Now, when it eventually comes time to tally up the legends of Marvel's Cinematic Universe, there aren't going to be too many more obvious figures for superhero canonization than Joss Whedon. Sure, Kevin Feige may be the man-with-the-plan, and Robert Downey Jr. may be the big box-office draw, but Whedon - director of two distinctly fantastic Avengers movies - remains a strong contender for Marvel MVP.
That, though, doesn't mean he's always going to toe the Marvel line, it seems - with Whedon's most recent announcement regarding the MCU revealing something pretty darned shocking - not least, you'd imagine, to the higher-ups at Marvel Studios.
Y'see, Whedon - who, it seems, is taking advantage of Avengers: Age of Ultron's release to celebrate his new-found freedom from the MCU's creative bonds - just revealed that:
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ISN'T Part of the MCU
Yup. That's right. According to Whedon, in a recent interview with Mental Floss, Marvel's whole television division is "its own subsection of the Marvel universe" - meaning that in the Avengers movies, for instance, Agent Coulson remains very much dead.
As he put it, in full:
"A lot of people come back in The Winter Soldier. It’s a grand Marvel tradition. Bucky was supposed to die. And the Coulson thing was, I think, a little anomalous just because that really came from the television division, which is sort of considered to be its own subsection of the Marvel universe. As far as the fiction of the movies, Coulson is dead."
Which, it seems, Whedon - despite being one of the creators, and an executive producer, of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - made sure Avengers: Age of Ultron didn't acknowledge.
"But I have to say, watching the first one with my kids—I had not watched the first one since it came out—and then watching it with my kids and watching Coulson die but [thinking], “Yeah, but I know that he kind of isn’t,” it did take some of the punch out of it for me. Of course, I spent a lot of time making sure he didn’t. And at the time it seemed inoffensive, as long as it wasn’t referenced in the second movie, which it isn’t."
Indeed, as he puts it:
It's Up To Us To Decide Whether Coulson's Alive Or Not
"There’s a thing where you can do that so many times and there’s nothing at stake. But it’s difficult because you’re living in franchise world—not just Marvel, but in most big films—where you can’t kill anyone, or anybody significant. And now I find myself with a huge crew of people and, although I’m not as bloodthirsty as some people like to pretend, I think it’s disingenuous to say we’re going to fight this great battle, but there’s not going to be any loss. So my feeling in these situations with Marvel is that if somebody has to be placed on the altar and sacrificed, I’ll let you guys decide if they stay there."
Which, from Whedon's perspective - as someone who's having to make a coherent movie out of a thousand strands of MCU storytelling - makes a of sense. After all, he's directing one movie, not the whole MCU.
That being said, though:
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Clearly IS in the MCU
Y'see, the only real problem with Whedon's whole logic, is that it's demonstrably not true.
With Nick Fury, Maria Hill and a whole bunch of other characters all making appearances in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and the show directly referencing (and being directly affected by) pretty much every single major event in the movies, it's pretty clear that it is, in fact, a part of the MCU.
Which is to say nothing about Agent Carter, or of Daredevil and the rest of Netflix's forthcoming Marvel shows - all of which are very pointedly a part of the wider MCU.
Going right the way back to this trailer, in fact...
...Marvel have never been anything but clear that the MCU spans both television and films.
So, Joss Whedon's disagreement over that fact? That's quite possibly a pretty solid explanation for why he won't be returning to direct Avengers: Infinity War, in which Netflix's heroes and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gang will likely appear.
After all, Coulson's going to have to come back to the movies sooner or later, right?
What do you reckon, though?
Are Marvel's TV Shows part of the MCU?