Marvel Studios has been cranking out new shows for Disney+ at an unprecedented rate. WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, What If…?, Hawkeye, and Moon Knight have been major Phase Four successes. Ms. Marvel is coming soon with more to follow, like She-Hulk, Echo, and the newly announced Daredevil season 4. And with Charlie Cox returning as Matt Murdock/Daredevil, it has reignited debates as to what shows created prior to Disney+ are MCU canon and what are not?
When Marvel Television was dissolved into Marvel Studios under the leadership of Kevin Feige, Marvel fans wanted to know if the previous shows were still canon to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. None of the shows like Daredevil or Agents of SHIELD ever impacted the big screen films the same way that WandaVision and Loki did.
Kevin Feige has been careful never to explicitly say that these beloved shows are no longer canon. But with Charlie Cox’s return in Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) and Vincent Di’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin in Hawkeye and new the Marvel Multiverse, the whole situation has become even murkier. And for some fans, enough is enough, and they took to Twitter to get the #KeepMarvelTVCanon trending in demand for answers.
So what shows have Marvel Studios been holding out on?
Netflix’s Defenders Saga
In 2015, the premiere of Daredevil on Netflix marked the start of the Defenders Saga. The series starred Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, and Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson. It also featured Vincent Di’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin, Elodie Yung as Elektra, Wilson Bethel as Benjamin Poindexter/Bullseye, and Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple/The Night Nurse.
It sparked a small version of the MCU on streaming. Daredevil led to Jessica Jones, starring Krysten Ritter; Luke Cage, starring Mike Coulter. And Iron Fist starring Finn Jones as Danny Rand. And Punisher, starring Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle. This culminated in the crossover series The Defenders in 2017.
While The Defenders were set apart from their big-screen counterparts, the Avengers, the series still made plenty of references to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Luke Cage references the oft-forgotten The Incredible Hulk (2018) when Bruce Banner/Hulk (then played by Edward Norton) went on a rampage in Harlem. And fans will remember even though Mark Ruffalo replaced Edward Norton. The Marvel movie is still canon.
Luke Cage/Power was also held in Seagate Prison, the same place as Trevor Slattery/The Fake Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) from Iron Man 3 (2013) and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021). Cottonmouth and Diamondback both use HammerTech from Iron Man 2 (2010). Jessica Jones referenced the Sokovia Accords from Captain America: Civil War (2016).
And while none of these series ever impacted the Avengers, that never meant they were not canon. As Twitter user Dianadlms01 points out:
“Moon Knight and Eternals showed that it is not necessary for an Avenger to appear or a direct reference to be canon, so #KeepMarvelTVCanon”
— D🦜 (@Dianadlms01) June 4, 2022
And Marvel fans want the new Daredevil show to be a true Season 4 with more than just Charlie Cox returning. KeyWatkins51299 asks for the linchpin of the different series, Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple, who appeared in every show, to come back:
“Claire was there at the very beginning of the Defenders Saga when Daredevil premiered on Netflix. It’s only fitting that we see her return in the Disney+ “reboot” (after she’s done filming Ahsoka, of course).”
Claire was there at the very beginning of the Defenders Saga when Daredevil premiered on Netflix. It’s only fitting that we see her return in the Disney+ “reboot” (after she’s done filming Ahsoka, of course). @RosarioDawson #NightNurse #KeepMarvelTVCanon pic.twitter.com/KgolddrDnS
— Key'Shawn Watkins #BLM (@KeyWatkins51299) June 4, 2022
The ABC Shows
Running from 2013 to 2020, Agents of SHIELD is the longest-running Marvel series, and fans have been demanding that Marvel Studios put some respect on their favorite characters since the show was still airing. The show followed the insane adventures of Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), Skye/Daisy Johnson AKA Quake (Chloe Bennet), Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), Lance Hunter (Nick Blood), Bobbi Morse AKA Mockingbird (Adrianne Palicki), Lincoln Campell (Luke Mitchell), Holden Radcliff (John Hannah), Elena “Yo-Yo” Rogriguez (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), Deke Shaw (Jeff Ward), Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie (Henry Simmons), Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), and Robbie Reyes AKA Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna).
But it seemed like a long shot before these characters would ever return to the MCU. Even though fan demand for characters like Daisy Johnson has never wained. Fans like MiriamSosa55 sing her praises with:
“Skye first, then she discovered her name Daisy Johnson, after that she turned into Quake the inhuman, finally some people gave her the name “Destroyer of Worlds”. She’s one of the most development character that i seen in the TV. We need her back #KeepMarvelTVCanon”
Skye first, then she discovered her name Daisy Johnson, after that she turned into Quake the inhuman, finally some people gave her the name "Destroyer of Worlds". She's one of the most development character that i seen in the TV. We need her back #KeepMarvelTVCanon pic.twitter.com/vznrdV2OTF
— Miri (Taylor's Version) ψ (@MiriamSosa55) June 4, 2022
Agents of SHIELD never shied away from referencing the Marvel movies. The whole show was built on the back of the film’s events. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) revealed that Hydra was hiding in the ranks of Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division. It completely changed the direction of the show.
The last few seasons of Agents of SHIELD took place in a clearly alternate timeline, which allows them to have more significant stories without disrupting the central Marvel universe. But fans are not done with this story yet. Especially Gabriel Luna’s Ghost Rider, who many do not want to see replaced by Johnny Blaze in a potential Midnight Sons series.
“#KeepMarvelTVCanon WE LOVE ROBBIE!!! We are so lucky to have gotten such an amazing Ghost Rider in S4, if there’s any opportunity for him to come back I know I’d be so excited”
— Brooke B | #WeLoveQuicksilver (@babfandomqueen) June 5, 2022
Other ABC shows like Agent Carter have a firmer place in MCU canon. James D’Arcy reprised his role as Howard Stark’s (Dominic Cooper/John Slattery) butler Edwin Jarvis in Avengers: Endgame (2019). Since Agent Carter took place at a different time than the rest of the MCU, post-Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), it would not have made much sense for it to crossover significantly with the Marvel movies of the time.
It did impact Agents of SHIELD, with Enver Gjokaj playing Agent Daniel Sousa on both shows. And SHIELD contained a flashback to Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) interrogating Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond). Fans like WynneRichport actually jumped onto the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Agent Carter:
“I became a fan of the MCU in 2015 with Agent Carter. Until Marvel TV ended in 2020 with Helstrom, I gave 5 years of my time and investment into these MCU shows. It’s only fair that and I other Marvel TV fans see to it that we #KeepMarvelTVCanon and we want #NoRecastNoReboot“
I became a fan of the MCU in 2015 with Agent Carter. Until Marvel TV ended in 2020 with Helstrom, I gave 5 years of my time and investment into these MCU shows. It’s only fair that and I other Marvel TV fans see to it that we #KeepMarvelTVCanon and we want #NoRecastNoReboot pic.twitter.com/P36sAj99Rp
— Wynne Richport 🇵🇷🏳️🌈♑️ (@WynneRichport) June 4, 2022
And if there was one show from ABC that Marvel fans never thought would see the light of day again, it was Inhumans. Critics and fans hated it at the time. The show included Black Bolt, portrayed by Anson Mount, and other members of the Inhuman Royal Family. Medusa (Serinda Swan), Karnak (Ken Leung), Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor), Crystal (Isabelle Cornish, and Maximus (Iwan Rheon).
But then Anson Mount returned as Blackagar Boltagon, the King of the Inhumans, stunning fans in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021). And if Kevin Feige brought him back, there is no limit to what the MCU can do. As charspringlover shares:
“if kevin fiege can bring back black bolt, an INHUMAN, even its from a different universe, he can bring him and the other inhumans back in the mcu #keepmarveltvcanon”
if kevin fiege can bring back black bolt, an INHUMAN, even its from a different universe, he can bring him and the other inhumans back in the mcu #keepmarveltvcanon
— ollie🧸 KENOBI ERA (@charspringlover) June 4, 2022
Other shows fans want as canon
Marvel’s The Runaways was created by ABC and Marvel Television for Hulu. It centered around a group of young adults who were the children of villains in Marvel Comics. It included Rhenzy Feliz as Alex Wilder, Lyrica Okano as Nico Minoru, Virginia Gardner as Karolina Dean, Ariela Barer as Gertrude Yorkes, and Gregg Sulkin as Chase Stein, and Allegra Acosta as Molly Hayes Hernandez.
The series targeted a younger audience, and whenever Disney+ gets around to Young Avengers, they will follow in this show’s steps. KeyWatkins51299 even points out the apparent connection to the two Marvel projects, saying:
“Now, the Runaways is a little tricky. A Disney+ revival could be a good start. But, I think they should appear in an upcoming project first. I think the Runaways should appear in the Young Avengers project Marvel Studios is planning.”
Now, the Runaways is a little tricky. A Disney+ revival could be a good start. But, I think they should appear in a upcoming project first. I think the Runaways should appear in the Young Avengers project Marvel Studios is planning. @VirginiaGardner #KeepMarvelTVCanon pic.twitter.com/R2GKBMwWXX
— Key'Shawn Watkins #BLM (@KeyWatkins51299) June 4, 2022
Marvel Television created Cloak and Dagger in 2018 for Freeform. It starred Olivia Holt as Tandy Bowen/Dagger and Aubrey Joseph as Tyrone Johnson/Cloak. It also targeted a younger audience and crossed over with The Runaways. The final episode of Cloak & Dagger, “Colony Collapse,” included references to Tony Stark and Danny Rand. And it consists of a scene with characters discussing Luke Cage, and Misty Knight from Iron Fist (Simone Missick) is also named.
Another one of these shows is Helstrom on Hulu. It feels the furthest from the rest of the MCU. Tom Austen and Sydney Lemmon respectively star as Daimon and Ana Helstrom, the children of a powerful serial killer who hunt the worst of humanity. It lasted for one season in 2020 before the launch of Disney+, but even if it is included on the list of shows that fans want to make MCU canon.
MarvelTVcomfort even includes shows created by Marvel Television like The Gifted or Legion, for Fox when Marvel Studios did not have the rights to the mutants of X-Men, as well as shows that never came to be like the Agents of SHIELD spinoff Most Wanted and New Warriors:
“Daredevil Jessica Jones Luke Cage Iron Fist The Punisher The Defenders Cloak & Dagger Runaways The Gifted Legion Helstrom Ghost Rider Most Wanted Inhumans New Warriors #KeepMarvelTVCanon”
— Comfort for Marvel Television stans (@MarvelTVcomfort) June 3, 2022
For now, these shows are considered “soft canon.” Not officially canon, but not contradicting it. Whether Kevin Feige ever makes these shows canon as the fans have demanded, he can still use these characters again so never give up on a later return.
Let us know in the comments which shows you want to be made officially canon.
You can stream Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and the six series in Marvel’s Phase Four so far — Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany’s WandaVision, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, Marvel’s What If…?, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, and Oscar Isaac’s Moon Knight — on Disney+ anytime.