Marvel Muscles Into Pixar’s Territory? Oh Dear

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If Marvel really is planning to increase the speed of introducing its new characters via shorts accompanying main features, I have to say: Wow, that Disney-ization took quicker than I’d been expecting.

For those coming in late to the rumor, it’s been rumored for a few months that Marvel and Disney were considering a larger production slate than the current one-or-two-movies-a-year it’s been pushing out since Iron Man in 2008; at first, the rumor was that Disney/Marvel were considering lower budget, more experimental full-length features, and then, earlier this week, a new take appeared via Latino Review:

Got a scoop from a well trusted source that Marvel/Disney are looking at doing 10 minute short films in front of their feature length movies that will introduce secondary characters like Black Panther, Luke Cage, Dr. Strange, etc.

My first response: Well, that makes some sense, I guess. After all, the short accompanying the main feature superhero shtick worked well when DC tried it with the DC Showcase: The Spectre short accompanying their Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths animated DVD release earlier this year.

My second response: Wait, that’s totally Pixar’s thing.

Now, I loves me some Pixar, as all good people do. And, often, the shorts that accompany the movies on theatrical and DVD release are the most enjoyable parts of each movie, succinct and sweet and short enough to get in there, do whatever they need to and get out as quickly as possible. Yes, other studios – mostly, if not exclusively, animation studios – produce shorts as well, but it’s Pixar who have resurrected the form and made it their own. And, I hope, it’s Pixar that’ll try and talk Marvel out of following in their footsteps.

Shorts are great for comedy. It forces an economy of storytelling that pares everything down to the necessities and essence of the joke, instead of stretching things out and potentially killing the funny through repetition or lack of timing… But ten minutes strikes me as being way too short to do anything approaching a successful dramatic introduction to a character beyond visual tease or surface glamour and catchphrase. If the rumored Marvel shorts were starring, say, characters we’ve already seen in Iron Man or whatever, then that’d be one thing, but trying to break characters to an all-new audience? Ten minutes feels more like an elongated trailer for an non-existent project than a short film in and of itself.

Maybe I’ll be wrong, of course; maybe there’s a secret formula being worked out right now to supercompress the essence of an Iron Fist or a Nova or Hellcat into a ten minute short than also has a story with a beginning, middle and end – If Pixar are doing any synergistic consultation, I’m sure they’d be able to help with that – but I can’t shake the feeling that, if true, this move will result in lots of cool-looking but empty shorts that’ll make the Marvel Universe seem more generic than it really is.

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