Like Thanos, this was all but inevitable. Marvel Television will be closed down and all remaining projects will be rolled into Marvel Studios. This is not a surprise. First, Marvel’s Runaways will end with its third season, and the Ghost Rider series got canceled before production began. There remains only a live-action Helstrom series still in development for Hulu. A handful animation series also may be in development for the Disney-owned streamer. They are reportedly still developing a collection of adult animated series to culminate in The Offenders crossover. They are also developing a Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur series for Disney in partnership with Laurence Fishburne’s production company. Now, these are Marvel Studios projects.
Along with the last season of Runaways on Hulu, the final season of Agents of SHIELD will still air on ABC Networks in the summer. Yet, unless Helstrom ends up being a massive, unexpected hit, the live-action studios at Marvel Television will be closed. Some projects and personnel will remain, now working for Marvel Studios proper. Other projects in development will likely halt, and employees involved in them will probably not make the transition. This is a big deal, because while not as well known as the movie side, Marvel Television played a big role in the company’s pop culture dominance.
What Was Marvel Television?
Image via Marvel Television
In 2010, when Marvel knew their live-action studios experiment could work, they apportioned their resources. Kevin Feige ran the movie side of the house, and comics legend Jeph Loeb took control of Marvel Television. The first series, Agents of SHIELD was a direct tie-in to the movie universe, promising that the whole thing would be connected. Except, they cast Clark Gregg whose death in Avengers was a key moment. Thus, Marvel Television’s flagship series and the movie universe would never cross over. Still, Loeb was a good soldier. When things happened the films, such as the destruction of SHIELD, the shows responded and even helped to tease/promote the films. Yet, as deals with networks like Netflix and others closed, the chasm between the MCU and the Marvel Television universe grew wider.
When Disney entered the picture, the divide became all but permanent. While Jeph Loeb still had to report to the mercurial Ike Perlmutter, Feige would report directly to Disney’s Bob Iger. As the chances of a television crossover with films evaporated, Loeb focused on his own crossovers. The Netflix deal gave birth to The Defenders. Cloak and Dagger will crossover with Runaways this season, although this shared teen universe ended up grounded before it took off. Still, even this summer, Jeph Loeb touted the promise of Marvel Television in an interview. He sounded very much like a man who hoped his unit would continue to have success with or without Marvel Studios.
Why We All Knew Marvel Television Would Be Closed
Image via Marvel Television
When Kevin Feige took over the entirety of Marvel’s creative resources, many assumed that Marvel Television was all but closed already. Loeb and Feige reportedly didn’t have a great working relationship. (Though, to your humble correspondent this seems more about Perlmutter than any animosity towards Loeb.) Yet, shortly after Feige’s promotion, the news leaked that Jeph Loeb would step down as the head of Marvel Television. With the new Marvel series heading to Disney+ and produced by Marvel Studios, the writing was on the wall. In an unfair dig to Loeb, Feige said that “for the first time” the series and the films would be connected. What this actually means is that for the first time, the films will acknowledge the series. (Though, the Jarvis character in Endgame did originate on Agent Carter’s short-lived series.)
Jeph Loeb and Marvel Television Deserve as Much Credit as Marvel Studios
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Agents of SHIELD got off to a rough start. Ironically, the series really came into its own at the strangest time: after Captain America destroyed SHIELD in his second film. The characters still did the job of the agency but now as outlaws. Eventually, they went in their own direction and produced some of their best seasons as they bring the Zephyr in for a landing one last time. Also, the Netflix shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage were genuine cultural sensations. (Also, Iron Fist had its flaws, but it always got a bad rap.) Even though the movie side of Marvel ignored Marvel TV, they still made those series feel adjacent to the MCU, at least. And they often told stories that appealed to new Marvel fans and comics die-hard fans alike.
Agents of SHIELD is definitely going air as is the last season of Runaways. Beyond that, however, is anyone’s guess. Also unclear will be if there will be any non-Disney+ series connected to the MCU in the future. Last summer the head of ABC said they hoped for a new female-led superhero show to replace Agents of SHIELD. However, now, all of those decisions are in Kevin Feige’s hands, arguably now one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood. Some staff are joining the new unit, but layoffs are expected, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
What was your favorite Marvel Television series and are you sorry the studio is closed? Or do you like the idea that Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige can finally put together a truly cohesive shared universe? Let us know below.
Featured image via ABC
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.