New Marvel History Book Sparks Agents of SHIELD Canon Debate

Marvel Studios has released a new book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which takes a behind-the-scenes look at the history of the most successful cinematic franchise in history. With quotes from filmmakers and actors and exclusive art work from Marvel Studios, the new book has sparked a new buzz in the ongoing debate over whether or not the Marvel TV series Agents of SHIELD is canon to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Like the Marvel shows that were on Netflix, SHIELD was a product of Marvel TV which operated as a separate entity from Marvel Studios. 

Fans who read the book took pieces of it to fuel their arguments over whether or not Agents of SHIELD is canon to the MCU where Avengers movies take place. In now-deleted tweets, author Tara Bennett said, "We wrote the book. It does not say AoS is part of the MCU." As more fans responded, Bennett added, "Please go read the book where it clearly states how each show works in the MCU. You are not tweeting what we wrote."

As for what the book says about how Marvel Studios and Marvel TV operated, "While many observers assumed that this entire stable of characters would go directly into Marvel Studios' movie development process, it was decided by Marvel Entertainment's higher-ups that because the movie side was already deeply committed to their successful Avengers characters, and the impending Guardians of the Galaxy characters, that the returnees would instead help build a planned TV empire under the direct control of Marvel Entertainment (entirely separate from Marvel Studios)," an excerpt reads. "The film side had no control over those characters, despite their interest in developing them. Instead, they all went to Marvel Entertainment. Ghost Rider appeared in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and the others were placed in different streaming series."

This did not universally apply to the TV shows, however. Agent Carter seems to have been an exception, as it has been integrated to MCU canon with its Jarvis character appearing in Avengers: Endgame. "Yes, [Agent Carter] is [canon]," Bennett said in another tweet. And it's laid out that way in the book. And the book also explains how [Agents of SHIELD] is different and why."

This all seems to be the most definitive step Marvel Studios has taken to outwardly rule on whether or not the TV shows are canon to the main Marvel Cinematic Universe which has offered up two dozen films and four shows on Disney+, so far. After the debate among fans became more fiery, Bennett erased most of the tweets and left one final statement on the subject.

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"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," Bennett said. "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."

It's unconfirmed if Marvel Studios has plans to incorporate stories laid out in Marvel TV shows that have been released on Netflix, Hulu, ABC, and other networks. Some cast members are expected to return in upcoming Marvel Studios movies and TV shows, though Marvel Studios has not commented on any of the rumors and reports making such claims. If and when these reports turn out to be true, it is unclear whether or not the characters and cast members returning to their Marvel roles will be continuations of stories established under the Marvel TV umbrella or simply be variant versions of the characters that begin a new canon separate from their previous stories, unfolding now in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.