On April 27th, we will see destruction, warfare and a bombardment of quips smash onto the silver screen like nothing we have seen before. I am not talking about Duck Duck Goose; that comes out a week earlier. No, I am talking about Avengers: Infinity War! It is finally on the horizon, thanks to Robert Downey Jr., and for many fans, all those hours of smashing your action figures together will at last become a reality. Most importantly, Infinity War will unite the MCU’s mightiest heroes- except of course, television’s mightiest heroes… or public defenders. While Agent Coulson made the leap from film to television back at the end of Phase 1, most of the film and television heroes have stayed on their own turf. If you ask me, it is a wise decision to keep Marvel’s television heroes in the mean streets of New York and on the run from mom and dad rather than to have them join the Avengers on the global scale.
Many of the MCU’s television shows have so far successfully operated in their distinctive worlds. “Distinctive worlds” mostly meaning the Netflix shows, of course. The ABC network line-up of Marvel television shows live to service the larger cinematic universe, ever since Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. awoke the idea of interconnecting the movies and shows. However, fans are not lining up in droves to see any of the agents show up in films.
One of the many reasons most of the Netflix shows have thrived is because they are given the space to be something else besides a superhero show. For example, Daredevil is a episodic crime drama, while Jessica Jones is a detective noir. On the flip side, ABC’s Inhumans is an abomination that doesn’t know what it is. MCU films are enjoyable, but having a unique tone and voice is not their top priority (that would be making boatloads of cash.) One could argue that there is one outlier, Marvel’s most recent outing, Black Panther, thanks to the infusion of African aesthetic and culture with traditional Marvel story-telling. If Marvel decides to take the Netflix players out of their element, they run the risk of losing the core of those characters.
In addition, twenty-seven doesn’t even cover how many characters will be appearing in Infinity War. And no, Hawkeye and his “special” mission didn’t make the head count. The Russo Brothers must be feeling a little overwhelmed. Hell, Joss Whedon was feeling the heat with not even half that number of characters in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It doesn’t make sense to add new blood into the mix this late into the MCU’s current story-arc, especially when many of the television heroes are still actively being fleshed out.
The Defenders is a shining example of why these characters are not ready to be flung into the Marvel films. Taking three well-defined characters (plus Danny Rand) and sticking them into a show with a plot and conflict resembling any generic MCU movie was not a K.O. power punch. It’s not as if Netflix is the only network afflicted by this genericness; Marvel’s Runaways took an entire season to experience running away. Most of these shows, with the exception of Agents, Daredevil and Jessica Jones, are still in their infancies (and Season 2 of Daredevil and Jessica Jones both needed some work.) What makes most of these shows stand-out are their titular characters and the heavy emphasis of developing them as people first and super-powered individuals second. You simply can’t afford that development anywhere near the same amount of care in an overstuffed movie.
Marvel is building its television empire, the key word here being “building”. Ultimately, there will likely be a time when the key television characters will bounce between the films and their shows. After all, they are in the same universe. However, for the next while at least, the television heroes should continue to grow and kick ass in their own ponds.