James Gunn Casts Doubt on Agents of SHIELD Being MCU Canon

By Russ Milheim Updated:
Agents of SHIELD Poster Avengers Endgame Poster

With Loki and all the other recent Disney+ releases from Marvel Studios, the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially entered the television sphere. Since the stories being told on the streaming service are important to the overall universe, fans are seeing storylines weaving in and out of future movies in ways like never before. 

Still, what about the other Marvel shows? This includes projects like Agents of SHIELD, or Daredevil—or any of the Netflix shows, for that matter. Well, the thing is, those are from a different time.

In fact, the first Disney+ show, WandaVision, contradicted Agents of SHIELD canon when it included its own version of the Darkhold. Yet, some fans persist, standing firm in their belief that the show holds its place in the MCU canon.

While the Darkhold is one thing, even the time travel rules established in Agents of SHIELD seemingly go against what was established in both Avengers: Endgame and Loki. Nonetheless, with the undying love that many fans have for the show, it's hard for some to come to terms with the possibility that it may not be canon to the overall MCU.

Now, even Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has chimed into the conversation.


Avengers Infinity War Agents of SHIELD

On Twitter, James Gunn sent a flurry of tweets regarding the canonicity of shows like Agents of SHIELD in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

The conversation began by discussing actors that have been in both the MCU and DCEU, with James Gunn listing the likes of Zachary Levi, Idris Elba, Michael Keaton, and more. 

It then took a turn when a fan, @ShaunBlake1, added John Glover to the list—mentioning that the actor had been in both Shazam! and Agent Carter.

Gunn was quick to comment, saying that he wasn't "including pre-WandaVision shows in the MCU." Twitter user @SuperMarvel19 was quick to rise up against the director, stating clearly that "Agent Carter and AOS are MCU."

James Gunn responded with a simple question: "According to whom?" @SuperMarvel19 stood their ground, claiming it was "according to Marvel..." and "according to Disney so far."

Gunn tried to shut down this idea of the previous shows being canon, sending out another Tweet that started with "That's incorrect:"

"That's incorrect. There was never any coordination between the earlier TV stuff and the cinematic side of Marvel like there is now that they're all under the purview of Marvel Studios."


Many are quick to quote Marvel Studios President Feige around the time of Thor: The Dark World. Feige was still under the shadow of Ike Perlmutter, Chairman of Marvel Entertainment and the one in control of Marvel's TV content—and was surprisingly Feige's boss. So, those TV shows were going on, and Feige didn't want anything to do with them, just like he didn't want anything to do with Perlmutter.

During that time, there was little coordination between the MCU movies and TV shows. It came off as a one-sided relationship, with the shows consistently trying to fill in small gaps in the film's storytelling.

Since then, Feige split from Perlmutter, showing to the world the massive divide that there was between the movie and the TV sides of things. After Feige's split, the old Marvel TV went on for a little longer. The then-canceled Inhumans movie, a film that Feige was rumored to not want to make but had to in order to get Black Panther approved, went on to become a television show. 

Inhumans ultimately had an awkward IMAX partnership and premiere. This, alongside the fumbling of The Defenders and Iron Fist, spelled doom for Marvel Entertainment.

All that, on top of the fact that Feige went on to report to Bob Iger at Disney, freed Marvel Studios from being attached to Marvel Entertainment. The gates were open for something far different: the world of streaming. 

So, those who are quick to Feige's 2013 quote should also be aware of what he said back in 2019 as the Disney+ streaming was announced, declaring that "it all, for the first time, will interlink..." 

Kevin Feige now has full control of both sides of things, and projects will weave back and forth in a connective way that was never going to happen back in the old Marvel TV days.

Ultimately, some fans will need to be heavily persuaded to believe that that the old shows' canonicity to the MCU could now be nonexistent, at least when it comes to the prime timeline/universe. In the end, however, everyone can still enjoy all of those shows just the same. Just think of it all as in a slightly different timeline—one that the TVA hasn't pruned.

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.