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Disney (Correctly) Wouldn’t Let ABC Cancel Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

By Blair Marnell

Disney (Correctly) Wouldn’t Let ABC Cancel Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Back in 2013, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was heralded as an unprecedented crossover between film and television. It was set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Marvel teased the possibilities of its film stars making occasional guest appearances. That was more true in the early days of the show, when Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and Lady Sif dropped by. But those MCU cameos have dried up, and the series has struggled to regain the ratings it once had. So much so that the show’s survival was almost in question. 

According to Variety, ABC actually wanted to cancel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. following the fourth season’s conclusion last spring. However, Marvel and ABC’s parent company, Disney, stepped in and forced ABC to renew the series for a fifth season. Corporate synergy, everyone! It’s what’s for dinner. 

But in this case, a little corporate synergy can be a good thing. Having seen every single episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we'll admit that not every installment made for great TV. Some of the episodes are even terrible, especially in the first half of season 1. However, the show has slowly carved out a place for itself in the MCU, and even some of the series’ supporting characters have been incorporated into the comics. 

The events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier forced the series to abandon its initial status quo. That’s frequently cited as the point where Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. became good, or at least better. However, that's not necessarily true. There were definitely some strong episodes in the back half of season 1, but the real turnaround came in the second season. That’s when the show was allowed to explore the Inhumans mythology years before the feature film that was supposed to come out. Of course, the Inhumans TV series is now a thing, but we'll talk about that some other time. 

Getting back to the point, introducing the Inhumans opened up the MCU to more superpowered characters, and it allowed Chloe Bennet’s hacker Skye to be reborn as Daisy "Quake" Johnson, one of the preexisting heroines in the Marvel Universe. Adding Adrianne Palicki’s Mockingbird to the mix also helped a great deal, and the show hasn’t fully recovered from Palicki’s abrupt departure. Let’s just say that her Marvel spinoff series with Nick Blood didn’t get past the pilot episode at ABC.

During the most recent season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. reinvented itself yet again by introducing supernatural elements like Ghost Rider, and splitting the season up into three distinct arcs. The first storyline set up Ghost Rider, the Darkhold, and other subplots, while the second storyline finally introduced S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Life Model Decoys in a major way. The third arc also struck gold by featuring most of the main cast trapped in an artificial world where Hydra had control of everything.

We’re not sure what’s in store for the upcoming fifth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but the season 4 finale and the recently released poster have suggested that it will take place in space. That’s a pretty huge departure for the show, but it’s an area that may soon be explored on the big screen in Avengers: Infinity War. Either way, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is getting another chance to explore the Marvel Universe. And we’re grateful this series is still around. It may not as polished as most of Marvel’s Netflix shows, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can still be a key part of the MCU. It’s earned its place at the table.

Images: ABC/Marvel TV