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More Comic-Con 2013
JULY 17, 2013 1:22 PM
Marvel One-Shots: Might ‘Agent Carter’ clear
way for Ms. Marvel, Loki, young Nick Fury,
or Black Panther?
By Anthony Breznican
The Marvel One-Shots keep doubling down.
Last week, EW debuted the first look at Agent
Carter , a new short starring Hayley Atwell that
focuses on Captain America ’s Peggy Carter as
she makes the post-WWII transition into a chief
operative for S.H.I.E.L.D.
When it debuts at Comic-Con this Friday night,
fans will see a big leap forward in scale and
style for the short-film series, just like last
year’s Item 47 , about a down-on-their-luck
couple (Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Bradford) who
go on a robbery spree after activating one of
the alien guns from The Avengers .
So where does the One-Shot series go from
Marvel co-president Louis D’Esposito, who
directed both Item 47 and Agent Carter,
offered some insight by way of what almost
was: a stand-alone Loki short, a young Nick
Fury story, a visit to Black Panther’s Wakanda,
and maybe (someday) a Ms. Marvel or Black
The big question every fan asks is: When will
the One-Shots start featuring superheroes?
As the series builds, Marvel has done its best to
keep expectations in check, trying to avoid
leaping in too soon with its established
“We would love to, but it’s difficult because
there’s a cost to that," explains D’Esposito. “If
Iron Man is flying around doing something,
that very costly. And first of all, what’s the
story? Is it important that that superhero is in
The point of the One-Shots, which accompany
Marvel’s feature films as extra features on their
Blu-ray releases, is to give fans something
different. If they already have a full-length Iron
Man film, why make a short one?
“I’ve been asked many times too, would you
introduce new characters?" D’Esposito says.
“That even proves to be very difficult, just from
a cost perspective. What does the costume look
like? Who is the actor playing it? A lot of R&D
goes into it. We have a great concept
department here, a visual development
department, and it takes time."
One reason Marvel has been hesitant to reach
too far into its character shelf is because
committing to those casting and a costume
decisions in a short-film could tie the hands of
any director who ends up using those heroes in
But he acknowledges: they’re getting closer.
“We are," D’Esposito says. “And I keep saying it:
set the bar higher, let’s try it."
Ms. Marvel and Loki - two One-Shot
When it comes to using a superhero in a One-
Shot, D’Esposito offers this as a for-instance, a
personal favorite: Ms. Marvel, a.k.a. Captain
Marvel, a human hybrid who gets her powers
when an explosion infuses her with extra-
terrestrial DNA from the comic-book universe’s
“Let’s just say I knew I was going to direct
Captain Marvel [as a feature], right? And we
knew who was going to play her," D’Esposito
says. That would make it easy to introduce her
first in a One-Shot. “But that’s a plan that
requires a lot of coordination. And I don’t
know if really we … if I’ve been thinking that
far ahead. It’s difficult enough to find
something that’s enjoyable, that we can tell
with the budget limitations and in the time we
have. Introducing a lot of complicated variables
might weaken that."
Better not to do it, he reasons, than reach too
far, too soon, and do it badly.
Budget and time are the primary restrictions.
But Marvel is still dreaming big.
“I’m not gonna lie, when we were developing
these [One-Shot] stories I was trying to develop
a Loki story," D’Esposito says. “And is he on
The trouble with that is Thor’s celestial realm is
a major visual effects challenge. “Being on
Asgard is very difficult for us to do in a short.
It’s just impossible for us cost wise," D’Esposito
says. “The short would be 30 seconds, and it’s
over. One shot of Loki on Asgard."
That’s not what “one-shot” is supposed to
Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos, or Black
“We also thought about potentially … let’s say a
young Nick Fury with Dum Dum Dugan,"
D’Esposito says. “Or a Black Panther short,
maybe, in that [One-Shot format.]"
Both of those projects would make comic fans
squee: Dum Dum Dugan (the bowler-hat-
wearing mustachioed strong man played by
Neal McDonough in 2011’s Captain America )
has long fought alongside Fury in the Howling
Commandos, featured in books dating from the
early ‘60s up to the present day.
And Black Panther , the first black superhero, is
another character many fans are dying to see
on the big screen (and remains a real
possibility for Marvel’s Phase 3. ) But
introducing him in a short becomes a question
of resources: how do you show his fictional
African nation of Wakanda on the budget for a
DVD extra? That aside, just casting an actor
with the necessary badassery for the part
would be tough for a short.
“It’s very complicated to do: who plays those
characters? And designing the costume, getting
it going … We tried," D’Esposito says. “We were
there in development, and we tried, but they
were very difficult for all the reasons I gave.
And we don’t want to do something that’s half
baked because it’s not good for us and it’s not
good for our fans."
But fans can take heart: Agent Carter was also
once an idea that was deemed too big for the
One-Shot series, as well.
Now it’s a reality.
Agent Carter vs. the glass ceiling
Marvel considered making Agent Carter earlier
in the One-Shot series, but when Captain
America came out in 2011 the shorts weren’t
expansive enough, and last year, Item 47
simply fit better as an addendum to The
Agent Carter finally got the go-ahead because it
was a good way to bridge Iron Man 3 and the
upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Atwell was available to do it, it incorporated an
established character from the comic books
who had already been depicted in a film.
It helped the small budget that some of the
effects shots depicting New York in the 1940s
were already made for Captain America . That
allowed D’Esposito and crew to focus their
resources on the fight sequences and hiring
actors such as Dominic Cooper (reprising his
role as Tony Stark’s industrialist father Howard
Stark) and The West Wing ’s Bradley Whitford
(playing Carter’s chauvinist boss.)
Agent Carter also gives the Marvel universe a
dose of much needed girl-power. If fans who
see it in Comic-Con on Friday react favorably,
it’s likely to lead to more female heroes on the
“In Item 47 , I would say the protagonist is
Lizzy Caplan, and obviously in Agent Carter it’s
Hayley. They’re good stories, and they do show
female characters and maybe we can do a
feature film one day," D’Esposito says. “Ms.
Marvel , I’ve already mentioned, is one of my
favorites. I would love to do it. It’s difficult
because we have a limited the bandwidth and
produce two films a year. We have a few
successful franchises, so how do we introduce
more? This is a way."
Best case scenario …?
“You know, maybe people see this and they say,
‘I love Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter,' and
maybe we have to do Ms. Marvel, or give
Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow her own
film," D’Esposito says. “So, of course we think
about that. And when we see the success of it
and how people react, it really reinforces that."
For those in Comic-Con hoping to catch a 7
p.m. screening of Agent Carter , stop by the
Marvel booth for tickets.
If you want to brave the stand-by line: Arrive
early to Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15, 701 5th
Ave San Diego, CA 92101
The short will go wide Sept. 24 on the Iron
Man 3 Blu-ray set.
"There are known knowns. These are
things we know that we know. There
are known unknowns. That is to say,
there are things that we know we
don't know. But there are also
unknown knowns. There are things
we know that we don't know we know."
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