Two and a half years after the famous Marvel Studios/Disney+ Super Bowl spot, it is 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 gain promotions, and there is even a former Avenger turned genocidal witch. Kevin Feige and co. have pushed the limits on the types of stories they can tell.
And after the Werewolf By Night trailer at D23 Expo, they may have just added another tool to their toolbox. Or is this the evolution of short-form stories in the MCU?
A Marvel Studios Presentation
Werewolf By Night is a horror classic made in modern times to feature one of the first characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe spooky sector. A true monster movie vibe for a true monster project. Except this will not be hitting theaters and it will not be streaming on Disney+ week after week.
Werewolf By Night will instead be the first-ever Marvel Studios Special Presentation.
Surely not as long as a feature-length film. Most likely not as short as the five-minute episodes of I Am Groot! Somewhere in between seems like the best bet for this new storytelling tool at Marvel Studios.
This will be the first time a new character is being introduced outside of a movie or series in the MCU. However, this is not the first time that the red brand has launched short-form content.
Marvel One Shots
Since the earliest days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there were the Marvel Studios One Shots. A series of short-form stories told in the background of the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Consultant, A Funny Thing 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 in the gaps between movies featuring the supplemental characters of various franchises.
Team Thor Part 1 & 2 and Team Darryl performed in similar roles but featured the God of Thunder himself.
While there has not been a Marvel Studios One Shot since 2017, they still hold weight. Recently being added to Disney+, both Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Thor: Love & Thunder featured characters who were last seen in a One Shot (Trevor Slattery and Darryl, respectively).
Hall of Fame Marvel Studios Producer Louis D'Esposito stated in the book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making Of The Marvel Cinematic Universe that they were "still working on One Shots" and are trying to pick their spots for the best opportunities to fill in the gaps.
But is this new announcement of A Marvel Studios Presentation an additional short-form outlet? Or is this the evolution of what was once the Marvel Studios One Shot?
The Many Faces Of Marvel Studios
Option A is that Marvel Studios takes the One Shot and expands it to a Special Presentation. A way to make these gap projects feel more important to the ever-evolving MCU timeline.
This would not be the first time Feige and Co. made this type of distribution change without an official announcement.
When Phase 4 was announced, What If..? sat right alongside the slate's biggest movies and streaming series. Breeding the narrative that the animated content from Marvel Studios follows the same cannon as the live-action projects.
At SDCC 2022, the animation wing of Marvel Studios separated itself. All animated projects in the works were announced and showcased on a separate day. And the logos for upcoming shows like Spider-Man: Freshman Year were not featured on the official Phase 5 Slate.
So presumingly, they decided to divide their forces and make animation and live-action their own thing.
Other confirmed projects not on the official Phase 5 slate? Werewolf By Night and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. Both are labeled as Marvel Studios Special Presentations.
Option B is that One Shots and Special Presentations will coexist to tell shorter stories within the MCU. This is the more likely option as One Shots traditionally feature the supporting cast of the universe's biggest franchises.
Both Werewolf By Night and the Guardians Holiday Special are big pieces in the narrative. If for nothing else, the introduction and re-introduction of big-name players.
If that is the case, taking a step back paints an incredible picture of all of the different stories Marvel Studios can tell between theaters and Disney+.
Blockbuster films, Emmy-worthy streaming series, animated content, one-shot shorts, special presentation features, documentary-style looks behind the scenes (Marvel Studios Assembled), and even expertly packaged recap preludes before big projects (Marvel Studios Legends).
There is no limit to the types of stories Marvel Studios is willing to tell, and as the Multiverse Saga keeps moving along, there is a feeling that there is more to come from the Earth's Mightiest Movie Universe.