Marvel TV shows are becoming steady hits for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, but network TV is still a turbulent frontier. ABC network executives revealed at the TCA upfronts that there will be no new Marvel TV series coming to ABC this season upcoming season. The Inhumans is not expected to get a second season order, which will leave Agents of SHIELD as the sole Marvel project on the network.
As ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey told executives (via Deadline):
“We developed a couple things this season that we don’t think are going to end up going forward, so we’re going to look really carefully about what we do next."
Dungey also kept the door open to Inhumans season 2 (if only slightly), by telling executives that no official decision about the series has been made yet, though the ratings were disappointing.
Marvel TV fans keeping count will know just how many rumored or "in development" projects have gone nowhere. The Hunter / Mockingbird spinoff got axed; Oscar-winning writer John Ridley's "Secret Marvel Project" fell apart; and none of the possibilities that have been teased with every new Marvel TV show or movie has actually been announced. Given how the Marvel movies don't even acknowledge or incorporate elements of the TV side, it's hard to say where ABC's Marvel brand goes from here.
Could this be a sign that Marvel TV content is best suited for other platforms? As ABC stumbled through two years of SHIELD (2013 - 2015), Netflix hit the ground running in 2015 and spawned an entire Marvel TV universe of its own (The Defenders). Hulu proved any doubters wrong by launching its own successful show in Runaways this past fall - and as Inhumans teeters on the precipice after all its fancy IMAX promotion, Runaways is coasting into season 2 renewal on a wave of critical and fan acclaim.
Clearly Marvel TV shows concepts can work; even Fox's X-Men shows Legion and The Gifted were reasonably successful, on both the cable and network TV fronts. It seems this issue boils down to what's going on over ABC - and what Marvel Studios is ultimately going to do about it. With Disney's streaming service launching next year, the studio could be holding any big new Marvel TV projects to help promote that venture.
Meanwhile, Agents of SHIELD is airing season 5 Fridays @ 9/8c. Pitches for season 6 are currently being considered.