ByTom Bacon, writer at
I'm a film-and-TV fan who grew up with a deep love of superhero comics! Follow me on Twitter @TomABacon or on Facebook @tombaconsuperheroes!
Tom Bacon

"It's all connected."

Back in October 2016, we were given a tantalizing hint that Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would soon cross over with the popular Netflix shows. Asked about the possibility, Jeph Loeb gave the classic response: "Stay tuned." He knows there's demand, and he knew that comment would whet our appetites. In the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., "The Patriot", we just got a tantalizing hint how that could happen, as we got a fantastic Easter Egg — and a subtle plot — that ties the different Marvel shows together!

How to Deal with a Super-Soldier

[Credit: Netflix]
[Credit: Netflix]

Luke Cage introduced us to the Judas bullets: bullets based on Chitauri technology, which could even penetrate Luke Cage's near-invincible skin. Upon contact with any surface, the Judas bullet digs in, and then detonates. Now, in "The Patriot", Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. saw the same bullets fired at Jeffrey Mace; it's notable that the bullet digs into the podium and then detonates, exactly like the Judas bullet.

Of course, cast back to The Avengers and you can't help noting that these Judas bullets weren't used by the Chitauri. The Chitauri element in this is actually just the metal, which seems to be denser than almost any metal on Earth (the sole exception is likely vibranium). Human scientists used this metal to create a weapon for use against superhumans.

Here's the question, though; why is the world investing so much effort to create weapons against super-soldiers? There aren't a lot of them running around, and yet this technology has already reached the streets! "The Patriot" actually gives us the answer.

This nifty little Easter Egg is the most explicit link we've seen between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Marvel Netflix shows — but it's far from the only connective tissue between these shows.

The Quest for Super-Soldiers

The US Government has been working to create super-soldiers since the days of Captain America: The First Avenger, but experiments had little success — well, unless you count the creation of the Hulk and the Abomination! All that changed as a result of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2. That was the season where S.H.I.E.L.D. crossed swords with Doctor Calvin Zabo, better known to fans as 'Mr. Hyde'. Zabo had created a formula that granted him superhuman strength and endurance, and frankly it was an insane cocktail of dangerous drugs including:

  • Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids
  • Live Enzyme Blocker
  • Various Metabolic Enhancers
  • Methamphetamines
  • Gorilla Testosterone
  • A Drop of Peppermint
Mr. Hyde in 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'. [Credit: ABC]
Mr. Hyde in 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'. [Credit: ABC]

The next hint we have of super-soldier formulas is actually in , where we're introduced to the version of a character known as Nuke. Played by Wil Traval, the character had signed up to experiment with combat enhancers. These affect the adrenal glands, granting enhanced strength, immunity to pain, and superhuman healing. To give an idea, Nuke was able to go toe-to-toe with Jessica Jones herself! It's actually hinted that Jessica Jones herself was exposed to a version of this combat enhancer, and that's the source of her superhuman powers; hopefully Jessica Jones Season 2 will give us some more insight into the origin of her powers.

We don't know if those combat enhancers are connected to Zabo's formula (maybe the projects have dovetailed), but we do know that Government scientists continued working to reverse-engineer his formula, and fix its flaws. The result, as we learned in "The Patriot", is Jeffrey Mace; the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., who can inject himself with a serum to grant a temporary burst of superhuman strength and endurance (even if he can't quite match Ghost Rider!). You can see how useful this serum would be; a team of soldiers could take it just before a mission, enabling them to overwhelm their enemies!

The combat enhancers and Zabo's formula may or may not be linked, but they both give us a glimpse of a world that's swiftly adapting to superhumans. In this world, military powers (specifically the US military) are working hard to create their own super-soldiers, and serums and pills look to be a common approach. So far, metahumans are rare; but super-soldier programs are about to make them far more common.

Will There Be More Connections?

'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' [Credit: ABC]
'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' [Credit: ABC]

Both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the phenomenally successful shows are clearly giving us a glimpse of a world that's gotten used to the idea of superhumans. The world's powers have clearly recognized that 'enhanced' people are the new super-weapons — and that ways to deal with these superhumans need to be devised.

But although these two strands of Marvel TV are clearly interwoven, will they ever tie together? Could we yet see an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. / Netflix crossover of some sort? Loeb's answer teases at the possibility, but there's one problem; the timeline. While Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is essentially set in real-time, aligning itself to the latest MCU film, this year's Marvel Netflix shows are still set in early 2016 — predating the signing of the Sokovia Accords, as these would massively complicate the Netflix corner of the MCU.

Concept art from 'Captain America: Civil War'. [Credit: Marvel Studios]
Concept art from 'Captain America: Civil War'. [Credit: Marvel Studios]

That problem may actually turn into an opportunity, though. Sooner or later, the Sokovia Accords are going to have to come up in the Netflix shows; time is passing between each series (The Defenders is set a couple of months after Daredevil Season 2, for example). But Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 opened with Coulson and Mack working as a team of field agents, heading out to identify and register enhanced assets. Is it possible that one of their missions will take this team to New York, where they cross paths with one or more of the Defenders?

Cloak and Dagger

Cloak and Dagger. [Credit: Marvel Comics]
Cloak and Dagger. [Credit: Marvel Comics]

Meanwhile, it's possible that Marvel is deliberately emphasizing super-soldier serums. In April 2016, we learned that one of the upcoming Marvel Television shows is Cloak and Dagger. We don't yet know much about the project, which was described thusly:

"The live-action interracial romance follows the duo, two teenagers from very different backgrounds, who find themselves burdened and awakened to newly acquired superpowers while falling in love — Tandy can emit light daggers and Tyrone has the ability to engulf others in darkness. They quickly learn they are better together than apart, but their feelings for each other make their already complicated world even more challenging."

In the comics, Cloak and Dagger were two runaways who were captured and subjected to illegal drug tests; somehow, whether as a result of the drugs, their being latent mutants, or any of a dozen other reasons, the two became tied to an energy known as the Darkforce. The Darkforce, of course, has already been introduced into the MCU; otherwise known as Zero Matter, it was the subject of Agent Carter Season 2, and was explored in a Season 1 episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

We already know from Luke Cage that ways to deal with superhumans are getting on to the streets; how long will it be before some of those experiments wind up being conducted by criminals, seeking to create their own superhuman enforcers? All you need then is for Cloak and Dagger to stumble into one of those experiments, which ties the serum concept in to the Darkforce, and you've got the launch of Cloak and Dagger. Yes, as well as tying Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Netflix shows together, "The Patriot" prepared the ground for another Marvel TV show!

See also:

For now, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Netflix shows are uniting to give us a glimpse of a world that's increasingly dark and dangerous, where superhuman powers have been embraced as military assets. At the same time, weapons like the Judas bullets are being developed as a counter. We can clearly see the direction Marvel Television is traveling in right now — and it looks like it's going to be a wild ride!


Would you trust the Government with super-soldiers?

(Poll Image Credit: Marvel Studios)


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