Marvel can tout the innovation and success of its interconnected cinematic universe, but on the television front, things aren’t going quite so well.
At the recent Wizard World convention stop in Des Moines, Iowa, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. lead Chloe Bennett told Bleeding Cool that Marvel “doesn’t seem to care” about its primetime series that airs on ABC. “People who make movies for Marvel, why don’t you acknowledge what happens on our show? Why don’t you guys go ask them that? Cause they don’t seem to care!”
While her remarks may seem harsh, her point was just proven: ABC just announced that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been moved to a later, historically difficult time slot, Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. EST.
“I would love [to be in the movies],” added Bennet. “The Marvel Cinematic Universe loves to pretend that everything is connected, but then they don’t acknowledge our show at all. So, I would love to do that, but they don’t seem too keen on that idea.”
The gulf between Marvel’s movies and its TV shows appears to widen by the day. While the TV shows react to the movies — this week, the show addressed the Sokovia Accords introduced in Captain America: Civil War — the movies have mostly ignored Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson has been dead to the movies since 2012’s The Avengers despite being revived in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In the movies, S.H.I.E.L.D. is defunct while in the series, it now works (to quote Coulson) “in the shadows.”
Most tellingly, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduced a major paradigm shift at the end of Season 2: contaminated oceans. Supposedly, contact with fish oils could awaken in any person Inhuman superpowers, which would be a big deal for the Avengers. Right? But as HitFix discovered, the filmmakers behind Captain America: Civil War had zero clue about anything from the TV show.
Is Marvel slowly disengaging from television? Last week, ABC cancelled the cult-favorite Agent Carter starring Hayley Attwell, and execs decided to not move ahead with the spin-off show, Mockingbird: Most Wanted. Today, the move to a time slot past primetime for the family-oriented Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. feels like a move by Marvel to slowly bury its flagship TV show. Sure, the network says it’s so they can try out some darker material, but this isn’t an era when primetime TV is filled with Andy Griffith knockoffs.
It’s widely known Marvel Studios, proprietors of The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain America: Civil War has beef with Marvel TV, which is the force behind shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Netflix series like Jessica Jones. While the continuity occupies the same universe, the narrative relationship has always been top-down. Jessica Jones and her ilk acknowledge the Avengers and the Battle of New York, but the sky-high Avengers are oblivious to blind Midtown lawyers and Inhumans.
And it’s not like Marvel Studios is doing this to stick to any sort of comics accuracy. In the comics, characters like Daredevil and Punisher participated in Captain America and Iron Man’s civil war and other cosmic or paranormal adventures like in Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War. By not crossing film and TV over, they’re actually making their movies less accurate.
For most fans, the interconnected Marvel Universe feels like a dream come true. The promise of Marvel’s Infinity War two-parters (final title TBD) means the proliferation of superheroes promises a massive team-up that could truly bring the pages of comics to life. Unfortunately, it’s slowly looking like Marvel’s own internal civil war is keeping things separate and barely assembled.