The first official trailer for Avengers: Infinity War debuted to widespread acclaim, but it may have brought with it proof that the TV side of the MCU isn't going to crossover into the movie realm anytime soon. Despite all the successes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the lack of shared threads between its films and television shows has been viewed by many fans as a major letdown. The various Marvel TV series usually make it clear that they exist within the larger shared universe, even if only in a vague sense, like Netflix's Punisher series or Hulu's Runaways. A handful of movie characters have popped up on the small screen (Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and Lady Sif all made appearances on Agents of SHIELD), and a few TV characters even got their start in the movies (ie Agent Coulson and Agent Carter). But to date, we've seen exactly zero television events make any significant impact on an MCU film, and there hasn't been a single TV creation that has managed to make their way into the movie side of things. This shared universe is a one way street, and it's barely even that.
Watching the Infinity War trailer, MCU diehards may have noticed that the four armed aliens the heroes of Earth are fighting in the massive Wakanda battle sequence were a bit familiar looking. In fact, they look quite a bit like the creatures seen in the preview for season 5 of Agents of SHIELD, who have since been identified as Vrellnexians. In the comics, this hive mind-controlled insectoid race unsuccessfully tried to take over Asgard back in the '70s, though they've barely been seen since. Thanos' similar looking foot soldiers, meanwhile, are actually the Outriders, "genetically engineered parasite assassins" who were first introduced in the comics in 2013.
The two races look similar enough that some fans may have thought they were the same race. Of course, the biggest giveaway that they aren't is the fact that the MCU's Vrellnexians have only one set of arms, while the Outriders have two. But we can't help but wonder if that was always the case.
Did Infinity War force Agents of SHIELD to change the Vrellnexians' design?
Taking a look at the two aliens side by side in the image above, it wouldn't be unfair to say that the Vrellnexians (on the left) and the Outriders (right) have as many differences as they have similarities. The latter seem to be bipedal creatures with a black and yellowish hide, while the Vrellnexians look to be quadrupedal beasts with a black and blue/green hide. It's the similar head and face design that may be throwing fans off, but it's the Vrellnexians' odd upper body design that got us thinking -- and wondering if the Agents of SHIELD SFX team wasn't forced to make a last minute change to accommodate the Outriders of Infinity War.
In the comics, both species have two sets of arms, and it's the Vrellnexians that walk on their hind legs, while the Outriders are the ones often seen moving on all
fours sixes. The Vrellnexians clearly have a Xenomorph vibe going on, which works for their AoS storyline, and the Outrider foot soldiers fighting on their hind legs in the Infinity War trailer isn't a mistake, either. (It would have been much more difficult to film the Avengers fist fighting a hoard of enemies that crawl more than they walk.) The changes make sense in that respect. But if you take a look at the bumps on either side of the Vrellnexian's upper torso, the bulky protrusions located right above their arms, we can't help but think that they may have once had another set of arms there. As is, the Vrellnexian glimpsed above looks like he's about to topple over face first. The balance seems to be way off here.
And if that was the case -- if the AoS team had to switch things up at the eleventh hour in order to accommodate Infinity War -- then it's evidence that suggests that Marvel's movie and TV divisions are even further apart than we thought.
The growing disconnect between Marvel TV and Marvel Movies
As we mentioned in the intro, despite the increasing fan demand for more TV/movie crossover, the chances of it happening are looking bleaker by the day. There are a number of reasons for this, namely the logistics and timing of it all. But instances like the Outrider/Vrellnexian confusion shed light on just how far off a major crossover appears to be. If our speculation is correct, and the latter lost a set of limbs during the later stages of post-production in an effort to differentiate them from the Outriders, then Marvel's movie and television departments probably aren't in contact as much as they should be. And if that's the case, how can they ever pull off an actual crossover?
The MCU is nearly a decade old at this point, so fans will eventually begin to question if the shared universe's TV series and films will ever truly crossover. And we're not just talking about Nick Fury checking in on Agent Coulson and the gang to see how things are going in a two minute cameo. We're talking Wilson Fisk butting heads with Spider-Man on the big screen, or the Defenders joining the fight against Thanos in Avengers 4 (you know, assuming they mind that their home turf is about to be decimated by the Mad Titan). Given just how disconnected the latest TV shows seem to be from the rest of the MCU -- see: Netflix's Punisher series and Runaways over on Hulu -- and the fact that Marvel's two divisions are as far apart as they seem to be, we wouldn't bank on a major crossover happening anytime soon.
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018