Marvel Studios is entering a brand new territory. They are making use of Walt Disney’s brand new streaming service and producing unique mini-series featuring MCU characters. This is a bold move for the studio. They are entering a new playing field and are giving smaller characters a time to shine. Loki and Scarlet Witch were already confirmed to get their own mini-series with movie-like production budgets. This is great for fans of the films and is Disney’s best strategy to really sell their streaming service. Yet, as great it is for fans, it does push the Marvel TV debate once again. We have so many series that take place within the MCU but never had a true crossover with the films. These mini-series might be the last nail in the coffin for the Marvel TV shows to truly be aknowledge by the film’s side of the universe. It does rekindle the question if the Marvel TV shows are still considered canon but also opens up a whole new possibility for both companies.
Jeph Loeb has worked quite a lot to establish the various TV shows inspired by Marvel characters. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter had the closest connection to the films. In a way, they were based on the same concept as is the new mini-series for the streaming service. Both shows were started with a film character being the main focus. Peggy Carter continued her life after Rogers crashed the HYDRA jet while Agent Coulson was resurrected for his very own show. It was not until the Netflix shows they started using brand new characters as the focus of the show that has yet to crossover. Naturally, many hoped to see such iconic characters like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage or Iron Fist to appear in the films in some form or another. There was a short time when the Russo’s actually considered adding TV characters to Avengers: Infinity War but they had a hard time finding a perfect way to integrate them. Agent Carter’s ties to Captain America helped here appear throughout that franchise for a few cameos.
There is a chance that we might finally get the long-awaited crossover in the upcoming film Captain Marvel. Coulson finally returns to the silver screen since his death in The Avengers. It has been almost seven years since he returned to the cinema and this film takes place in the past before the events of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. took place. There is finally a chance to create a direct connection to the show’s continuity and mythology. Coulson is resurrected through the use of Kree blood, which is a perfect tie-in to Carol Danvers bringing the Kree-Skrull war to earth. They could bring in other veteran S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that appeared in the show in small cameos, most notably one of the show’s main cast, Ming-Na Wen‘s Melinda May. There sadly is also the possibility that Coulson’s appearance may also contradict the entire show, which makes us wonder if Jeph Loeb and Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige have discussed this film’s influence. As we are moving towards a more time-jumping MCU, especially with rumors that the new Black Widow film may take place in the past, the loose connections might be challenged.
We also have to consider that Marvel TV’s choice when it comes to their shows is limited by what characters Marvel Studios does not want to use in the near future. One notable inclusion was that of Ghost Rider when he appeared in SHIELD‘s fourth season. The character has quite a past on the silver screen but Marvel Studios did not have any immediate plans for him so Loeb took the chance to include him in one of the show’s best seasons. They have been expanding their shows with new characters like Cloak & Dagger and The Punisher but there haven’t been many hints at any new shows being established. There were rumors that characters like Moon Knight or Ms. Marvel could be getting their own shows, but Feige has pointed to them being characters that Marvel Studios is keeping for later. The MCU was established by Marvel Studios and Feige has the last say what character Marvel TV can use.
This opens up a large can of worms. If Marvel Studios starts producing TV shows or mini-series through the Disney streaming service, they might start taking away more rights from the TV division. Marvel Studios is freed by Marvel mandates set by the CEO Ike Perlmutter, who was one of the driving forces behind the rushed production of Inhumans. Now, they are pretty much “invading” the TV divisions department and restricting them even more. It does not mean they do not work with each other at all, as we have seen SHIELD utilize assets from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which they got with the division. It is an awkward position for all parties to be involved with but there is also a lot of internal politics we, as fans, are not aware of. It is still unsure if the already mentioned 10-episode show that will premiere on the Disney streaming service is the before-mentioned Marvel Studios productions, as those are pointed to be between 6 to 8 episodes long. Maybe there is some form of cooperation happening behind-the-scenes but as they are entering a new phase with Marvel Studios-produced series, they might want to keep more characters to themselves and restrict what Marvel TV can use.
A New Hope
Marvel Studios can do whatever they want with the characters they use and it makes sense for them to further explore minor characters through mini-series. It also helps them tell stories they could not otherwise, as they might not be able to carry a film on their own. As such, they are also not dependent on the key target demographic that the films tend to focus on. People with the subscription can watch it at their own pace and Feige is less restricted with reaching a specific target demographic. He has more creative freedom with a show and it’s connections to the overall universe. It was confirmed that these shows can take place before the infamous snap from Infinity War and as such, he can expand the universe’s lore and mythology from any standpoint. The focus seems to be on already established characters, such as the already confirmed Loki and Scarlet Witch. We could see shows featuring the Winter Soldier while he was still brainwashed or even what Rhodey was up to during the events of The Avengers. Maybe we could get a look at Rocket’s life before he met the other Guardians. Hell, they could finally turn the comic storyline known as Fury’s Big Week into a show with some added hints at his past with Captain Marvel. The existing characters alone have enough potential for their own storylines.
Marvel Studios has so many possibilities in front of them with the Disney streaming service but it also takes away a lot of restrictions. A major reason why TV show characters never appeared in the films is that it was difficult for the filmmakers to find a good way to integrate them. Just having Daredevil randomly appear out of nowhere may raise more questions than it needs to as there isn’t enough time to introduce the character in a limited time frame alongside the main storyline. As such, Marvel Studios is running out of excuses as they are giving us shows that could cross over. We could see an on-going show featuring Maria Hill as she researches various happenings around the world. Maybe we get the return of Batroc the Leaper and Crossbone, who end up getting a job working for the Kingpin. They should start with already established characters to test the waters but they kind of lose the excuse not to connect to the other shows. There is a high chance that the various Marvel TV shows will be featured on the streaming service and could be used to help push these new shows. At this point, anything is possible and hopefully the old “It’s All Connected” MCU tagline might finally ring true.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think this spells the end of the Marvel TV shows? Could it help push for an actual crossover?