After Werewolf By Night and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, Marvel Studios has a new weapon in its arsenal of specials, and they’re going to use it.
Specials are a pseudo-evolution of the Marvel One-Shots from the earlier days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What used to be 15(ish)-minute one-off stories filling the gaps of lower-level MCU players have now become 45(ish) minute TV movies that have a real impact on the world’s largest cinematic universe.
Two submissions in and there are already so many fans who have learned about this new storytelling medium for the red brand and are clamoring for more.
Werewolf By Night introduces a new character and corner of the MCU in a hyper-stylized horror noir fashion. The Guardians Holiday Special acts as a precursor to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in a unique Christmas special way.
So, which characters will receive the special presentation treatment in Phases 5 and 6? And how will these stories be told?
Few Marvel Comics characters have had their name chanted by die-hard Marvel fans more than Nova. The Human Rocket is a pillar in the cosmic arena of the Marvel Universe and a perfect fit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The question has always been how and why. Nova Corp and Xandar were introduced way back in 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova seemed a prime candidate to follow. Especially with the events in Avengers: Infinity War destroying Xandar.
A Marvel Studios special presentation in a cosmic-military movie format introducing Richard Rider and/or Sam Alexander would be a win for everyone.
2.) Silver Surfer
With so much time spent in the cosmic corner of the MCU, the Silver Surfer might be the most significant omission from the Infinity Saga roster. Obviously the rights deal with 20th Century Fox is the main reason, but the light is now green and the Herald of Galactus is coming!
Silver Surfer seems along the lines of Werewolf By Night as a character that needs a dedicated and contained origin story before putting him into a feature film project. 45 minutes off X filesRoman-style adventure explaining the origins of Norrin Radd would put him in a prime position to play an important role in MCU stories for years to come.
3.) Werewolf By Night 2 / Man-Thing
Speaking of the maiden special presentation, they have to run it back, right? Werewolf By Night was a hit across the board, showcasing the boldness, creativity and utilitarian benefit of these specialties and what they can do to introduce new characters.
Now both Werewolf and Man-Thing are in prime position to take advantage of what these special introductions can do for existing characters – one-off stories that set them up for a future project. The supernatural corner of the MCU is ready to get weird, and special presentations are the place to do it.
4.) Ghost Rider
Marvel Studios is one of the biggest film studios of all time. In today’s cinema landscape, it is not a good use of resources to make a full-length feature film in the style of an action film from the 80s… but 45 minutes?
Ghost Rider is the perfect candidate to be surrounded by huge explosions, electric guitars and perfectly cheesy one-liners. James Cameron is not a big fan of Marvel movies, but just wait until they pay tribute Terminator 2 with a potential Ghost Rider special presentation.
5.) Ten rings
One thing Marvel Studios may be looking to do going forward is converting projects that were previously slated to be Disney+ series into specials. This is a great way to highlight characters that may not get attention for 6+ weeks, but still have a story to tell.
A leading candidate for that plan is Shang-Chi’s Xu Xialing and the Ten Rings. Teased in the post-credits scene to Shang Chi, The Ten Rings will play an important role in the MCU going forward, and a special presentation could be the perfect cost/benefit way to show that.
The five pitches above are the best bets for Marvel Studios’ use of this new storytelling format. Based on rumors, reports and the perceived game plan, they are the leaders in the clubhouse for the MCU’s next specials.
That doesn’t mean fans can’t do what fans do best and speculate on other projects that fit the special presentation format.
The Wong-CU is in full swing and Benedict Wong’s character is quickly becoming one of the most prominent supporting characters since Agent Coulson. Wong appeared in five different Phase 4 projects, but has no clear path into Phases 5 and 6, prior to the announcement of Doctor Strange 3.
Give the people what they want, more Wong!
Howard The Duck
An early favorite for special presentations is a character who has already appeared in 4 MCU projects across the Infinity and Multiverse Sagas. Howard The Duck, voiced by Seth Green, is a comic darling sure to provide an entertaining otherworldly look into the MCU.
Heroes for hire
While the faces of the Marvel Netflix series Daredevil & Kingpin have already made their impact on the wider MCU in Phase 4, the rest of the Netflix roster is still up in the air.
If the plan is to bring back Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Finn Jones, and Jon Bernthal as Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Punisher, respectively, a special presentation might be the most effective way to bring them on board.
An early Disney+ reputation was a series dedicated to Black panther outstanding Okoye with Ryan Coogler reported to lead several Wakanda-themed streaming projects. After her demotion/promotion to Midnight Angel in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, a special presentation is a great way to fill in the gaps in that plot line.
He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere! HERCULES!
Brett Goldstein made his MCU debut in the post-credits scene Thor: Love and Thunder as the son of Zeus. He’s apparently on a mission to hunt down Thor, but a special presentation may take a step back and discover the origins of one of the most iconic figures in all of literature.
Dane Whitman was introduced in Eternals, and much like Hercules and Xu Xialing, his future was teased in the post-credits scene. Blade arrives and seemingly recruits him into some kind of Midnight Sons faction while giving a warning regarding Ebony Blade.
With Werewolf By Night in the books, the supernatural branches of the MCU may live on in special presentations that give characters before some kind of team-up movie.
Another post-credit candidate for a special presentation is Harry Styles’ Starfox. Also introduced in Eternals, this is a chance to explore the brother of Thanos in the MCU and what his presence means for the cosmic corner. This is where the budget comes into play as the One Direction veteran can’t come cheap, but if there’s an opportunity to make Harry Styles a prominent player on the roster, Marvel Studios is likely to take it.
Guardians Holiday Special 2
Finally, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special post-credits scene teased a potential sequel to the festive special. Everything is on hold until we learn the fate of The Guardians Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The core cast is expected to say goodbye to some extent, but whichever Guardians remain could be in line for another special presentation in the future.
There are limitless possibilities for world building, character development and creative freedom in Marvel Studios Special Presentations. While the series will remain an important part of the MCU puzzle, expect more and more of these one-off stories to be told.
The trick will be deciding which characters and which stories are best suited for this mini-movie treatment.