While most recent coverage of the relationship between the film and television sides of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has stressed the sense of a growing divide between the two camps, largely centered on the famously combative relationship between MCU godfather Kevin Feige (who now controls Marvel Studios as an independent entity within Disney) and Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter (who still holds sway over the TV and Netflix productions), continuity between the two realms is still official policy. Whether or not a Marvel film acknowledges any of the TV offerings (or vice-versa), it’s largely expected that they will reflect and – when appropriate – acknowledge each other.
Case in point: While Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has spent much of it’s third season embroiled in it’s own Inhumans-centered storyline, the next episodes are still set during the same relative timeframe as Captain America: Civil War – and now a new teaser for the 4/10 episode “Emancipation” reveals which side Director Coulson has aligned with.
In the scene, Coulson is seen taking a meeting with General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) in what appears to be a restaurant/bar on the subject of Coulson’s reconstructed version of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which, per the series, remains a secretive operation that doesn’t officially “exist”) helping to register the identities of its Inhuman members with the government in accordance with the Sokovia Accords regulations that drive the plot of the third Captain America sequel. When Talbot insists that Coulson comply and use this as an opportunity to bring S.H.I.E.L.D. out of the shadows, he points out that even the Avengers have signed on for the plan – to which Coulson replies, “Not all of them.”
That Coulson would side with Captain America in the superhero Civil War is largely unsurprising, given that his character has been defined by an old-school idealism and an idol-worship of the patriotic WWII-era hero in particular. The scene (which ends abruptly with the reveal of Coulson’s booth doubling as an elevator to S.H.I.E.L.D’s underground HQ) nonetheless raises questions as to what the impact of Civil War’s storyline will be on the already complicated place that S.H.I.E.L.D. finds itself in for the remainder of Season 3. While the situation hasn’t been specifically touched on in the films, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s characters are currently managing a worldwide outbreak of individuals discovering that they are “Inhumans” (read: possessing latent super-powers related to a lineage of alien genetic engineering in prehistoric humanity) and the world-domination schemes of an ancient Inhuman “god” called Hive.
While Agents’ first season found itself tied very directly to events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, season 2’s similarly-hyped “crossover” with Avengers: Age of Ultron amounted to only a few scenes of screentime in two episodes. However, whereas Winter Soldier’s storyline had implications that the series was more or less bound to incorporate into its plot, season 2’s focus on rival S.H.I.E.L.D. factions and the discovery of the Inhumans had little to do with Age of Ultron’s events. But season 3’s storyline about the response to an explosion in the number of “enhanced” people in the world would seem tailor-made for give-and-take with Civil War’s registration themes, which makes the (mutual) lack of prior acknowledgement curious, to say the least – though perhaps not entirely surprising given that the Inhumans movie that the series had been presumed to be laying the groundwork for was recently removed (though not officially canceled) from Marvel’s schedule.
Whatever comes of these latest developments, it will presumably have to come to a head fairly quickly: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. only has 2 episodes remaining in Season 3 after “Emancipation.” And while the series was recently renewed for Season 4 and has ended on teasers for future storylines in both seasons prior, not wrapping up a main central storyline like the conflict with Hive (and the fate of series mainstay Daisy Johnson, currently being mind-controlled by the Inhuman villain) by the season’s conclusion would be a first for the series.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues with ‘Emancipation’ Tuesday May 11th at 9pm on ABC.