than he did in Iron Man 3. His body guard/butler is likable and we even get an extended cameo from Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, who happens to share a jail block. It all works great, till the end. In a story structure perspective, Trevor’s arc had a reasonable end at the conclusion of Iron Man 3, and his arc has a perfect ending at the beginning of this short. The ending of the short destroys Trevor’s ending—his story is now uncertain, but probably bleak (and certainly not the best end to his body guard for a comedy short). If Marvel changes its corporate mind and makes an “All Hail the King 2” where things work out for Trevor, I’ll raise this rating.


#2 Item 47 (2012)

A young couple find a Chitauri weapon after the events of The Avengers and go on a crime spree till S.H.I.E.L.D. shows up.

Item 47 served two purposes. First, it gave agent Sitwell more screen time so his betrayal in Captain America: The Winter Soldier would have more meaning. Really, it gave him almost all of his screen time. You have to see this for there to be any weight to his appearance in Cap 2. It helps that he’s amusing here, as is the entire short.

Second, it acted as a pilot for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I have to wonder if the TV show, which has been striving for mediocrity, would not have been better if it matched the lighter tone of this One-Shot.


#1 Agent Carter (2013)

With Captain America gone and the war over, Agent Peggy Carter finds herself in a frustratingly meaningless job where her sexist boss won’t let her out in the field, until the phone rings when she’s alone in the office.

Now this is what a short film should be. When it’s over you feel you’ve gotten as much as a feature. Captain America: The First Avenger did not give us a complete story for Peggy Carter. This short finishes her story beautifully. It also acted as a pilot for the TV series. Unfortunately, the series did not rise to the level of this short, doing less in three and a half hours than this did in fifteen minutes. Worse, the series contradicted the One-shot. Since only one can exist, I’ll go with the One-Shot.

Marvel One Shot – Agent Carter 2013 from Golic productions on Vimeo.