As Marvel’s Cinematic Universe keeps growing, one question will persist. Will Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ever be considered canon?
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. came out near the beginning of the MCU, before Marvel began to include television in its multi-year plans. It was technically a spin-off, as it continued the adventures of Phil Coulson, despite his death at the hands of Loki in The Avengers. Some events in the series coincided with MCU happenings, and a handful of MCU actors popped up in Agents, like Jaimie Alexander’s Sif, Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter, and the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. himself, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).
In later seasons, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. became more independent from the larger Marvel universe, and it grew into a fantastic series as a result. But fans still wondered whether its characters and plotlines would ever influence the MCU. Marvel has always been nebulous about its role in the canon, but the studio may have just sneakily confirmed that there’s at least some overlap between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the films.
With Secret Invasion poised to dive headfirst into the mind of Nick Fury, Marvel’s website has updated the character’s biography. Notably, Fury’s new bio contains a brief reference to an adventure in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. from the Season 1 finale, “Beginning of the End.”
“When John Garrett, a promising protégé of Fury’s, is uncovered as a longtime Hydra operative, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s director steps in to lend a personal hand to Phil Coulson in taking Garrett down permanently,” the new bio reads.
The first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. dealt with Hydra’s infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the organization’s subsequent collapse. Since the series finale aligned with the premiere of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel had an opportunity to depict a major event from multiple angles. While The Winter Soldier had Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had John Garrett (Bill Paxton). Fury had a connection to both, which brought the two worlds together.
The fact that Marvel acknowledged Fury’s role in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., however brief, doesn’t confirm the series’s role in the canon, but it’s certainly a good start. After all, a key member of Inhumans popped up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, so the same could eventually happen for Agents characters. However, Marvel seems selective about which of the series’ events are considered MCU canon. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was instrumental in depicting the birth of Inhumans, but the MCU has ignored the subspecies, and even retconned Inhumans into mutants at every opportunity.
There’s also the matter of the Darkhold, an ancient book of spells that played a major role in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Marvel’s Runaways. WandaVision and Multiverse of Madness retconned the Darkhold, so it’s clear Marvel’s not too precious about honoring the non-Disney+ shows. Whether they manage to fold key parts of the series into the MCU remains to be seen, but the studio is finally beginning to acknowledge the forgotten corners of its universe, so there’s a chance that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will eventually get its time in the sun.