Marvel might have just answered the lingering mystery of Agents of SHIELD’s canonicity.
While the show was initially marketed as being connected to everything on the movie side, Marvel Studios themselves never seemed to act like it. While the show would continually reference the events of the films, it was only ever a one-way street; for the wider MCU, Agents of SHIELD may as well as not ever existed.
This became even more obvious when Marvel Studios started producing Disney+ shows, acting like it was their first time in that space. In actuality, it kind of was, since all previous shows were handled by Marvel Entertainment.
New Marvel Bio Hints at Agents of SHIELD
A new bio for Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury on Marvel.com contains a reference to his time on the late ABC series, Agents of SHIELD.
The moment it specifically mentions is his brief appearance in the show's first season. During Episode 22, "Beginning of the End", Fury helps Agent Coulson take down rogue SHIELD agent John Garrett:
Within his own organization, when John Garrett, a promising protégé of Fury’s, is uncovered as a longtime Hydra operative, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s director steps in to lend a personal hand to Phil Coulson in taking Garrett down permanently.
Many will likely see this as a sign that the former project is, without a doubt, canon to the MCU.
It's important to note that, while this is a fun reference to the ABC show, it's not definitive. This didn't come from the top of the totem pole and was likely written up by someone fairly low on it.
With how Marvel Studios previously handled SHIELD, many have assumed that the company was looking to consider the show non-canon.
One of the more damning pieces of evidence against Agents of SHIELD is the inclusion of the Darkhold in WandaVision and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The book first showed up in Season 4 of the ABC series, but when it popped up on Disney+, not only did it look completely different, but its history and function didn't line up either.
In fact, WandaVision's writer, Jac Schaeffer, even admitted that they "were not looking" the SHIELD's version of the relic. That clearly wouldn't happen if Marvel Studios truly considered them both on the same level of MCU canon.
Then, of course, there's the whole final season which features a bunch of time travel that doesn't match up to everything fans know now about the MCU.
Even in the episode directly mentioned here, Nick Fury's eye wound does not match its Flerkin origins.
Is the Canon Question for SHIELD Solved?
Despite this inclusion in Marvel's website, the jury’s still out on Agent of SHIELD’s canonicity.
At the end of the day, without someone at the top outright declaring canon status, it’s near impossible to say for certain if it is. It’s likely all selective canon, picking and choosing what they like—particularly the bits that don’t go against anything in the core MCU.
While it’s hard to prove canonicity without the official label, it’s super easy to disprove it. All it takes is one notable contradiction, and all bets are off.
At the end of the day, canon or not, it’s important to remember anyone can still enjoy the show, no matter its canon status. There’s plenty that points to Marvel Studios looking at SHIELD as not canon to its core franchises, but it doesn’t mean the series didn’t have some incredible moments.
After all, who doesn’t want to see more of Chloe Bennet’s Daisy Johnson or the iconic lovebird duo FitzSimmons? Perhaps the rest of Secret Invasion will lead the way to making that possible.
The first episode of Secret Invasion is now streaming on Disney+.