The Marvel Cinematic Universe is, in monetary terms at least, the biggest movie franchise ever, grossing about nine billion dollars over 12 films. Incredibly successful, it has also seen a massive expansion onto the small screen over the past three years, producing Agent Carter and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with ABC, as well as making a deal with Netflix to produce 4 TV shows – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, as well as a Defenders miniseries. In total, Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel Television, says that there are currently nine or ten shows in various stages of development.
With its unprecedented scale, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been praised by many for its ability to weave in aspects of other films and TV shows, whilst still being able to tell a standalone tale. Mostly, this connection is film-to-film, or film-to-TV, and very rarely, TV-to-film. With the serialised format of the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., however, it’s strange that the show hasn’t had much of an impact on the movies. Indeed, in its first season, Agents had most of its episodes dragging on, awaiting the aftermath of the events in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when it was revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been infiltrated by terrorist organisation HYDRA years before.
But now the tables have turned, with the show breaking out of the restrictions The Winter Soldier placed on it. For example, the second season of Agents revolved around the introduction of the Inhumans – a race of alien-human hybrids. Their powers are activated by a vapour called Terrigen Mist, a mutagenic substance that activates the latent genetic potential in their alien DNA and grants them superpowers. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has recently seen a growing influx of Inhumans after Terrigen crystals (from which Terrigen Mist is derived) were released into the ocean, contaminating fish and other marine animals.
A lot of the action so far on the third season of Agents has involved Inhumans in a big way, with S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to contain and/or control this rapidly growing minority. Sounds very familiar to a certain upcoming blockbuster, no?
In the most recent episode of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, the President of the United States claimed that ‘Fox News won’t shut up [about Inhumans]’. In a world where people have a non-trivial chance of becoming a superhuman simply by eating fish-related products, it’s clear that powers are not just a once in a generation quirk, but ‘powers are the new normal’.
Yet Captain America: Civil War, which seeks to address the issue of accountability re: superhuman individuals, has made no mention of the Inhumans at all, even in passing. Yes, the Avengers are the most profile superhuman individuals; no one could ever dispute that, but given that there’s actually canonically been a large amount of news coverage in the TV show about the outbreak of Inhumans, it’s rather strange to look back and realise that the film (apparently) doesn’t seem to be taking into account that little factoid from the show at all.
The Sokovia Accords have been presented as only being there to regulate the Avengers – but why not the other superhumans who just broke into the scene, whose very introduction shook the pillars of the world and caused riots, paranoia, even a government agency to be founded to protect the world from them? Civil War can be either about a dozen people, or it can be about the hundreds, thousands of superhumans coming into their hitherto undiscovered heritage, running around unaccounted for with no training and no oversight, raising the stakes of the film beyond just the uncontrollable shenanigans of less than ten people. As fellow blogger nkay96 says, we’re ready for real drama to elevate the MCU.
As mentioned earlier, the TV side has made it pretty clear that this is a known problem in the world at this point, and so it is genuinely rather weird to see that so far, the focus of the Accords is purely on the Avengers.
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand in size, Feige et al. need to look at integrating more of the TV side into their films; its tiny little details like these that are essential to maintaining its cohesiveness and the magic that so captured audiences with the build-up to The Avengers (2012).
Captain America: Civil War hits theatres on May 6th (in the US). If you liked this, feel free to share it with your friends, and if not, share it anyway, all it takes is a single click :).