When it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, canon is key; although, when it comes to Marvel Television, canon has long been in the eye of the beholder.
Long before WandaVision and Disney+, Marvel Television was responsible for shows like Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Agent Carter, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and more. While these shows often referenced the MCU, Marvel's library of films rarely returned the favor.
This has led to fan debates over whether Marvel Television shows are considered canon, particularly in regard to Agent Carter starring the MCU's Hayley Atwell and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D featuring the MCU's own Phil Coulson played by Clark Gregg.
Now, after years of speculation, official word from Marvel gives indication about the series' canon status.
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD Isn't Canon
While the authors of The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe indicated that Agent Carter is considered canon within the MCU, they also suggested that Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is not.
When this news hit the interwebs, some fans took to social media to debate the confirmation to which the new book's author, Tara Bennet, responded in a tweet that read:
"We wrote the book. It does not say AoS is part of the MCU."
For those who hadn't read Marvel's newest book, this news resulted in both confusion and frustration, with some stating that Agent Carter must fall in the category of non-canon. In regard to these claims, Bennet posted, "Please go read the book:"
"Please go read the book where it clearly states how each show works in the MCU. You are not tweeting what we wrote."
In an additional tweet, Bennet again tried to clarify the facts, stating that "Agent Carter is different from AoS [Agents of Shield]:"
"The tweet is incorrect lumping both shows in together as the same situation. Agent Carter is different from AoS."
As others engaged in the conversation, she continued to defend the fact that the approaches to the two shows were different in a reply while also promising the book would explain it all:
"Yes, AC is. And it's laid out that way in the book. And the book also explains how AoS is different and why."
Lastly, the Marvel author chose to spell it all out in a final tweet stating that the book is "MS's [Marvel Studios'] history" and it "says what you want to know:"
"We just spent 3.5 years writing 250K words in a book that lays out MS's [Marvel Studios'] history w/ the TV shows. It's all in the book with quotes from the players. I'm not making statements for MS when the book is their history & says what you want to know."
In The Story of Marvel Studios, one of the only direct mentions of Agents of SHIELD comes off a quote from Joss Whedon when he confirms that Coulson's death in The Avengers is described as "definitive." According to Whedon, Agents of SHIELD "always was a separate thing—it was really separate from the movies. I was also clear: We can do it in the TV show, but we can't do it in the movies. 'Hey, this beloved character you thought was dead is back' is the worst thing the sequels can do."
UPDATE: Bennet has taken to Twitter again to clarify that the books "have no binary proclamation of any kind about shows" and that they "only feature projects creatively produced by Marvel Studios:"
"Closing this discussion for good: in a tweet I refuted a reported story from Brazil that incorrectly said the book definitively said [Agents of SHIELD] & [Agent Carter] were canon shows. Our books have no binary proclamation of any kind about shows, which I stated as well. In 250k words of contextual narrative, they do explain who creatively conceived of [Agent Carter] and ran it and then how it then folded into the MCU. The books only feature projects creatively produced by Marvel Studios. Tweets have been cherry picked without context so I'm deleting them because as we all know, this forum allows for so much clarity Enjoy all the shows. Enjoy all the characters. Enjoy all the movies. And enjoy the great stories in our books. That's all that matters."
Canon or Not Canon? That is the Question.
Even though the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Television shared the Marvel name, in reality, they operated independently of one another, with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige having little to no control.
Considering interconnected storytelling and continuity are part of Marvel's brand, it's understandable why fans may be frustrated and even confused over Agent Carter and Marvel's Agents of SHIELD's canonical status.
However, this new title - The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - as Tara Bennet attempted to explain, offers the facts and the explanations from character rights issues to past visions for Marvel's episodic storytelling and the like.
Plus, as Bennet also noted, this book isn't her interpretation but Marvel Studios' history. Since it's an authorized record of events, the book is actually the fans' long-awaited final word on the canonical status of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Marvel Television's other series.
Still, just because a show isn't canon, that doesn't mean elements of the various shows and its characters can't be brought into the MCU to be made canon.
While Daredevil's Charlie Cox, played by Matt Murdock, is often brought up in the rumor mill, it's worth remembering that Marvel has unleashed the multiverse and anything can happen. After all, if Fox's version of Quicksilver can crossover into the MCU, who's to say other Marvel Television characters won't in the future?
Marvel Studios' upcoming theatrical film Eternals is set to arrive in theaters on November 5, 2021.