Summary

  • Brad Winderbaum has confirmed that Marvel Television’s
    Defenders Saga
    is canon to the MCU, suggesting other Marvel Television shows could be too.
  • The
    Defenders Saga
    being confirmed to be canon could put a decade-long
    Agents of SHIELD
    debate to rest once and for all.
  • Despite potential benefits, there are various problems integrating
    Agents of SHIELD
    into the MCU, most notably because of the separate storylines and
    Agents of SHIELD’s
    Inhumans.



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Following recent updates concerning Marvel Television’s Netflix shows, Agents of SHIELD could be next to be officially integrated into the MCU. Marvel Television’s Agents of SHIELD premiered in 2013 in conjunction with the theatrical releases of the MCU, as Agents of SHIELD’s early seasons were informed by the action of MCU projects such as The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Despite being initially tied to the MCU, later seasons explored wildly different stories, fueling a decade-long discussion regarding whether Marvel Television’s Agents of SHIELD is actually canon to the MCU.


When Marvel Studios started to develop its own MCU-set TV shows for Disney+, beginning with 2021’s WandaVision, the canon status of previous Marvel Television shows was thrown into doubt. This includes, among others, Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter, Runaways, Cloak and Dagger and Marvel Television’s Defenders Saga, which comprises six series’ released on Netflix between 2015 and 2019. Marvel Television’s shows referenced the MCU, but the opposite wasn’t the case, so many considered these series to be set in alternate universes. However, this may now be changing, as Marvel Studios has recently made huge changes to the MCU’s official timeline.

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The Defenders Saga Is MCU Canon, So Other Marvel TV Shows Might Be Too

Jessica Jones, Danny Rand's Iron Fist, Matt Murdock's Daredevil and Luke Cage in an elevator in The Defenders

Alongside the January 2024 release of Echo, Marvel Studios integrated the Defenders Saga into the MCU’s official timeline on Disney+, placing the shows primarily in Phases 2 and 3 of the MCU, prior to Avengers: Infinity War. This teased the Defenders Saga series, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders and The Punisher, becoming canon to the MCU, but this didn’t get any official confirmation from Marvel Studios. However, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in March 2024, Marvel Studios’ Head of Television, Animation and Streaming, Brad Winderbaum, confirmed the Defenders Saga is indeed canon to the MCU.


We finally said it out loud. When the Netflix shows were coming out and being made, we were building towards
Infinity
War
and
Endgame
. We were trying to balance all of these film franchises and get them to culminate onscreen in these two epic movies. To say it was a challenge is not even correct. It was one of the most challenging creative endeavors the studio ever undertook. I’m not sure there will ever be anything like it again in cinema. It took so much to get all that stuff to galvanize in that one place and in that one time so that people could have that experience in the movie theater.

So, at the time, to say, “Alright, we’re also going to take this television show and wrap our heads around that,” it would’ve been too much, even though we were communicating back and forth. Everyone on the television side and the film side knew what each other was doing, and you can see that there’s a continuity there. The references do line up, but it was just too much for us to wrap our minds around at the time.


Flash forward now to Disney+, where we are actually laying out the timeline with tiles on a screen, all of a sudden we’re like, “We should just do it. Let’s do it.” It was also spurred by the redevelopment of
Daredevil: Born Again
, once we started to really lean into some of the mythology and backstory that was established in those Netflix shows. I was asked about this during the press for
Echo
, and I realized, “Oh, it’s not just assumed. People have an active interest and they want confirmation.” So we were able to do it fairly quickly, and it’s interesting that the service of Disney+ actually became the statement just by rearranging those tiles. That’s our medium to define the canon now, which is wild to think about.


Interestingly, Brad Winderbaum suggested that the canon status of Marvel Television’s Defenders Saga could have simply been “assumed,” which perhaps hints at other Marvel Television shows also being able to be “assumed” to be canon to the MCU. Recent speculation points to Agent Carter being next to be folded into the MCU’s official timeline, and Agents of SHIELD could soon follow, finally putting the decade-long debate to rest. As the MCU continues to grow, it’s more important than ever for these questions to be answered, as characters from these Marvel Television shows could soon be brought fully into the MCU.

Avengers 5 & 6 Make Agents Of SHIELD’s Canon Question More Relevant Than Ever

Jemma Simmons, Daisy Johnson, Grant Ward, Melinda May and Leo Fitz in Agents of SHIELD season 1

Phase 6’s Avengers 5 and Avengers: Secret Wars are expected to feature past and present MCU characters, and characters from other non-MCU Marvel franchises. Suspected to be even larger in volume than 2018’s Infinity War and 2019’s Endgame, it’s very possible Avengers 5 and Secret Wars will include a number of characters from Marvel Television’s previous shows, which means that answering these questions regarding their canon status to the MCU should be of importance to Marvel Studios. This will let audiences know what should or shouldn’t be watched before Phase 6, allowing for full enjoyment in 2026 and 2027, respectively.


There Are Problems With Agents Of SHIELD Being Made MCU Canon

While there are many wonderful benefits to bringing Agents of SHIELD, specifically, into the MCU’s official timeline, such as the integration of characters like Daisy Johnson, Melinda May and Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie into the MCU, and the re-establishment of SHIELD as a bona fide organization, there are also pitfalls. While Agents of SHIELD’s first season stuck pretty close to the MCU’s ever-growing continuity, season 2 onward veered drastically from the stories that Marvel Studios was telling on the big screen. Most notably, this included introducing Inhumans in Agents of SHIELD, while the official MCU has completely ignored this world-changing storyline.


Marvel Studios first mentioned Inhumans in the MCU during 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and this was only via the appearance of a Black Bolt variant on Earth-838. The MCU’s main continuity hasn’t included Inhumans, but the species was a major part of Agents of SHIELD, and the existence of Inhumans became common knowledge. Other issues of bringing Agents of SHIELD into the MCU’s timeline include different time travel rules, SHIELD and HYDRA’s histories, and, of course, the resurrection of Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson, so there’s a lot to consider before integrating the series into the MCU.

Agents Of SHIELD Season

Premiere & Finale Date

Agents of SHIELD Season 1

Sep 24, 2013 – May 13, 2014

Agents of SHIELD Season 2

Sep 23, 2014 – May 12, 2015

Agents of SHIELD Season 3

Sep 29, 2015 – May 17, 2016

Agents of SHIELD Season 4

Sep 20, 2016 – May 16, 2017

Agents of SHIELD Season 5

Dec 1, 2017 – May 18, 2018

Agents of SHIELD Season 6

May 10, 2019 – Aug 2, 2019

Agents of SHIELD Season 7

May 27, 2020 – Aug 12, 2020


Key Release Dates

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