Welcome back to The Comic Section Blog! This particular topic is the second part to a two-part story. If you haven't read "Part 1", you can find it here: https://www.thecomicsectionnetwork.com/post/the-marvel-universe-on-tv-part-1-the-rise-of-marvel-television
Come 2017, Marvel had already attempted to revive their Mockingbird show plans with a spin-off to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. called Most Wanted that ABC passed on for being too similar to its predecessor. Two comedy shows were also pitched, one focusing on the construction and clean up company Damage Control for ABC, and another about a new team of young adult heroes called The New Warriors for FreeForm. Damage Control was taken out of Marvel Television's hands to be used in the film Spider-Man: Homecoming, meanwhile Disney loved the pilot for The New Warriors, but FreeForm passed on it due to a full fall airing slate. Ultimately, it would never get picked up anywhere else.
To take a sidebar for a moment, The New Warriors was a show that I was absolutely looking forward to. With the limitations set upon them by Marvel Studios, the show would've combined members of The Great Lakes Avengers with select members of different New Warriors teams from throughout their comics history, making the roster Squirrel Girl, Night Thrasher, Speedball, Debrii, Mr. Immortal, and Microbe. I grew up with 90's Spider-Man comics that featured a whole host of guest heroes, but two that have always had special places in my heart are Night Thrasher and Speedball; Couple that with my love of The Great Lakes Avengers, wherein Mr. Immortal was a founding member in the comics, and I was absolutely sold when the show was announced. The villain of the first season would've been MODOK, and overall it sounded like everyone involved had a blast making the pilot. To this day, I feel it's a shame the series never saw the light of day.
Anyway, this was becoming something of a new pattern for Marvel. Even before the problems they faced with Iron Fist and The Inhumans, Marvel was continually trying new things in attempts to pull in new audiences and test fan expectations; Projects with unique voices and perspectives that'd push their quality in higher, better directions. Unfortunately, they weren't all taking. All the while, they even had an untitled project being developed by director John Ridley, who had just come off of the success of Twelve Years a Slave, as well as two female-lead projects - One a drama, one a comedy - that were all set to air on ABC and would end up not being picked up in the long run, despite long developmenal processes. There's still no word on what these projects were, but there'd be more missed opportunities to come, but we'll get to those later.
Back to Netflix, The Defenders finally aired in November of 2017, featuring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and even supporting characters Misty Knight and Colleen Wing all meeting and teaming up to battle The Hand, the mystical ninja clan built up in the Daredevil and Iron Fist shows. Anticipation still existed for the show, especially with Sigourney Weaver being cast as the show's villain, but it proved to be a disappointment for many who felt that it dragged with a thin plot and weak, unrecognizable villains not from the comics, and the only saving grace really being the chemistry between characters. It tried to recapture the magic of The Avengers, but unfortunately forgot what made the Netflix characters so appealing in the first place. One could speculate that the final product of The Defenders may have been drastically effected by the shake-ups at Marvel, in regards to the film division splitting ways. When The Defenders initiative was announced, it was toted as this major deal that would propel the Netflix heroes into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe narrative. You'd expect this would include a bigger, more well-known villain and a stronger plot that'd grapple onto what we now refer to as The Infinity Saga. But, with the split, it seems Marvel Television's intentions were cut short, and whatever they may have had access to before Marvel Studios went independent was now unattainable, despite the two companies maintaining a line of communication due to the circumstances, but not one nearly as strong as before that'd allow them to schedule accordingly for characters to cross pollinate into the movies. The Defenders is somewhat of an awkward reflection of a change in direction at Marvel Television in terms of what they were trying to accomplish, now. We'll talk more about it in a sec, but Marvel Television was gonna need to rely on themselves going forward. Everything was still "all connected", but now they were gonna have to look at their own smaller picture to build from...
Marvel would still try to turn things around before year's end, though, with two new projects that'd be a step in the right direction...
The Punisher was Marvel's Netflix fare returning to form, finally. A dark, brutal show dealing with a groundbreaking narrative that was praised by fans and critics alike. It took some liberties with Frank's origin, making it about a military conspiracy, and highlighting the unspoken and overlooked corruption within the branches of the United Stated Military, and the personal complications that come with it, as well as the trauma that veterans face in general from combat. The show made The Punisher and his war on crime far more sympathetic, and really proved that Marvel Television still knew what they were doing, despite the hiccups over the year. Whereas Frank Castle of the comics was an unfeeling machine, Frank in the show was a force of emotion that only saw one way to fix injustice. Jon Bernthal proved himself the perfect fit for the role of The Punisher, redefining the character for a whole new generation of fans.
The final series to cap off 2017 was The Runaways, which would be the first of two shows Marvel would air on Hulu.
It was another handmedown from Marvel Studios, who initially tried producing a film adaptation in 2011, but opted to shelve the project in favor of putting all of their focus on The Avengers in 2012. The show received moderately positive reviews. It was a clunky, but charming show praised for its comic accuracy and the chemistry between its teenage protagonists and their parental antagonists, as well as its uniqueness compared to other Marvel shows in being more of a teen drama. Unlike most of their shows, this one spent no time connecting to anything else outside of itself. The series focused on a group of kids - Chase, Alex, Karolina, Nico, Gert, and Molly - who discover their parents are members of an alien cult and decide to run away and fight against them, discovering themselves in the process. Marvel tried merging the best of both worlds with this one: The more larger-than-life science fiction tone of shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with the more grounded character and emotion-driven stories of the Netflix shows. It proved an entertaining attempt, though where one strives, the other falters, and while it never hurt the show entirely, it made for an awkward viewing experience. But, the show was fun, had a compelling story, as well as great, relatable characters, and audiences kept coming back which convinced Marvel and Hulu to renew the show.
Marvel Television's biggest year was 2018, and it'd be their most detrimental. While Marvel Studios was celebrating their ten year anniversary and gearing up to finally release The Avengers: Infinity War, - Bringing the mega arcs of their movies to a conclusion - Marvel Television had the fifth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to finish out, five Netflix shows that were renewed, as well as a second season of The Runaways, and a whole brand-new show they had been sitting on since the company first started.
After nearly being cancelled after season 4, Disney convinced ABC to pick Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. up for a fifth season in order to help promote The Avengers: Infinity War. Season 5 continued the show's advancement in pushing the boundaries, kicking off with the team mysteriously trapped in the far future, wherein Earth was destroyed and humanity now lives as slaves to the Kree Empire on a space station. They eventually make it back to the present with the second half of the season focusing on the team attempting to stop that future from ever happening. Season 5 was thought to be the final by the show's producers, thus they tried incredibly hard to wrap up every storyline they could, including giving Agent Coulson a final send-off as the wound that initially killed him in The Avengers began to take a toll on his body once again. The final four episodes did what Disney needed them to do and tied-into The Avengers: Infinity War, as Thanos is on his way to Earth with terrible plans for the entire universe, thus creating a motivation for the crazed-villain-who-believes-himself-a-hero to help The Avengers repel Thanos' threat. It was a good way to end the show, but Marvel Television got lucky as more people tuned in to see what Marvel was attempting to pull off with its biggest season, so ABC renewed the series for two more seasons, announcing these to be the final two.
Over at Netflix, things were a bit rocky once again. The return of the popular shows were met with much excitement, considering the long lapse between seasons of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage; But these once prolific shows were met with mixed reactions with audiences upon their return. Both were seen as mixed bags with messy stories, uncompelling new characters, and subpar threats that didn't meet up to the standards of their first seasons. Interestingly enough, many felt Iron Fist's second season was a massive step up from its first. Under Raven Metzner, the second season stepped back from the corporate politics and the complicated mystical ninja war between Iron Fist and the Hand and focused more on a personal narrative for Danny and his cast as he tries to figure out who he is now that he's left behind the mystical city of K'un L'un and taken up crimefighting in Daredevil's memory (After the character's supposed death in The Defenders). But, despite more favorable word-of-mouth, Iron Fist still didn't click with audiences.
The lackluster reaction to the Netflix shows' returns wouldn't last, though, with the third season of Daredevil, which came swinging as one of Marvel's best television offerings. Following the events of The Defenders, we find a broken Matt Murdock who must reconstruct himself and Daredevil in order to become a better man and hero. All the while, Wilson Fisk returns to power through his cunning, and upon learning Daredevil's secret identity, he manipulates the mentally unstable FBI agent Ben Poindexter into discrediting the hero further to pull Matt down into the darkness that he so desperately tries to crawl out of. The season was true to form, taking what worked about the first season and going totally primal with it, amplifying the raw emotions and pushing the characters toward hard directions that would challenge them to overcome. It was something the Marvel Cinematic Universe hadn't seen before, all the while maintaining something this side of the brand strived in: Focusing on [almost] everyday people and their struggles.
Once again, Marvel Television proved their worth by going back to what they strived best at. Unfortunately, this wouldn't entirely turn their luck around... When it came to the Netflix shows, tragedy struck: Netflix had opted to cancel all of Marvel's series by surprise. In a response to Disney's new position as a competitor with their then-forthcoming streaming service Disney+, Netflix decided they were no longer going to provide a platform for these lucrative shows as to not financially aid their competitors.
This was a huge blow.
Everyone at both Disney and Marvel were side-swiped entirely by this. It had even been revealed that Luke Cage was greenlit for a third season and that the producers were in the process of writing it when they heard the show was abruptly cancelled. Marvel Television's Jeph Loeb had even just been interviewed at the 2018 TCAs about the company's future with Netflix in the wake of Disney's announcement, and he expressed that they'd move forward with new seasons of their established shows, but wouldn't be sharing new IPs with Netflix. With these sweeping cancelations, the Netflix era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe went out without a sound, airing the second and final season of The Punisher, as well as the third and final season of Jessica Jones without much fanfare.
The shows came and went. All that was left were the remaining fans awaiting word that the shows would get picked up somewhere else, but it never came. Instead, we learned that there was a stipulation in the contracts that prevented Marvel from being able to use any of the IPs they shared with Netflix in other forms of media for up to two years after their shows' initial cancelations.
As of writing this post, all of the characters have now been returned to Marvel.
At the time, Marvel Television was feeling the impact, and despite having some fight left in them, it wouldn't be enough. A second season of The Runaways would air on Hulu, expanding on the themes of the first season, and amping up the science fiction aspects while progressing the story further by tying up old threads and streamlining new ones. The season even came to start tying the show back to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe with subtle ties to the film Doctor Strange and references to Wakanda. The season wouldn't break ground, but it was clear that there was more story to tell, with season 2 acting as more of a bridging narrative. Luckily a third season was greenlit at Hulu, which would prove a potential new treading ground for Marvel, now that Netflix had distanced themselves.
More on that in a sec.
But, in between all of this was a show I personally feel was criminally overlooked, and should be given the proper time of day by everyone who passed on it:
Cloak & Dagger.
The series aired on FreeForm, finally, in 2018 after nearly a decade of on-and-off development. Set in New Orleans, Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson are two teenagers scarred by traumatic pasts who discover they have powers that react to one another, and that to overcome their insecurities and emotional baggage they must join forces against the factors working against them. One of the best decisions the show made was to change their origins, as the one from the comics has its roots in the drug epidemic of the 70's and 80's, having their powers derive themselves from a strain of synthetic heroin (Later retconned into their powers being Mutant in nature, with the synthetic drug "unlocking" them). In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ty and Tandy get their powers from an experimental Roxxon oil rig explosion contaminating the lake they both fatefully fell into at the same time.
In season 1, Ty deals with the guilt of putting his older brother in a situation that got him shot and killed by police, while Tandy struggles with the loss of her father and the complete uprooting of her life by the shady energy company Roxxon that he worked for. Season 1 was pretty good start out the gate, with its socially aware commentary on subjects like police brutality and the very real issues within law enforcement departments to cover up the misdeeds of their officers through any means necessary. It makes for an emotional rollercoaster for Ty's story, which is amplified by the amazing performance by Aubrey Joseph. Tandy's story left a lot to be desired, unfortunately; Its faceless villain and tonally inconsistent stakes that take away from the very real themes at play make the first season's dual arcs a little disjointed, even despite Olivia Holt giving it her all by selling Tandy's emotional journey. It was a somewhat necessary arc that tied into the characters' origins in the show, but it didn't carry the needed weight needed for Tandy to be taken seriously.
The show's connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe was an interesting one: Unlike most of the shows, it was far more subtle, but also more in favor of the other TV shows than the films. Of course, the finale sees a reference to Tony Stark; Tyrone's powers are derived from the Dark Dimension, which had been explored in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter before being fully realized in Doctor Strange; And, of course, Roxxon had made a few brief appearances throughout other Marvel Cinematic Universe projects, with this being the third time they've played a role, and only the second time they were featured as antagonists, but the show doesn't make a big deal about any of this. Rather, these references are handled more like this is the first time they've ever been introduced, while simultaneously giving those of us who've been following the MCU the whole time something of a payoff to these smaller, less-explored details from other corners of the world. What the show does make a big deal out of is its connections to Luke Cage. Interestingly enough, Cloak & Dagger was actually referenced before the show even aired. One of its characters, Bridgid O'Reilly gets a name-drop in season 2 of Luke Cage as Misty talks about the changes in Harlem's police department, one of them being Bridgid's move to New Orleans, which we get to see. From there, Bridgid reminisces from time to time, in Cloak & Dagger, about her time in Harlem and her friendship to Misty, as well as knowing Ben Urich, The New York Bulletin reporter who was integral to the story of Daredevil's first season. This was significant to note because cross-over between projects on different platforms hadn't been as frequent as some would expect. The most we'd gotten was an appearance of the judas bullet from Luke Cage's first season in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fourth season, as well as the Daredevil series having a framed newspaper prop in The New York Bulletin offices that referenced Cybertek, from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first season. But, up until Cloak & Dagger, that'd been the extent with all the shows more or less only referencing other projects that shared a network, if not just letting their ties to the films carry their ties to eachother. This shift in continuity references for Marvel Television may have been a great example of their need to be self-reliant since Marvel Studios became their own separate company, leaving Marvel Television to fend for themselves. It was starting to look like Marvel Television was taking everything they'd learn over the last six years and trying to finally carve their own path away from the movies, making shows that could stand on their own and draw in audiences without the crutch of the popular movies, but establishing a new foundation where they could potentially garner hype with cross-overs between their own projects.
Despite the transition being short-lived, this was just the beginning.
When season 2 of Cloak & Dagger premiered in 2019 it became clear that Marvel had truly learned from their mistakes and were, finally, ready to overcome everything they had issues with in their past projects. Picking up months later, Ty and Tandy's lives are reversed with the former on the run and the latter rebuilding her life. Ty starts using his powers to clean up New Orleans while Tandy learns terrible truths about her father and comes across a trafficking ring that sends her on a compelling and emotional journey to becoming a hero in her own right, rectifying the issues with her first season narrative. The season was one of the strongest additions to Marvel Television's repertoire, with the only weak link being Bridgid's dual identities, which was a part of the second season's promotion as she was set to take on her comic book villain role, Mayhem. But, the show naturally veers into a different direction with a better villain that represents the insecurities of our heroes in thematic ways that helps propel them into their comic book roles by the end, and manages to even give Mayhem a different role to play in the larger story. I'd venture to say that it's on par with Daredevil's third season in terms of quality: The performances are solid, the stories are compelling, the entire season is captivating, the emotions are raw, the tones are consistent, all the while the show exemplified everything Marvel Television strived at and was about: Stories about [almost] everyday people becoming heroes to protect those of us on the ground from the threats right in front of us, and the way it's executed here is so genuine and full of heart, it's a shame the show isn't talked about more. It really was absolutely defining of Marvel Television's appeal.
Season 2 would be the end of Cloak & Dagger's show, but not the end of their appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe just yet. I'll get into its cancelation later, but in an interesting move it was announced that Cloak & Dagger would cross-over into the third season of The Runaways!
The former's finale teased this with the final moments showing Tandy and Ty getting on a bus out of New Orleans to follow a lead in California of young women washing up on beaches, referencing the launching conflict of The Runaways' first season. This was pretty big considering the two shows were on completely different platforms and worked on by different creative teams. This had been the ultimate culmination of Marvel's attempt at creating a unified front with their television projects, especially after Cloak & Dagger's second season leaned harder into their Luke Cage references, establishing the character's importance outside of his own show as an inspiration to a lot more people than just those in Harlem.
Season 3 of The Runaways came with the goal of wrapping things up, all the while attempting to unify itself with the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe in fun ways that made the continuity between everything feel that much stronger. It was almost like a victory lap of celebrating coming this far without the help of the larger universe by making up for not prioritizing it. Completing Karolina's arc of self-discovery, the third season takes a more mystical turn by focusing more on Nico, her family's use of The Staff of One, and its ties back to the Dark Dimension (As the staff, and Nico's mother both first appeared in a cameo in Doctor Strange). The show takes the opportunity to introduce a new villain with Morgan le Fey, and created a tie back to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. by reintroducing the Darkhold from season 4 of that show. Because of the genre shifts from science fiction to fantasy, season 3 of The Runaways is somewhat disjointed. Especially when to make the narrative transitions, the show very clumsily resolves the series-long conflict between the kids and their parents, almost to the point of simply forgetting it. It's not entirely strong, but manages to end itself on a clean enough note that allowed fans of the show to have some kind of closure with season 3 being its last.
Again, I'll get into its cancelation in a moment...
But, with the exploration of the Dark Dimension, it brings The Runaways face-to-face with Cloak & Dagger in the eighth episode of the season. The cross-over wasn't the best as a lot of opportunities were missed for a basic story that saw the characters (And not even all of the characters...) taking a tour of the Dark Dimension, but between this and the Darkhold, it felt like Marvel Television might be trying their hand at a larger shared narrative between their shows, like the movies had achieved, and overall it was nice to see The Runaways get roped into the larger universe especially when - Despite the complications in transitioning storylines - the connections were natural and progressive to one of the main characters' stories.
In-between, Marvel Television aired their sixth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which was highly-anticipated. The season aired after the release of Marvel Studios' ultimate event film The Avengers: Endgame, which finally tied up the mega-arcs of their twenty-two film epic. The film revealed that five years had passed since the villain Thanos snapped his fingers, erasing 50% of the universe's living inhabitants at the end of The Avengers: Infinity War - An event that concurred with the final four episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fifth season. So, there were expectations put upon the show to either detail the aftermath of The Avengers: Infinity War, or show the world after The Avengers: Endgame turned everything around.
...it didn't do any of that.
Marvel Television & co. decided to take a completely different approach to this season of the show by completely ignoring the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe simply to stay true to itself, and boy...! Did people have problems with this. Picking up a year after season 5, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s sixth season sees the team broken up: Coulson is dead, Quake and Simmons are in space looking for Fitz's animatedly suspended body, while he, too, is traveling through space himself, while everyone else works to maintain Earth's safety by taking on fringe cases for the government. Nothing different. The season moved to bring closure to the origins of a couple'a mcguffins exclusive to the show's history, and in turn create a contrived science fiction story to fulfill the contractual obligations Marvel had with Clark Gregg by bringing him back as a fear dimension replica of Phil Coulson who wasn't really Phil Coulson...
You just had to be there.
But, despite some vague allusions, the show completely turned a blind eye to 50% of the universe's population being erased. This, essentially, was the last straw for many Marvel fans - Who either weren't fond of the shows to begin with, or became disgruntled over the lack of cross-over of TV show characters in the films (Despite Jarvis from Agent Carter, played by James D'Arcy, appearing in The Avengers: Endgame) - that lead to the sweeping belief that Marvel Television's projects were no longer canon to the films.
Despite the years of Marvel Television proving they could stand on their own, and had merit (Which this season tried to make a point of), the fickle fanbase didn't care and had written them off as having no lasting value to the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe brand, or to genre entertainment.
But 2019 would prove far more detrimental than just the year when Marvel had to shoulder the disappointment of flaky fans.
We're almost to the cancelations, I promise. Some preface...
I mentioned earlier that Marvel was starting to see Hulu as a new viable streaming partner after the fallout with Netflix. Well, much like the company's meteoric initiative on Netflix, they decided to try and move on from the Netflix situation stronger, having learned much from the experience by launching a new initiative that looked like it would once again redefine Marvel Television's role within the larger Marvel brand: Adventure Into Fear.
Starting with the announcement that Marvel Television would be launching the shows Ghost Rider and Helstrom on Hulu, it was revealed that they'd be moving forward on the streaming service with a number of horror and suspense-inspired shows that would lead to another cross-over team-up series in the form of The Spirits of Vengeance. It was even confirmed that actor Gabriel Luna would return to the role of Ghost Rider, from season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and rumors circulated that one of the untitled female-lead shows originally pitched to ABC was actually a series about monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone and that it'd move over to Hulu to be a part of the line. This was honestly very exciting at the time. After Marvel Television proved they were open to new, diverse perspectives within the superhero genre with shows like Luke Cage and Cloak & Dagger, the pitch of a Latino-lead Ghost Rider show set on the Texas-Mexico boarder had a lot of interesting promises.
So, not only was the Marvel Cinematic Universe about to dive into the scarier side of things, they'd still be holding true to what they were always best at: Telling stories about [almost] everyday people protecting us from the threats right in front of us.
Especially when the synopsis for Helstrom revealed Marvel would be putting a more grounded twist on the larger-than-life demonic hero that debuted in comics as "The Son of Satan" by painting his and his sister Ana's father as a "serial killer" and alluding to the show dealing with childhood trauma and victims of child abuse. Marvel was about to cover new ground that most superhero content in the mainstream didn't seem comfortable exploring, still.
This almost looked like a new, prevailing chapter for the company...
...until the final two dominos fell.
Everything seemed to be looking up for Marvel at Hulu, with the latter's executives even publicly entertaining the idea of reviving their Netflix shows once the full rights returned to Marvel. But, then, suddenly...
Ghost Rider got cancelled before filming was able to begin.
Hulu and Marvel claimed "creative differences" over the show's development to many fans' ire. But, they promised Helstrom would still be moving forward despite far less updates on that show coming out at the time. All things considered, it didn't immediately seem like the end of the world for Marvel Television. But, then, a major shift came about at Marvel as Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was promoted to Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment, being the creative lead over everything from the movies to the comics, to even the TV shows. It wouldn't be long, then, before it'd be announced that Marvel Television would be closing its doors and absorbed into Marvel Studios. Then came the cancelations of Cloak & Dagger and The Runaways as Marvel Studios moved to start over with a clean slate of television programming. It became unclear if Marvel would ever revive the old shows. As of now, there have been no definitive answers from Feige, or anyone at either Marvel or Disney as the company continues to move forward with new shows starring both established and brand new characters, from Falcon to Moon Knight, from Ms. Marvel to Hawkeye. So, we continue to wait and see.
I'm getting ahead of myself, though. So, once it was publicly announced that Marvel Television would be closing, some things came out about the company's Vice President Jeph Loeb.
Actor Peter Shinkoda, who portrayed the villain Nobu in the first and second seasons of Daredevil, revealed his character was set to have a deeper backstory that Loeb allegedly cut because, "Nobody cares about Chinese people or Asian people". This particular claim would crop back up when insiders at Marvel Television started leaking information to the press that would paint a negative picture about Loeb's leadership that lead to Disney's decision to close Marvel Television, revealing that the producer would be the reason for many of their pitched shows - Namely The New Warriors and Ghost Rider - not being picked up due to his problematic attitude and handling of the projects behind-the-scenes when attempting to work with networks and streaming services, and apparently being unreasonably demanding and generally hard to work with. Discussions were being had to replace Loeb, but after the massive global success of The Avengers: Endgame, Disney moved to give Kevin Feige more power, putting him in equal footing with Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter, and ensuring that every level of the Marvel brand would have better, competent leadership.
When all was said and done, all that was left of Marvel Television in 2020 were two shows: The final season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the premiere season of Helstrom, both of which were in production before the closure, thus were moved to Marvel Studios for completion. Helstrom, in particular, was a bit of a surprise as casting and production happened rapidly without any fanfare, which could've been done by the crew to ensure that no one's hard work on the series was in vein. Loeb was allowed to stay on both shows as executive producer, though, wherein he'd be relieved of his position once post-production on both shows were completed.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would premiere in the summer of 2020; All that were left watching were the show's core fanbase, and we were treated to a fantastic thirteen episode love letter to the show as the cast traveled through time, experiencing the secret history of S.H.I.E.L.D., all the while seeing their stories come to the most satisfying and sweetest conclusions that any series would be lucky to accomplish in their finale. It's somewhat poetic that the show Marvel Television launched with would be the only show to get a planned ending at the end of the company's tenure. Unfortunately, this would not be reflective of the way they'd go out.
Ending the Marvel Television era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was Helstrom.
It came. It went. And Marvel Television went out with a whisper. The show followed Daimon and Ana Helstrom as they overcome their childhood traumas by facing their fears head-on as they believe the evil demonic spirit of their father threatens to return to torment them and destroy the people closest to them. The show was nothing to write home about, unfortunately, as it's clear the creative freedom of the show was stinted without a certain future to potentially pay off any interesting arcs in future seasons. Because of this, it's a mess of ideas that does cleverly utilize the comics canon in a more grounded narrative, but simultaneously manages to undo the perception that Marvel Television had learned anything from their seven years producing content by being a show riddled with some of the worst aspects of Marvel's prior hiccups. It's clear that the show was phoned-in, and it's a sad ending to what was still a promising company who were finally starting to perfect the best ways to connect with their audiences.
Marvel Television may not have been entirely attractive to every fan, but it's hard to argue that the shows didn't have an impact. As we move forward, it'll be exciting to explore our favorite supporting characters from the films in more in-depth, personal ways than before, and meeting new ones who'll help redefine the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as seeing how the shows, themselves, will affect the larger narrative that Marvel Television's weren't capable of doing. But, it's hard to say that their shows didn't have an impact and/or won't be missed. Ultimately, what made Marvel Television's shows appealing wasn't that they aired during the height of superhero popularity in mainstream media, or their connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It wasn't flashy costumes, high world-ending stakes, or big CGI set pieces. These more modest additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe touched and spoke to their audiences in ways they could directly relate to, telling stories that touched us in interesting ways, forcing us to keep coming back every week, or to sit through hours binging whole seasons on our favorite streaming services, all in an effort to explore ourselves through great, compelling characters that reflected us and our struggles.
Whether it's watching Daredevil suffer from his decisions; Quake discovering herself; Cloak and Dagger overcoming their loneliness together; Peggy Carter championing the limitations set upon her by society; Jessica Jones facing her fears; The Runaways coming face-to-face with the legacies they represent; Luke Cage struggling between his own needs and the needs of his community; Or even Maximus vying for justice, there was something for everyone to enjoy and become emersed in that didn't need the strength of the films to prop them up. While that's not to say the new shows won't have the same impacts, especially when WandaVision deals with the topic of mental illness, and The Falcon & The Winter Soldier tackles the modern divide over racial injustices, the characters we connected to before will be missed the further we get from their heyday.
But, hopefully, it won't be long before we see them again...