Our Problems With Marvel’s Not-So-Shared Universe
Hey guys, Okon here, and I gotta say: This one has been a long time coming.
Usually I just report the news for Geeks Of Color, but today I wanted to share my thoughts on The MCU, or The Marvel Cinematic “Universe.” Now, I put quotes around “universe” because for a while, things haven’t felt very…connected. Let’s just jump right into this mess.
A little under a decade ago, Marvel introduced Iron Man to the world, and knocked the socks off of us all. But that wasn’t all: with that film, they laid down the foundation of what they described as a “shared universe,” which would go on to include many films based on their most popular characters for YEARS to come, until they reached the culmination of it all: battling Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. Moviegoers and hardcore fans were amazed, and we all loved that idea. However, Marvel Studios decided to kick it up a notch and include a few TV shows into that already packed shared universe. And we – the fans – were all like, “Boy, this is a lot of characters and different things going on, I hope they’ll be able to balance it all.” And for a while it seemed like they were able to do it, but now? Not so much. Marvel Studios has done a good job of introducing their properties as a shared universe, but they always manage to leave out the TV and Netflix corners somehow. The MCU’s “inclusion” of it’s TV and Netflix sides in it’s shared universe is equivalent to being on a sports team, being a great player, and getting to tell everyone you play for that team, but still sitting on the bench during every game. That’s my best analogy, and I’ll explain how, starting with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
So, spoiler for anyone who’s lived under a rock for these past few years, but Agent Coulson dies in Avengers. but of course (because the MCU also suffers from Never-able-to-let-an-important-character-die-and-stay-dead syndrome), Coulson is revived, and he went on to star in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is Marvel’s take at showing us how S.H.I.E.L.D. operates from the inside. This show has been on for about 4 years now, and it’s had a tremendous run, but there’s still a few issues. I guess we’re just to believe that The Avengers really have NO IDEA that Coulson is alive? Like, none at all? And yes, Samuel L. Jackson shows up as Nick Fury maybe twice in the show, and Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), also cameos for an episode or two, but that was just for the sake of Marvel being able to say “Hey! just reminding you that yes, this is still a shared universe.” What’s more, those cameos occurred when the show first began back in 2013, which was a time in the MCU with absolutely no serious stakes, so those cameos weren’t a big deal. What Marvel did right, was expose that Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D, connecting the events from The Winter Soldier to the show. That event shifted the whole dynamic of the show, and was the only moment that it truly felt as those everything was connected. That right there show us that when you guys actually care, you can make it happen. Sure, they acknowledged the events of Age Of Ultron, and they’re introducing the Sokovia Accords now, and yes, that will affect the show. However, the issue is that the movies still pretend the show doesn’t exist. We have The Inhumans being revealed to the public, Ghost Rider out there killing on the streets, and Daisy aka Quake being publicly announced as a threat in the media countless times, but Tony Stark is too busy hitting on Aunt May to pay attention to that? How have they not seen any of this? It just doesn’t add up. And with the new Inhumans TV show, it’s going to be even harder for them to pretend the shows don’t exist, because, well, Black Bolt. And I haven’t even gotten to the Netflix corner of The MCU yet. Just bare with me a bit longer.
In 2015, Daredevil came out on Netflix, and it introduced us to the gritty, grounded, and “realistic” side of The MCU. Then, Jessica Jones came out, then Luke Cage, and Iron Fist will be out next month. The culmination of the Netflix side of The MCU will be within The Defenders, in which all four characters share a screen, but what happens after that? All four of these characters are enhanced in some way, and they could easily be considered a threat, so where is the Sokovia Accords for them? Why did Tony Stark carelessly seek out an inexperienced 16 year old with spider-like abilities to come help him fight in a battle that could have easily gotten him killed, when he could’ve reached out to Daredevil, who had been operating in the same state, on the same street-level environment, but for a longer period of time? How is it that no one from any Marvel films has made an appearance in any of these shows (except for Stan Lee)? Luke Cage made quite a scene in Harlem recently, and he clearly fights for the people, so why didn’t Steve Rogers seek him out following the events in Civil War, seeing as how he’s surely going to need a new team to help him lead these Secret Avengers (or whatever they are) soon? At least with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the show and the movie have at least had some things shared (characters, catastrophic events, etc). With the Netflixverse (that’s what im calling it now), we’ve barely even gotten a name drop of any characters, and not a mention of The Sokovia Accords (which will eventually HAVE to be brought up). The closest thing we’ve gotten is that they keep calling what happened in the first Avengers, “The Incident.” And here’s the thing: the shows are doing GREAT without all of that inclusion, but at the end of the day, we’re still here to see everything come together. If we don’t see some type of inclusion from the films of the MCU by the end of The Defenders, then I don’t think Marvel can keep pretending that what they say they’re doing is actually what they’re doing.
After everything stated above, I’d like to say that Marvel has one of two options: Find a way to incorporate the quintessential characters from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as the main characters from the Netflixverse in time for Avengers: Infinity War ( I don’t know how, but you guys created this mess, so y’all need to fix it ), or…just stop insisting that The MCU includes the TV and Netflix shows. They’re both more than capable of existing within their own worlds without being directly linked to a grand scheme that rarely included them in the end. And I hate to compare, but Just look at DC. The have a film universe, and a whole separate TV universe on The CW, and they both work mostly perfectly without having anything to do with each other. That just goes to show that it’s not impossible. But like I said, if Marvel Studios continues to sell this as a huge world that all exist together, then we as the fans deserve for them to fully deliver what they promised us, and that’s the bottom line. Because let’s face it: we all want to see Daisy have an awkward encounter with some of The Avengers, or see Spider-Man make a comment about Daredevil being blind but still being able to “see,” but that can’t happen until they guys make some changes. So please, let’s make it happen Marvel.