When the Marvel Cinematic Universe started with Iron Man, Marvel Studios was not yet planning their move to the small screen to bring fans even more content within the universe. This became the case after the smash success of The Avengers; Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. made its debut on ABC shortly after and is still running four seasons later. As if one TV show existing within the larger universe was not enough, Marvel Television also launched Agent Carter on ABC, a followup to Peggy Carter's life after Captain America: The First Avenger. Other projects such as a S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff Marvel's Most Wanted or a half hour comedy in Damage Control have also been considered, but never gone anywhere.
There has also recently been talk of a New Warriors style show starring Squirrel Girl potentially getting started, and Runaways is now officially heading to Hulu. Meanwhile, Marvel has struck a great relationship with Netflix that has produced three series so far, with three more still to come. Both seasons of Daredevil and the first seasons of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have been incredibly well received, with Jon Bernthal getting his own spin-off in The Punisher as a result. This success has led many to wonder if these characters, plus Iron Fist, will make a jump to the big screen after The Defenders next year, and Kevin Feige appears to be having fun with the possibility.
As part of a longer interview with IGN, Feige was talking about bringing everyone from the MCU together to fight Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and/or Untitled Avengers, and he is not denying that possibility. While this is far from a confirmation that The Defenders will be making some sort of appearance in the film, when asked if "everyone" he referred to fighting Thanos included the street-level heroes, all he would say was, "Spoilers!"
Without knowing the tone in which Feige says this, it is impossible to say for certain what this means, but the most likely scenario is he is having fun with fans' hopes and dreams. Even if that is the case, there's still room for the mega team-up to happen. Something as simple as him not denying the inclusion of them or bringing up the laundry list of reasons as to why it is so difficult to make it happen, he instead plays it off.
There are plenty of previous excuses as to why this couldn't happen -- from scheduling, to actor contracts, or not wanting to pigeon hold the Netflix series from going in a particular direction -- but Feige's small tease is doing none of that. Rumors of this potential crossover have been happening for some time now and all Marvel shows, both Netflix and ABC properties, make references to what is happening in the films in some regards. The end of Phase 3 is the perfect opportunity for Marvel to bring these characters in, even for the briefest of moments, and give credit to not only die hard fans that consume all MCU properties, but also the actors, showrunners, and writers that have made these shows work within the films' stories. Hopefully this does become a reality, so stay tuned for more.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Untitled Avengers – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.