It’s been a banner year for Marvel Studios, following the success of Captain America: Civil War, Daredevil Season 2, and Jessica Jones on Netflix. But Marvel’s ABC television offerings were a little less consistent — and the network says it might be headed in another direction with future shows.
The ABC-Marvel partnership struggled a little this year: Agent Carter, a period spin-off starring Hayley Atwell, was canceled despite passionate fan support, while another spin-off Most Wanted failed to get a green light from ABC, effectively killing the project. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. sagged in the ratings, so it’s curious what Disney-owned ABC has in mind for the still-lucrative comic book brand.
“We all came to an agreement that the next show that we want to do together is something that is as creatively strong as it can be,” said ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey on Thursday afternoon during the summer TCA press tour. Dungey’s comments are clear and inoffensive, but it’s also unclear whether or not he means Agent Carter and Most Wanted simply didn’t represent what ABC wanted out of its access to the Marvel brand.
Netflix also has a major Disney/Marvel partnership, and so far, they’ve been crushing it. At the TCA tour, Dugney was asked if ABC intends to model its Marvel slate after Netflix’s strategy. “That’s an interesting question, and we have talked a little bit about that, yes,” Dugney replied.
Unlike Daredevil and the upcoming Luke Cage and Iron Fist shows at Netflix, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter are/were less like superhero shows and more like spy-thrillers set in a superhero world. It was only at the end of Season 3 of S.H.I.E.L.D. that Chloe Bennet’s Daisy Johnson became Quake, her superhero identity, and the series has yet to fully explore that side of her character. Meanwhile, Daredevil and the Punisher burst onto Netflix screens immediately resembling their comics counterparts.
Dugney’s comments hint that ABC is looking to shift further into real superhero territory than it ever has. The inclusion of Ghost Rider in Season 4 of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a telltale sign, while Oscar-winner John Ridley’s project with Marvel remains close to the chest of those involved. Fingers crossed he’s doing a Ms. Marvel series.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres Sept. 20 on ABC, while Luke Cage premieres on Netflix Sept. 30.