The Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of the most expansive and beloved franchises of all time, once prided itself on strong continuity. Today, MCU canon is holier than swiss cheese, and that problem only looks to get worse. Thank you for joining us here at The Illuminerdi on our journey through the history of “canon” in the MCU.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe began in 2008 with the release of Iron Man, kickstarting a franchise that would explode in popularity and size. The film was followed by the release of The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and of course, The Avengers. For the most part, these films were connected very well, creating a wonderful cinematic universe unlike anything the world had seen before.
It’s All Connected
Following Phase 1, the MCU branched out into television. Agent Carter, Agents Of SHIELD, and Daredevil arrived in Phase 2, expanding the universe in exciting new ways. Agent Carter was a direct spinoff of Captain America, while Agents Of SHIELD and Daredevil were both heavily influenced by the events of The Avengers. The MCU was growing, expanding, and making history with their approach. At the time, the mantra was “it’s all connected”, and that was ostensibly true.
This would not last. Several behind the scenes changes at Disney would take place as Phase 2 came to a close, changes that would spell doom for the strong continuity which the creative heads of the MCU had worked so hard to build. You see, Kevin Feige wasn’t the only person in power at Marvel Studios. He had to work hard with the notoriously cheap, sexist, and racist businessman Ike Perlmutter on all Marvel Studios projects, a task so difficult that Feige nearly left Marvel Studios behind.
In order to prevent that from happening, Disney restructured their Marvel division, separating Marvel Studios from Marvel Entertainment. This meant that Kevin Feige would oversee the films, while Ike Perlmutter and Jeph Loeb would handle the TV shows. As a result, the connections between Marvel Television (a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment) and Marvel Studios became stressed and far subtler than they were in the beginning. The relationship became increasingly one sided, with the shows occasionally referencing the movies, while the movies largely ignored the events of the shows.
Agents Of Shield is perhaps the greatest example of this problem. In Phase 2, the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier directly impacted the events of AOS. Furthermore, the helicarrier which appeared in the third act of Age Of Ultron was repaired and reassembled as part of the Theta Protocol, a plan that was explained in AOS.
Agents Of Shield Abandoned
Cut to Phase 3, specifically Agents Of Shield season five. The end of the season explicitly referenced the coming of Thanos and the arrival of the Black Order in New York. Clark Gregg, who plays Agent Coulson, appeared next in Captain Marvel. Seeing as the actor and character appeared in both Marvel Television and Marvel Studios productions, one would assume that the heads of both divisions would collaborate and share information with each other to ensure strong continuity.
This did not happen.
Instead, as the writers of AOS were not informed of the specifics of Endgame, Agents Of Shield did not address the snap in season six. This made no sense, and has never been officially addressed in a sensical manner by Marvel Studios or Marvel Television.
Additionally, none of the other Marvel TV shows which aired after Infinity War addressed the decimation. Since they generally avoided time stamping their shows, one could argue that they simply took place before the snap, but that is merely conjecture and not a provable fact. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe TV shows had to dig for any scraps of connective tissue in Phase 3 of the MCU, and many fans and reporters began to claim that Marvel TV was no longer canon, despite no official declaration by Disney or any division of the company.