Marvel got its start in primetime thanks to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. back in 2013, and it has hung on for four seasons so far. Several other Marvel shows have since made it to the small screen, and a new project is in the works that could jeopardize the future of S.H.I.E.L.D. The new Inhumans series will tackle some of the same topics that once had solely belonged to S.H.I.E.L.D., and there's been some concern that two Marvel shows can't work on broadcast television. ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey addressed the concerns, saying this:
S.H.I.E.L.D. is in its fourth season and every year, that show has gotten creatively stronger and better. It was the first out of the gate for us and with Marvel, and we all have been learning a lot over the four years of the show. What we're doing with IMAX is very different, and I think it's going to feel and look very different from what they're doing on Netflix. Hopefully there's a world for me where those two shows exist side-by-side on our air and are two different pieces of music that exist together in the same landscape.
The Inhumans will be a huge departure from how Marvel has handled its shows in the past, which has been either with a standard premiere on network television or via Netflix. The new series will debut its first two episodes in IMAX theaters, and will give curious viewers the chance to get a sneak peek of The Inhumans in a way that feels more like a Marvel movie than the beginnings of a Marvel show. Considering that IMAX is paying for the first two hours and supplying the specialized cameras for filming them, it's no wonder that Channing Dungey is hopeful that The Inhumans is a success in addition to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Of course, Channing Dungey's comments in her chat with THR at the TCA press tour indicate that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may need to move away from its own Inhuman plot in the not-too-distant future, which could have a major impact on any future seasons. One of the leading ladies of S.H.I.E.L.D. is an Inhuman, and one of the biggest storylines has followed the conflict between Inhumans and a group determined to hunt them down. If Dungey truly wants Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Inhumans to feel distinctly different, S.H.I.E.L.D. may need to give up its Inhuman focus.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does hold a special place in the Marvel franchise as the project that kicked off the TV branch of the Marvel universe, and I'm inclined to agree with Channing Dungey that the show has gotten better from season to season. The problem is that the ratings have consistently dropped through the years, and Season 4 is by far the lowest-rated so far. If Marvel and ABC come to the conclusion that both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Inhumans can't have a place in primetime, S.H.I.E.L.D. may be the one to get the axe. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s ratings for Season 4 haven't been much higher than those for Agent Carter Season 2, and those numbers were low enough for ABC to cancel the series. Hopefully ratings pick up for S.H.I.E.L.D. and prove to ABC and Marvel that both shows can exist on television at the same time.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest news on a potential Season 5 for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and be sure to check out our midseason TV premiere schedule.