Earlier this week, Hulu released the official full-length trailer to Helstrom, and shortly thereafter, the streamer started a massive marketing push for the show from Marvel Television. Under normal circumstances, it's a time that's supposed to be joyous for fans of the show. Yet here we are, a massive cloud of uncertainty looming large overhead just weeks ahead of the show's release. After all, Helstrom was the last live-action showed put into production by the entity formerly known as Marvel Television. May it forever rest in peace.
The production outfit was initially launched to help extend to Marvel Cinematic Universe to new heights and new mediums. It gave us ABC's Agents of SHIELD, a mini-universe on Netflix with the likes of Daredevil and The Defenders, and it launched a pair of YA-oriented shows in Runaways and Cloak and Dagger.
Then, in the blink of an eye, the production house dusted into the wind. Technically, it was absorbed by Kevin Feige and his team at Marvel Studios in a corporate restructuring that saw the mega-producer promoted to Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment. Suddenly, anything with the Marvel Television branding on it mattered to few.
Even at its best, a substantial amount of the fandom had a hard time believing Marvel Television properties were properly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Due to some odd creative choices — like calling the Battle of New York "The Incident" or refusing to put Avengers Tower in anything — an ongoing debate has raged on as to whether or not Daredevil, Agents of SHIELD, or anything else from the TV-based outfit is actually in the same continuity as the Marvel Studios films that make billions at the box office.
When it comes to Helstrom, things may change. As many have been quick to notice, the marketing for the series is completely devoid of any Marvel branding. Though it was first announced as Marvel's Helstrom, Hulu has shifted gears and has tweaked the name. Now? It's simply Helstrom.
While Marvel seems to be distancing itself from the property, we first reported earlier this summer the reasoning behind the name change. The series dives head-first into subject matter Marvel has stayed away from for the duration of the MCU. As seen in the latest trailer released, it's full-on horror, and judging by at least one guy's jaw hanging off his face, it's shaping up to be quite the gruesome affair.
Shortly after Disney swooped in and bought the assets of 20th Century Fox, a major question mark around these parts was the status of Deadpool, the Ryan Reynolds-led franchise notoriously known for its hard-R rating. At the time, then-Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed the Mouse would still consider R-rated Marvel properties, should the company be able to adequately portray that message to the masses in an effort to protect families from inadvertently attending a showing of an adult-oriented Marvel feature.
Humor me for a second here — maybe we're seeing that effort Iger mentioned unfold in front of our very eyes. Maybe that effort is to remove that Marvel brand until the Mouse knows exaclty how people will react to the unknown. You see, there's no way Marvel Studios avoids Helstrom entirely. It may not carry the beloved Marvel Studios brand, but it's guaranteed a producer underneath Feige that will watch it. Feige himself may even tune in on the odd chance he hasn't seen it already.
There are accountants somewhere in the bowels of Disney HQ that will be looking at the views of the show and the revenue it generates through subscriptions and advertisements. At the end of the day, Hulu's also owned by Disney — and why wouldn't Disney want at least some of its largest franchise on the streaming platform?
Most importantly, though — the decision-makers will be watching how the general populace reacts to characters, tones, and plot devices they've never seen from Marvel before. Come October and Helstrom finally drops on Hulu, it's likely the argument over whether the show is canon will reign supreme. Among the hustle and bustle of spooky season and fandom debates, there's one thing evident — there's a possibility Helstrom could be just the tip of the iceberg for Marvel Studios when it comes to horrow.
We know Mahershala Ali will star in Blade, whenever that may be. We know Feige and Marvel Studios want to eventually tip their toes into horror, something that most definitely doesn't adhere to the Disney+ brand. Maybe, just maybe, Helstrom can be the beginning of a whole new world for Marvel Studios2comments
Helstrom hits Hulu on October 16th.
What other characters would you like to see the Helstroms team up with in the MCU? Let us know your thoughts either in the comments section or by tweeting our writer @AdamBarnhardt to chat all things Marvel!