Marvel Casts Doubt on Agents of SHIELD's MCU Canonicity In New Timeline

By Jennifer McDonough Posted:
Clark Gregg's Phil Coulson, Avengers: Civil War poster, Marvel Studios logo

The upcoming MCU timeline book officially licensed by Marvel contradicts Agents of SHIELD fans‘ long-held beliefs that the show is canon.

When Agents of SHIELD first premiered on ABC in 2013, it was marketed as a tie-in to the MCU films. The series was headlined by Clark Gregg’s Agent Phil Coulson, who had a bad date with the business end of Loki’s bladed staff in 2012’s The Avengers and seemingly did not survive.

But he was brought back from the dead in Agents of SHIELD to lead a new team of spies and agents. With dozens of references to the wider MCU in the series’ first few seasons, it was easy to believe that SHIELD was legitimately connected to the movies. But as the show went on, those connections became more tenuous.

Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson in Agents of SHIELD

Notably, none of the Marvel Studios films, series, or specials ever made direct reference to SHIELD or any of the other series made by the Marvel Television branch. Eventually, Marvel TV was shuttered, marking the end of the Jeph Loeb-produced programs.

Marvel Timeline Book the Final Nail in SHIELD’s Coffin?

DK Book’s upcoming Marvel Studios’ The Marvel Cinematic Universe: An Official Timeline lays out every event that happened in the MCU‘s first four phases in an easily digestible, chronological format.

It doesn’t hit retailers until late October, but thanks to an extended preview offered by Amazon, the book’s contents are now searchable. 

Marvel Cinematic Universe Timeline book search

If one were to enter the name Phil Coulson into the search, they’d be met with a small number of results. It's too small to accommodate all the occurrences in which he was involved from Agents of SHIELD, the show that Coulson starred in for seven seasons.

By searching further, including in the index, it’s easy to see that all Agents of SHIELD material has been completely omitted. There's no mention of the Terrigen outbreak, Ghost Rider, or Chronicoms.

On top of that, nothing from shows like Daredevil, Cloak and Dagger, or Runaways was listed either.

Arguably, Marvel Studios does not view these properties as official MCU canon, which is likely why none of them have crossed over into any of the produced projects.

Were the Marvel Television Shows Ever Canon?

Marvel Television’s output was obviously never a consideration for Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and the team at Marvel Studios. 

Heroes like Daisy Johnson have never crossed over into films or Disney+ shows, despite heavy speculation that she’d appear in Secret Invasion. Other key Marvel TV players like Melinda May and Tyrone Johnson were never so much as namedropped in something like Avengers: Endgame.

Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock guest spots in Spider-Man: No Way Home and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law sparked some hope that his backstory from the Netflix shows would remain in continuity, but allusions to those shows are not found in the timeline book.

And, in fact, several people involved with the upcoming Daredevil: Born Again series stated that the show is doing its own thing, marking a lack of concern for what went down in the three seasons of Netflix’s Daredevil.

Despite what is sure to be viewed as a major upset to some fans, just because Marvel Studios deemed these series to be non-canon shouldn’t take away even a shred of enjoyment that has been held by audiences. 

If Agents of SHIELD creates joy for someone, then what does it matter if it doesn’t factor into something else? The series stood on its own two feet and delighted viewers for years. There’s something to be said about that.

Published by Dorling Kindersley, Marvel Studios’ The Marvel Cinematic Universe: An Official Timeline releases on October 25.

- About The Author: Jennifer McDonough
Jennifer McDonough has been a writer at The Direct since its 2020 launch. She is responsible for the creation of news articles and features. She also has a particular affinity for action figures and merchandise, which she revels in discussing in the articles she writes, when the situation calls for it.