In September 2013, Agents of SHIELD aired its very first episode. The series was billed as being fully connected to the wider MCU. But as the seasons went on and additional shows were produced by Marvel’s TV branch, it started to become clear that there was a disconnect between these series and the films that the team at Marvel Studios was making.
Eventually, Marvel Television was shuttered and Marvel Studios began producing shows for Disney+ that were fully integrated into the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. None of this sat well with the die-hard fans of projects like SHIELD (and others, such as Jessica Jones and Runaways).
Feige Addresses Marvel Studios Canon
The new book Marvel Studios’ The Marvel Cinematic Universe - An Official Timeline included a foreword by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.
In his introduction is the following paragraph, where the Marvel boss laid out what is covered by the book in relation to Marvel canon:
“On the Multiverse note, we recognize that there are stories—movies and series-that are canonical to Marvel but were created by different storytellers during different periods of Marvel’s history. The timeline presented in this book is specific to the MCU’s Sacred Timeline through Phase 4. But, as we move forward and dive deeper into the Multiverse Saga, you never know when timelines may just crash or converge (hint, hint/spoiler alert).”
What is presented within this specific chronology? All of Marvel Studios’ feature films and live-action Disney+ series up to the end of Phase 4, as well as its two Special Presentations, Werewolf by Night and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.
This statement has led some fans to believe that Feige is essentially indicating that the Sacred Timeline, the setting in which everything in the main MCU from Iron Man to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and onward takes place, is not inclusive of other shows and films outside of Marvel Studios' own projects.
This would mean that the output from Marvel Television (Luke Cage, Cloak and Dagger, etc.) falls outside of the blanket and would not be considered canon to the MCU’s Sacred Timeline.
Also not a part of the Sacred Timeline are the Marvel films created by 20th Century Fox, before its acquisition by Disney. This also means the Sony Spider-Man installments before Homecoming aren’t on there either, of course.
MCU Canon Is What One Makes of It
So, an officially sanctioned chronology of the MCU doesn’t include any references to Marvel Television’s series. And Feige strongly implied that none of it is canon to begin with.
But does it truly matter? Sure, many fans‘ favorite shows aren’t technically recognized by the studio, but should that stop people from watching and enjoying them? Absolutely not.
Viewers can still take in episodes of Daredevil to their heart’s content knowing that it’s a quality series that they derive joy from.
And when the presumably Multiverse-spanning Avengers: Secret Wars rolls around, maybe the stars from some of these older shows could show up through the power of alternate-universe storytelling.
Marvel called the current three phases “The Multiverse Saga” for a good reason, and it seems like the sky’s the limit concerning the characters who could pop up. Kevin Feige alluded to as much in his foreword.
Marvel Studios’ The Marvel Cinematic Universe - An Official Timeline, from publisher Dorling Kindersley, hits stores on Tuesday, October 24.