Last night’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD revealed some interesting details about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One such detail deals with fandom. There are plenty of fans of Marvel’s heroes in the real world, but what does fandom look like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where the heroes actually exist?
It turns out, fandom exists much the same way. This was on display when Agent Sam Koenig (Patton Oswalt) met Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) for the first time since Daisy became “Quake,” the Inhuman vigilante.
Koenig had a complete fanboy moment at meeting a superhero, despite it being a person he’d met before and even though he himself is an agent of SHIELD. In Koenig's ramblings, he revealed that there is actually a lot of fan fiction written about the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that can be found online. According to Koenig, some of the fan fiction is quite “steamy,” include a whole series of slash fiction involving Quake and Black Widow. Fans even refer to the couple by the ship name “Quack.”
This may seem like a silly, incidental detail revealed in a bit scene, and to some extent it is. However, it is also an example of the Marvel Cinematic Universe carrying on a Marvel Comics tradition. Marvel has always championed its universe as being the “world outside your window,” emphasizing that the Avengers, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four all operate out of New York City and not some fictional city like Metropolis or Gotham.
Fans eventually started to wonder if Marvel the publisher existed in some form within the Marvel Comics Universe. The answer was a firm yes, and with the same staff on board as well, as evidenced by frequent cameos from writers and artists. The difference between Marvel in the comics and Marvel in reality is that the Marvel Comics of the Marvel Comics Universe publishes fictionalized stories based on “real” adventures of the Marvel heroes.
This idea got a 21st-century update in modern titles like Runaways and Ms. Marvel. The very first issue of Runaways opens with one of the characters playing a massively multiplayer online game based on the Marvel heroes. Before being terrigenated and becoming the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan herself wrote and read lots of fanfiction featuring her favorite superheroes.
Now the Marvel Cinematic Universe is following in those footsteps. Sure, the Marvel Comics Universe examples don’t get into “steamy” territory, but Agents of SHIELD bringing it up is just taking advantage of the 10 p.m. time slot.
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Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.