When Marvel revealed Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the fact that it existed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans were excited over a single unified universe. Now in its fourth season, and following some structural changes between Marvel Studios and Marvel TV, this shared universe is beginning to rear its head as a weakness for the Marvel television series.
Simply put, the Marvel shows feature C or D-list heroes that only reference larger events in the movies that feature the A-listers. As great as the Netflix series are, they’re not your A-list Marvel heroes like Spider-Man or Captain America, and you’ll probably never see Steve Rogers interacting with the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. due to how separate Marvel TV and Marvel Studios are now. Not long ago Disney put Kevin Feige fully in charge of Marvel Studios and as a result they’ve moved even farther away from synergy with Marvel TV.
What was once a big feather in Marvel’s cap (the shared universe) is now something that’s hurting the TV shows in comparison with what DC is doing.
Where Marvel can’t have its A-lister heroes on television, DC can as they’re doing the multiverse concept that’s always been part of the DC Universe. With the DC shows and movies existing in their own separate Earths, it allows the DC shows to have actual A-lister superheroes with Superman showing up on Supergirl in the show’s second season.
DC TV still does have some heroes “off limits” to them, but as the limitations eased with Superman it wouldn’t be shocking if other heroes popped up in the Arrowverse. There have been some brewing rumors lately of Aquaman either showing up or being hinted at in one of the CW shows this year. Would we see Batman or Wonder Woman pop up? Doubtful, but The Flash already referenced Hal Jordan so I wouldn’t be shocked if we see a Lantern at some point. We’re already going to see The Legion of Superheros and the Justice Society, so the DC shows are delivering on big superheroes.
And the big four-show crossover this season is said to deal with an alien threat from the comics that’s the sort of thing Marvel would save for one of the movies. But we’re getting it on television with real superheroes dealing with the invasion. That’s why the new seasons of The CW’s superhero shows are much more exciting than what Marvel is doing.
It’s more fun to see superheros than to just hear about them doing things off screen.