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To this point, the relationship between Marvel Studios films and television series has largely been a one way street: characters and storylines from the movies have affected shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, though we have not yet seen those same shows influencing the stories on the big screen. But while this is the current status quo, we may soon see a shift, as we have learned that audiences may soon start seeing the brand new Netflix titles – including the recently released Daredevil - start to have an impact on feature titles coming out in the next few years.
This interesting development comes to us straight from Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who I had the opportunity to sit down with this past weekend at a press event for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron. Because Daredevil had been released the day before, I asked about the aforementioned one way street, and he explained why and how the Netflix shows (a grouping that also includes the upcoming a.k.a. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the miniseries The Defenders) could provide the opportunity to see the growing small screen world affect the big screen world. Or as he put it,
I think the Netflix shows may change that. I think there hasn’t been the opportunity right now. These movies, all of them, every movie you’ve seen so far, were well underway before the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. even started. So it is looking forward on how to do that.
Going further, Kevin Feige also made it a point to say that Marvel on the whole doesn’t always work to try and create hardcore links between everything, and that when we do see the many franchises interact it’s because the idea comes up organically instead of being forced. Or as he put it,
The truth is, we never sit down and go, ‘How can we link this movie to this movie or this show to this movie?’ We sit down and go, ‘What the hell is Iron Man going to do today? How are we going to explore these characters?’ And if and when there’s a time when we say, this has happened, you know, during Thor: The Dark World, let’s have Loki screw around with Thor a little bit. He’s a shape-shifter, what if he turns into Captain America. ‘Chris, will you come in?’ That’s how a lot of this stuff happens, and the more toys there are just outside the sandbox, the more we can go, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool...’
So what is it about the Netflix shows that make them fitting to influence the big screen world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? There are two elements that immediately come to mind. To start, there’s the fact that series are coming out in binge format both before and right at the start of what’s been dubbed Marvel’s Phase Three (a.k.a. all of the Marvel Studios projects released after Ant-Man, and up to and including 2019’s Inhumans). This presumably means that the folks behind the movies will have awareness of the Netflix characters’ place in the universe, and could find ways to take advantage of that in the movies.
More related to the second half of Kevin Feige’s comments, there’s also the fact that the Netflix shows are set in New York City – a central hub in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that is not only the home of the Avengers Tower, but also big screen heroes like Spider-Man. Knowing this, characters like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist start to look like the proverbial toys just outside the sandbox that are referred to.
Because of the way the studio operates, it’s unlikely that this news will make Marvel movies harder to follow if you don’t watch Marvel shows, but it does seem that we will start seeing more overlap and influence between the two over the next few years. It will definitely be an interesting development to watch, as the comic book company continues to break new ground.