As you probably all know by now, Agents of SHIELD is laying a lot of the groundwork for the Inhumans movie in the second season. They haven't come out and said it just yet, but we all know exactly what's going on. This is a huge step forward for the TV show, and sets a precedent that I hope will continue. The state of the MCU right now is such that Agents of SHIELD can play an incredibly huge role in it in the years to come. In this article, I will discuss the various ways that the TV show could and very likely will interact with some of the upcoming movies.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
The first and most obvious movie that AoS might interact with is the second Avengers movie. Each Avengers movie is the pinnacle of its respective phase, the thing that brings all the disparate parts of the Marvel Universe together. While I don't think its likely we will be seeing any of the AoS characters in the movie, it will undoubtedly have an impact on the show.
The first season of AoS took place in the wake of the battle of New York and the Extremis incident from Iron Man 3, and often dealt with fallout from those events. That's the thing about the first season of AoS: it did interact with the larger MCU, but it was reactive rather than proactive. Things happened in the movies, and Coulson and his team dealt with the aftermath. Even the season's big turning point, the Hydra reveal, was something that happened in a movie that the characters then reacted to.
Towards the very end of the season, however, the show did take a step forward: it rebooted SHIELD. If you only watched the movies, then as far as you would know going into Age of Ultron, SHIELD is completely gone, so really, the first major step towards becoming a proactive part of the MCU was the reformation of SHIELD.
The next question is, then, will SHIELD have any role to play in the upcoming movie? I haven't heard any word either way on this. Yes, Nick Fury is appearing, yes, Hydra will be present in some way, yes, we'll have a few former SHIELD agents (Black Widow, Hawkeye, Maria Hill), but mostly the movie seems to be focusing on how the Avengers have managed since the fall of SHIELD. SHIELD brought them all together, and without it they will have had to make their own way in the world.
However, events in AoS may still affect AoU. Depending on what Hydra gets up to in the back half of the season, there may be a little bit of set-up done for their role in Avengers. In addition, there have been rumors going around (fueled by Clark Gregg himself, no less) that Hawkeye will be appearing in the show. If true, this could do two things: fill us in a bit on where Hawkeye has been since Avengers so that they can spend a little less time on it in the movie, and set-up for his role in the second movie, which is said to be a fairly important one. It would also give him a chance to interact with Mockingbird, who, in the comics, is his wife.
That said, I think that if AoS interacts with AoU at all, it will be more reactive, with the team dealing with the aftermath of Ultron's rampage.
Captain America: Civil War
Let's skip Ant-Man, because I don't think AoS is going to have much to do with that. I could be wrong, but Ant-Man will premiere a while after season two of AoS wraps up, so connectivity would be a bit harder. There might be a name drop or two, but I think that will probably be as far as it goes.
The next logical choice, then, is Captain America: Civil War. This one could be big. I think they can lay a lot of the groundwork for this movie in Agents of SHIELD. There have already been rumors about Speedball appearing in the show, and for those of you who are unfamiliar with the comics, he is a very important part of the Civil War storyline. Essentially, he is part of the reason that the war starts in the first place. You see, Speedball was part of a group of superheroes known as the New Warriors. They had a reality tv show documenting their exploits, and one day when filming their apprehension of some villains, a member of the team named Nitro creates an explosion that kills a large number of civilians. This makes the general public realize that superheroes are more dangerous than they thought, and thus the call for registration begins.
Given that the New Warriors are not exactly a well-known group of heroes, they would be perfect for Agents of SHIELD. They could introduce them one by one over the next couple seasons, perhaps even changing their origin a little bit to make them Inhumans like they did with Daisy/Quake, and show the formation of their team, the inception of their TV show, and eventually the accident.
That's right, I said it. The accident should happen on Agents of SHIELD. They could reshow it in Civil War if they wanted to, or they could use news footage to explain it to those who don't watch the series, but I think it would be a huge boon to the show to actually have such a momentous event occur on it. Instead of laying all the groundwork for the accident and then leaving it up to the movie to show the event itself, it would make more sense to just include the event on the show. If they planned the season right, they could have it end with this accident and then have Cap 3 launch right after it.
Aside from the accident, however, they could use the show to build a lot of tension in the MCU. They could document the ways in which the public becomes increasingly wary of superheroes. Throughout this season and the next (and perhaps on the Netflix shows as well) we could watch as public opinion of superheroes slowly shifts, and then makes the final leap with the accident. The public is already against SHIELD, but it seems they are still pretty okay with superheroes, though the Avengers are pretty much the only ones they've seen so far. As more superheroes start to get introduced via Agents of SHIELD, and they become more and more exposed to the public, we should start to see some tension bubbling beneath the surface.
The last thing I think they could do on Agents to set up for Civil War is to bring in the secret identity element. Of the superheroes we have so far, none of them have secret identities. They are all known to the public both by their superhero and civilian names. If AoS introduces us to more heroes, they should give them secret identities. It may not necessarily have to play a major role in the movie, like it did in the comics, but acknowledging that aspect of the Registration Act would be nice.
Now we're skipping a ways ahead, as there aren't really any good reasons at this point why the show should tie to Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, or Black Panther. Of those, Black Panther would be the most likely, but it seems that Avengers 2 and Civil War will be the ones setting up for that movie.
Now, as I said at the beginning of the article, we all know that Agents of SHIELD is, in fact, laying the groundwork for Inhumans. One of the main characters of the show as well as one of the primary recurring villains are both Inhumans, and Skye's dad... might be? Still not sure on that one, actually, because I'm not sure if Cal ever held the Diviner, but I suppose it doesn't really matter either way.
In the back half of the season, I'm sure we will be introduced to some more Inhumans, though they will probably be the lesser known ones, which is saying something because the Inhumans in and of themselves aren't all that well known to non-comic book fans. Fans have speculated that the eyeless Inhuman seen at the end of the midseason finale is Reader, a relatively new (and thus lesser known) Inhuman. I wouldn't be expecting to see Black Bolt or Namor show up. Not just yet, anyways.
If you ask me, Agents should introduce us to the Inhumans who will be in the movie. All of them. They've got years to do it, though they would probably introduce them closer to the release date of the actual movie. My logic here is that introducing them in AoS would give them time to develop them further, give them each more characterization. They could get a little more in depth. You see, the problem with team-up movies is that you have a very limited amount of time to introduce and develop all of the heroes and also to give them all proper characterization, while still moving the plot along. Just take X-Men, for example. How many of the mutants do you really get know, and how well do you get to know them? The answers are "Only a few" and "Not super well," respectively. In each movie, there are a few mutants that get developed well (usually the same ones) and the rest get shoved to the background and essentially exist just to showcase their powers. Days of Future Past was a prime example of this. Though it was a great movie, it was packed with mutants who were really cool, but didn't get a chance to do anything more than fight Sentinels in the future and die.
Now, obviously there are some problems with this method of introduction, the primary one is that you would have to rely on people watching the TV show in order to understand the movie. If the show takes the trajectory I've postulated so far, incrementally increasing its importance to the movies, then any serious fan of the MCU should be watching the show anyways. However, the serious fans are probably already watching the show, because by "serious" I mean they care enough about the world to consume every piece of media they can get their hands on that relates to it. There might be more serious fans forming in the next few years, but there will always be casual fans who just want to watch the movies, and that's fine. The movies are spectacles, meant to be enjoyed by just about everybody, whereas the TV show is more of a commitment designed for those who want to get a little more in-depth with the world.
The question is, then, how would you introduce the characters on the show and still make the movie appeal to casual fans. If they come into it and the movie gives no explanation for who the characters are, they're going to leave the movie theater confused and unsatisfied. The solution is similar to the one I posited for Civil War: just briefly summarize things in the movie. Perhaps have an opening monologue that explains things while showing clips from Agents of SHIELD (which also might encourage more people to watch the show).
The other big problem is that they will be casting big name Hollywood actors for the movie, most likely, and it is generally difficult to get one big name Hollywood actor to come and do a TV show, let alone a few of them. One solution would be to cast some lesser known actors, but for a lesser known superhero team, you need big names to draw people in. The next solution would be to stipulate in the contract that they have to free up some time to do an episode or two of AoS. This might make it harder to cast people, but it might pay off in the long run as well. Lastly, they could cast different actors in the movie and show, but I don't think anyone would really be happy with that.
Anyways, it's clear to me that Agents of SHIELD will be playing a big role in the future of the MCU. Marvel is still doing great, unique things with their franchise, things that have never been done before, and I'm sure the trend will continue for years to come. Let me know your thoughts on the matter in the comments below. Thanks for reading!