Marvel Should Be Able to Exist Outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the largest franchises Hollywood has ever seen, both at the box office and in all of fandom. For the most part, the world crafted by Marvel Studios is largely responsible for the successes of modern superhero cinema. Even then, the Marvel brand is much more than its movie studio, and the House of Ideas should be allowed to explore ideas and projects with zero connectivity to the MCU.

Now that Marvel Studios is in the world of television, the subject of continuity has been a topic floated by many across social media on what seems to be a daily basis. You have WandaVision introducing objects like the Darkhold to the masses when a different version was previously used on Agents of SHIELD, just one of the many items Marvel fans are using both for and against the topic of continuity.

The idea of continuity being the same as quality is a common idea held by many fans of the MCU, and it's a notion exactly as absurd as it sounds. Whether or not this movie or television show is connected to another is an unfair criticism that ends up discounting the work of hundreds of filmmakers associated with the properties included in the debate.

Worse yet, it's an idea that doesn't work either on the sides involved in the debate. Take a show like Agents of SHIELD, as an example. The earliest seasons of the ABC show were closely tied to the events unfolding in those films produced. Time passed and the show eventually grew away from the movies, save for the occasionally name-drop or nod.

Whenever the topic of continuity comes up, Agents of SHIELD fans tend to point to those earlier seasons as a clear indicator the entire show is one of the official building blocks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fans of Marvel Studios, on the other hand, quickly hop on the defense with the fact the movies have never directly referenced any of the characters that first debuted in the show.

It's as if SHIELD fans want that MCU stamp of approval, while Studios fans refuse to consume anything that doesn't have Kevin Feige's name on it — and that's only the beginning. The same can be said for most other productions Marvel Television produced during its run, from Netflix's Daredevil and Iron Fist to Freeform's Cloak and Dagger, and Hulu's Helstrom.

The thing is, you should be able to be a fan of whatever you want, and his piece isn't meant to gatekeep or tell you what to enjoy; but the world built by Marvel 80-some years ago is vast enough that it should be able to exist outside of the MCU.

Save for Marvel's publishing efforts, Marvel Studios essentially rules the roost on all things Marvel. As film and television now run through a singular structure, giving fans no question on continuity (when it comes to future properties, at least) and a product they know what to expect. Who's to blame Disney for that decision? The MCU has, after all, made nearly $25 billion at the box office.

On the flip side, the product fans have come to know and love largely remains the same. Even though something like WandaVision started off as one of Marvel's most unique ideas yet, it quickly became the typical blockbuster fare the studio has released dozens of times before.

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If Marvel projects were allowed to exist outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it'd allow filmmakers and creatives the ability to take chances and break a mold that's been put in place. Things like MODOK or Legion could still continue, and give Marvel fans — MCU or not — even more content to consume.

Cover photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney