While the hype (and, more importantly, the ratings,) subsided over the years, SHIELD’s incremental alienation from the MCU saw the series take tremendous, increasingly-contradictory thematic detours across time and even space—and notably killed and resurrected Coulson a few more times for good measure. However, by the time it reached the end of its seven season run in August 2020, the canonical conceit maintained by the show’s cast and crew was falling on deaf ears, especially since it skipped over the Snap-centric events of Avengers: Infinity War.
Yet, in contrast, the Atwell-headlined, 1940s-set Agent Carter mostly avoided stepping on MCU toes, following a grieving, isolated, NYC-relocated Peggy Carter in the immediate years following Steve Rogers’s climactic frozen fate in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. That series similarly showed its MCU stripes by bringing Dominic Cooper back to reprise his film role as Howard Stark, and even built on key movie concepts with James D’Arcy’s role as Stark’s butler, Edwin Jarvis, who—unlike his AI namesake in the Iron Man films that ultimately became Paul Bettany’s Vision—is a real person, akin to Tony Stark’s butler in the comics. It even broached ideas that were cemented in this year’s Black Widow with the presence of Bridget Regan’s Dottie Underwood, a seemingly affable, small-town-Iowa-bred friend who turned out to be an infiltrating Soviet assassin trained in the Red Room, the same organization that, several decades later, would yield Natasha Romanoff.
Interestingly, after Carter completed a run that was cut short in 2016 after two seasons, its continuity merger with SHIELD would occur posthumously through one character, Enver Gjokaj’s Daniel Sousa, a war-wound-handicapped, similarly-underestimated cohort of Carter’s in the SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve). With SHIELD’s 2020 final season involving frequent, increasingly-irreverent time-jumps, one episode landed the titular team in 1950s-era Area 51, where they encounter a post-Carter Sousa, now an early SHIELD agent. There, the inter-series union is further cemented when Sousa joins the team in a time-jump to the present, where he would stay for the rest of the series and even enjoy a generation-crossing romance with Chloe Bennet’s Daisy Johnson/Quake. Thus, the notion of a shared continuity between the two shows is much more than a mere assumption.
For now, the apparent misunderstandings over The Story of Marvel Studios‘ revelations retrospectively highlight the now-13-year evolution of the ongoing MCU, which, despite its polished perception, has experienced its share of creative confusion, notably after the exit of a key early visionary in Avengers director Joss Whedon (who was also a credited co-creator for Agents of SHIELD with brother Jed and Maurissa Tancharoen). The era has also seen studio switch-ups, which recently saw former subsidiary Marvel Television absorbed into Marvel Studios, which seemingly has no interest in adhering to the former’s creative choices, dealing a blow to any further canonical hopes for the ABC shows or even Netflix’s Daredevil and its Street Level continuity-cohorts, not to mention Freeform’s Cloak and Dagger (which occasionally teased MCU Easter eggs,) and the myriad other Marvel-based shows once spread across the content spectrum just a few years earlier.
Marvel television content—firmly set in the MCU canon—will next manifest with Disney+ series Hawkeye, which kicks off its weekly release run on Nov. 24.