Fans, and critics, of the burgeoning Marvel Cinematic Universe have grown to expect two things: a high-quality of superhero filmmaking and a fully-functional interconnected world for the characters to inhabit. Marvel's formula proved successful with the release of The Avengers, which showed the film community that serialized filmmaking could be both creatively and financially rewarding. After May's release of Captain America: Civil War, in which almost every MCU actor joined Steve Rogers in his journey, the crossover is now considered the norm, not the exception.
However, it's easy to forget that there are entire wings of the MCU that have yet to appear cinematically. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was the first show to spin out of the movies in 2013. Its star, Clark Gregg, was initially the personification of the interconnected nature of the MCU, as he either recruited or kept tabs on the growing Avengers roster through their first team-up film. However, with S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fourth season premiere just a couple of months away, he has yet to reappear in in the larger MCU, since Coulson's death and resurrection.
During a panel at Nerd HQ, Gregg gave his thoughts on what show he would like to appear on next and what is preventing it from happening.
"Because it was one of my favorite comics as a teen, I would have said Daniel Rand, Iron Fist, but suddenly there’s a gigantic invisible force-field barrier called “Corporate Stuff.” Unless, who knows, maybe we will develop a weapon that will break through that, and get me over to Netflix for a minute. I would like that, I would like that. But if that barrier came down, then God knows I’d want to talk to Luke Cage. After seeing that footage… oh, yeah. Absolutely. [Mike] Colter‘s a beast."
The "corporate stuff" that Gregg would like to "break through," probably stems from the last year's reformation of the Marvel empire. Marvel Studios (the film side) was realigned directly under Disney head Bob Iger, along with other autonomous studios, such as Lucasfilm and Pixar. Meanwhile, the TV side of Marvel was put under the guidance of Ike Perlmutter and an already icy situation may have simply frozen over.
With the strong presence of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and the entire library of films, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to be intentionally isolated within the larger MCU. The upcoming film slate is jam-packed, as the overarching storyline barrels towards Avengers: Infinity War, which oddly enough would be an ideal place for the stars of Agents to pop up. Meanwhile Netflix is growing a more mature, gritty side of the MCU, that will culminate in its own team-up series, The Defenders. However, neither side frequently acknowledges the events or characters of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Aside from throwaway Easter eggs like posters of Crusher Creel in Daredevil), despite objection from the show's own stars, such as Chloe Bennet.
While it would be fantastic to see Gregg appear on a Netflix show like Luke Cage or Iron Fist, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s lack of crossover viability may have a lot to do with the show's tone. The aesthetic and tonal design of S.H.I.E.L.D. would seemingly have no place in Luke Cage's Harlem or Jessica Jones' apartment building. However, seeing worlds collide within a single universe is the entire challenge and appeal of interconnectivity. After all, it was Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that once made us all believe that, "It's all connected."
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 premieres September 20th, 2016 in its new timeslot, 10:00pm EST on ABC.