- The MCU has cut tie-in books, comics, and TV shows from its movie timeline, leaving only specific Disney+ series and MCU movies as canon.
- The place of the Defenders TV shows in canon has always been ambiguous, with the MCU avoiding confirming them as part of the main timeline.
- Marvel has removed various shows like Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter, Inhumans, Cloak and Dagger, and Runaways from canon, either due to tensions between studios or a disconnect in tone and continuity.
Though the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the biggest media franchises in existence, it would have been much larger if certain projects hadn’t been cut from canon. The movies and TV shows of the MCU make up a sprawling universe of characters and stories from Marvel Comics brought to life on the screen. The franchise comprises multiple phases of storytelling, with Phases 1 through 3 dubbed the Infinity Saga, following the events leading up to Avengers: Endgame, and Phases 4 through 6 the Multiverse Saga, concerning the franchise’s expansion into the infinite Multiverse.
However, the franchise was once bigger, as multiple stories have been removed from canon. Tie-in books, comics, and TV shows have all been cut from the MCU’s movie timeline, with only specific Disney+ series and MCU movies considered canon. The official canon of the MCU is occasionally ambiguous, with certain shows’ specific status left unclear thanks to shared castings and the addition of several Multiverse cameos. The canon has shifted with the MCU as the franchise has continued to grow, and many stories have been pruned from the timeline for the sake of continuity or clarity. With that in mind, here’s every MCU story Marvel cut from canon.
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9 The Defenders Saga’s Place In Canon Has Always Been Ambiguous
The MCU Uses Characters From Netflix’s Shows But Avoids Confirming Them As Canon
Created by Netflix, the Defenders TV shows were initially designed to tie into the MCU. The likes of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher, and The Defenders were originally written to take place shortly after the Battle of New York, existing independently of but in the same universe as the MCU. However, the links were later severed, with the MCU seemingly cutting ties with the shows by categorizing them as outside of the MCU’s main timeline.
Interestingly, Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio reprising their respective roles as Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Kingpin in the MCU has brought the shows’ status under question once more. It has yet to be officially confirmed within the franchise whether the characters are the same as those from the Defenders shows, or alternate variants played by the same actors. The ambiguous nature of the Defenders shows’ place in canon has long been a complaint for those desperate to see more of their characters join the MCU.
8 Thanos: Titan Consumed Once Offered An Insight Into Thanos’ Past
The Novel Exploring Thanos’ Origin Was Cut From Canon
Ahead of Thanos’ role in Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel worked with author Barry Lyga to develop Thanos: Titan Consumed, a tie-in book detailing Thanos’ origin story. Despite working closely with Lyga to ensure the book stayed true to their MCU vision, Marvel later announced that the book had no canonical ties to the MCU. The glimpse into Thanos’ past was an interesting one ahead of his major role as part of Avengers: Infinity War’s cast, and despite the book perfectly matching up with the MCU and there being no contradictions of continuity, it was swiftly cut from canon.
7 Agents Of SHIELD Was Quietly Removed From Canon
Tensions Between Studios Caused The Show To Be Cut From Canon
Agents of SHIELD was written to be a substantial MCU spin-off, fleshing out the stories about the titular organization and their role in the Avengers movies. The first season of the show even saw appearances from MCU characters, including Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and Sif. However, as the show went on, tensions began to grow between the two different studios (Marvel Studios for the movies of the MCU, and Marvel Television for Agents of SHIELD). This ultimately resulted in a disconnect between the two, and the eventual addition of Agents of SHIELD to Marvel’s list of legacy projects.
6 Agent Carter Explored An Unseen Period Of The MCU (& Then Got Cut)
The Spin-Off Fleshed Out Captain America’s Supporting Characters
Another Marvel TV show that was once considered canon is Agent Carter, with Hayley Atwell reprising her role from Captain America: The First Avenger. The show was set between the events of The First Avenger and the rest of the MCU, chronicling the early days of SHIELD and Carter’s exploits with Howard Stark. For similar reasons to Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter’s place in canon was made ambiguous, with any explicit ties played down to distance it from the franchise proper.
5 Inhumans Was An Agents Of SHIELD Spin-Off
There Were Multiple Victims Of Disney & Marvel’s Disagreements
Another Marvel Television show to be axed from canon was Inhumans, an Agents of SHIELD spin-off following the titular race of super-powered beings. The show was much further removed from the MCU than most other Marvel TV shows, but it was once considered canon due to it being an extension of Agents of SHIELD. When its parent show was cut, so too was Inhumans, which was seemingly confirmed by Anson Mount reprising his role as Black Bolt in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ cast, hinting that the show simply may have occurred in an alternate universe.
4 Cloak And Dagger Was Made For The MCU – And Then Cut From It
Cloak And Dagger’s Fan Service Didn’t Stop It From Being Cut
Cloak and Dagger proved itself a particularly popular show with many MCU fans, but that wasn’t enough to prevent it from being removed from canon. The show was seemingly confirmed to exist in the same continuity as other Marvel Television shows but was later added to Marvel’s list of legacy media. Cloak and Dagger being cut from canon meant that its celebrated MCU fan service failed to save its place within the franchise’s main continuity.
3 Helstrom Was Deemed Too Dark For The MCU Proper
The Show’s Tone Didn’t Match The MCU Well Enough
Helstrom’s place within MCU canon is another that was always somewhat ambiguous. Though it first appeared to be set within the same universe as the movies of the MCU, this was later announced to be untrue. Many believe that the darker tone of the show was the reason, as it followed the children of a serial killer and took on a more horror-based tone than the action comedies of the MCU. This, combined with poor reviews, seemingly ensured that it was cut from MCU canon before being canceled.
2 Runaways Was Subtly Removed From Canon By WandaVision
Another Marvel Television Property Was Quietly Cut From The MCU
The slow drift of Marvel Television’s shows from canon to legacy projects makes the specific moment of their removal difficult to pinpoint, but Runaways was officially confirmed as non-canon by WandaVision. Runaways had featured a scene with the Darkhold, and when WandaVision introduced the book, it was an entirely different version. The Disney+ series also made use of a title card denoting it as “Made by Marvel Studios”, apparently confirming that Runaways and the other Marvel Television shows should no longer be considered canon to the MCU.
1 Lots Of MCU Tie-In Comics Were Once Canon
The MCU Changed The Status Of Its Own Comics
Lastly, one of the most substantial areas in which the MCU has trimmed its own canon is in the medium of comics. The franchise was initially comprised of MCU movies and multiple tie-in comics written to directly expand the universe as introduced in the live-action adaptations. However, Marvel later decided to relegate many of these titles to “Inspired by” status, officially removing them from canon. As a result, many comics once considered canon that can no longer claim to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.