Given Lady Sif’s reappearance this week on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I thought this would be a good time to explore some of the other tie-ins between Marvel’s small-screen offerings and the movies.
When Marvel announced that it was expanding the MCU onto TV with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I was ecstatic since I’d loved The Avengers and gone back to watch/re-watch all the Phase 1 movies to get ready for it, along with the Marvel One-Shots. With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I wasn’t exactly expecting us to get 1/3 to 1/2 of a Marvel movie every week, but more of a look at how the ordinary people dealt with living in a post-Loki world, with the promise of tie-ins and cameos from all over the Marvel Cinematic Universe (along with the comics). And for the most part—freshman jitters aside—Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. delivered on those promises, particularly the ability to tie-in to Thor: The Dark World and The Avengers. The “official” tie-in episode with Thor: The Dark World, “The Well” (1x08) isn’t exactly one to write home about—specifically the part that actually ties in to the movie, when the team is literally picking up the pieces after Thor’s battle with Malekith—but at least the main body of the episode gave us another taste of Asgard. In fact, I would like to see Professor Berserker and his staff reappear on the show some time in the future, perhaps as part of their tie-in to the events of Thor: Ragnarok in November 2017 (assuming that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. receives third and fourth seasons, which look to be good bets if they continue with the Inhumans story line and lay the groundwork for some of the major movie events like Civil War and Infinity War). As long as it’s a good story, that is. Please, no more Ward, Fitz, and Simmons as glorified trash collectors.
Thor: The Dark World and “The Well” aside, Marvel has actually made significant use of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to tie in with the movies; we just didn’t realize it or recognize it at the time. Some of the tie-ins, such as the “Pilot,” are really obvious; others are not nearly as obvious. I’m going to try to mention all of the tie-ins, though I’ll spend most of my time talking about the less-obvious ones. If I miss any, feel free to let me know in the comment section.
“Pilot” (1x01) – The most obvious movie tie-ins of them all: Phil Coulson (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, The Avengers) and Maria Hill (The Avengers) both appear. They make explicit references to virtually all of the Avengers in conversation. Project Centipede uses bits and pieces of every substance known to give super powers, including the Extremis serum (Iron Man 3). However, we do not learn until the end of the season that Project Centipede is actually a semi-independent Hydra R&D Department which seems to still be sort-of under S.H.I.E.L.D.’s protection (Captain America: The Winter Soldier). This may be one of the biggest unrecognized movie tie-ins of the bunch: The Hydra infiltration actually started coming to the surface on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a full seven months before it factored into the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Whoa…
“0-8-4” (1x02) – The most obvious tie-in (though it doesn’t look to have much effect on the Captain America movies) here is the forgotten piece of Hydra tech which made its way to Peru with escaping Hydra scientists after the end of World War II (Captain America: The First Avenger). This also connects the MCU with actual events, since many ex-Nazis fled to South America following Germany’s surrender.
“Eye Spy” (1x04) and “Girl in the Flower Dress” (1x05) – Both of these episodes continue the Hydra infiltration storyline from the “Pilot.” I won’t make too many more comments on that particular tie-in unless it is specifically noteworthy. Oh yeah, and “Eye Spy” is where the alien writing from Season Two first appears. You know, that writing that led them to the Inhuman temple? That’s what they saw on that blackboard. Huh.
“FZZT” (1x06) – This episode ties in with the aftermath of The Avengers, with the team responding to the fallout from a group of firefighters keeping a Chitauri helmet as a souvenir. Not the most exciting movie tie-in out there, but I still think it’s a better use of “picking up the pieces” than “The Well” since “the pieces” actually tie in to the episode’s plot. Funny how that works.
“The Hub” (1x07) – This is Sitwell’s (Thor, The Consultant One-Shot, The Avengers, Item 47 One-Shot, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) first appearance on the show. It didn’t exactly tie in with any of his other appearances, so it’s more of a cameo than anything else.
“The Well” (1x08) – The aforementioned tie-in with Thor: The Dark World
“Repairs” (1x09) – This is where things get interesting. You know that movie coming out in 2016? Not the one with Batman v. Superman—I mean Captain America vs. Iron Man. The one introducing a significant Avenger and exploring a heretofore unexplored corner of the Marvel Universe. No, I don’t mean Spider-Man. The other MCU movie that year: Doctor Strange. That one. Doctor Strange deals with a lot of alternate dimensions. But we’ve already seen alternate dimensions in the MCU: that technician guy who got stuck halfway between Earth and “Hell” in this episode may have actually been stuck between our dimension and another one. So in the Doctor Strange movie we could see that dude (Tobias) hanging out with Mephisto. Or not. Either way, you saw alternate dimensions here first.
“The Magical Place” (1x11) – More of the future-tie-in with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, specifically laying the seeds for some of Coulson’s eventual conflict with Agent Garrett. We (finally) find out just what happened to Coulson after The Avengers.
“Seeds” (1x12) – Looking back at it, we can see how this episode is laying the “seeds” [*ducks*] for Gill’s part in Hydra’s takeover of S.H.I.E.L.D. following the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (that movie is showing up a lot on this list for some reason…).
“T.R.A.C.K.S.” (1x13) and “T.A.H.I.T.I.” (1x14) – We finally meet the primary antagonist for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. corner of the Hydra takeover of S.H.I.E.L.D. from Captain America: The Winter Solder (again with that movie…)
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“Yes Men” (1x015) – I think I may speak for all of us when I say that this is what we were looking for in terms of a crossover with Thor: The Dark World (even if you’re not a fan of the execution, then you’ve got to at least like the concept). Here we have a bona fide Asgardian character from the comic books in Lorelei making her first live-action appearance alongside a supporting character from the Thor movies in Sif. Lorelei escaped during the events of Thor: The Dark World and came to Midgard/Earth. And that’s where the tie-in with Thor: The Dark World ends. Because this episode is not tying in with that Thor movie; its primary tie-in is setting up one of the potential villains for Thor: Ragnarok (“Say whaaa?”). Hear me out: At the end of the episode Sif tells Lorelei that she is under direct orders to bring Lorelei back to Asgard alive and unharmed. But who gave her those orders? Odin, who as we all know (from Thor: The Dark World) is actually Loki pretending to be Odin. So Loki wants Lorelei on his side. I’d say the odds are pretty good that we’ll see her again in 2½ years, perhaps even sitting on a throne right next to Loki.
“End of the Beginning” (1x16) – Where to begin with this one… For one thing, this is the last time we see Sitwell before he flies off to that ship that got hijacked at the beginning of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. For another thing, the Hydra infiltration is almost exposed when Coulson and Skye realize near the end of the episode that the “Clairvoyant” is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (who actually turns out to be a Hydra agent within S.H.I.E.L.D.). At the end of this episode is when Hydra sends out the message seen at the beginning of the next episode activating its sleeper cells (which means the events of these two episodes occur roughly concurrently with the main action in Captain America: The Winter Soldier since the message would have had to go out around the time that Captain America and company attacked the Triskelion, or at the earliest the night before; otherwise S.H.I.E.L.D. could have decoded it and been on guard against them).
“Turn, Turn, Turn” (1x17) – Okay, this is almost the last reference to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This is the episode that aired right after the Cap 2 premiere, and we see in here the aftereffects of Hydra’s coming-out party on a couple of S.H.I.E.L.D. bases, a theme which comes back in the following episode, “Providence.” These two episodes also reference Fury’s apparent death in Cap 2.
“The Only Light in the Darkness” (1x19) – This episode fills in the back story of the “cellist” that Coulson mentioned in The Avengers. Meeting Audrey really helped to humanize Coulson, more than those two throwaway lines from The Avengers did.
“Nothing Personal” (1x20) – Maria Hill (The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers: Age of Ultron) guest stars again. We see that following Cap 2 she is now working for Tony Stark and still at least keeping tabs on the remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D., setting up her role in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
“Beginning of the End” (1x22) – Nick Fury (a bunch of movies I don’t think I need to name) guest stars again and appoints Coulson as his successor as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. following the organization’s dissolution in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So if/when S.H.I.E.L.D. turns up again in the movies, they’ll have this episode to thank for the fact that there is a S.H.I.E.L.D. It also lays down some more of the plot threads that would culminate in the Inhumans tie-in from season two.
“Shadows” (2x01) – Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos raid a Hydra base shortly after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger and around the events of the Agent Carter TV series. It also introduces the Obelisk (The Inhumans).
“Making Friends and Influencing People” (2x03) – This furthers the Hydra thread from Captain America: The Winter Soldier as we see how Hydra is operating after coming out into the open. We also learn about Donnie Gill’s role in Hydra’s takeover of the Sandbox (a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility). Finally, Whitehall uses brainwashing technology which may have been developed from that used as part of Bucky’s transformation into the Winter Soldier.
“Face My Enemy” (2x04) – Bakshi and Agent 33 use the same face- and voice-altering technology as Romanoff used in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In other words, even if it was something of a deus ex machina in Cap 2, they worked it in as standard S.H.I.E.L.D. technology stolen by Hydra through the show.
“A Hen in the Wolf House” (2x05) – This episode introduces Bobbi Morse, a.k.a. Mockingbird, who may or may not show up in future movies (specifically Captain America: Civil War and/or The Avengers: Infinity War(s)).
“The Writing on the Wall” (2x07) – Coulson and crew discover that the carving is actually blueprints to a hidden city of The Inhumans.
“The Things We Bury” (2x08) – Reinhardt/Whitehall is an original Hydra officer (Captain America: The First Avenger) who was released from S.H.I.E.L.D. prison by Alexander Pierce (Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Oh yeah, and then there’s the tiny matter of him vivisecting a member of The Inhumans (I really can’t resist!).
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“…Ye Who Enter Here” (2x09), “What They Become” (2x10), “Aftershocks” (2x11) – Can you say “setting up The Inhumans”? “What They Become” shows Terrigenesis happening, which means they may never feel the need to show it again—they certainly have no need to tell a long, drawn-out origin story for an Inhuman ever again since they can just say, “You remember that thing that happened in the underground city in Puerto Rico on AoS? Yeah, that happened to this dude, too.” That’s going to save them a lot of screen time in The Inhumans. We also see S.H.I.E.L.D. deal a crippling blow to Hydra in these episodes with the deaths of 5 of the Heads of Hydra, along with the capture of one of their potential replacements. This may be why Hydra doesn’t look like as big of a threat in the most recent trailer for The Avengers: Age of Ultron; von Strucker hasn’t really appeared in any of the advertising for it, though he was namedropped in “Aftershocks” as the “man behind the curtain.” Oh, one last thing from these episodes: Skye/Daisy/“Quake” joins the Avengers a couple of times in the comics, so we might see her involved in the movies somewhere down the line (Captain America: Civil War, The Avengers: Infinity War(s), and The Inhumans are all possibilities).
“Who You Really Are” (2x12) – Sif’s gonna show up. Again. Probably with some information on The Inhumans. Maybe with someone else who will prove important to Thor: Ragnarok.
Just in case you think I forgot Agent Carter, there were also at least a couple tie-ins there, too. All of the episodes contain at least a couple tie-ins with/Easter eggs for Captain America: The First Avenger, so I won’t mention them.
“Now is Not the End” (1x01) – Peggy and Jarvis visit Anton Vanko (Iron Man 2) for help. And Jarvis is the inspiration for Tony Stark’s JARVIS program (do I really need to put in references?)
“The Blitzkrieg Button” (1x04) – Okay, one Captain America: The First Avenger tie-in: Cap’s blood drawn during the first movie. The real tie-in here, however, is Dottie, who is revealed in this episode as the “proto-Black Widow.”
“The Iron Ceiling” (1x05) – This episode fleshes out the history of the Red Room (or whatever training program was used to create the Black Widows in the MCU), which looks to be a key part of The Avengers: Age of Ultron in filling in some of Romanoff’s back story.
“Valediction” (1x08) – Dr. “Ivchenko” (real name Johann Fennhoff, a.k.a. Doctor Faustus) displayed his mind control techniques (also in the previous 2 episodes) to great effect. The final shot of the season is of him with his new cellmate, Arnim Zola (Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), who is curious about mind control—perhaps leading to their collaboration in developing the techniques used on the Winter Soldier as well as for Hydra’s “recruitment” process seen in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Looking backward, they’ve referenced every single movie/series so far except Guardians of the Galaxy, but each season has focused on planting seeds for one of the upcoming movies: Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the first season, and The Inhumans in the second. We may see more for The Avengers: Age of Ultron in the second half of this season, but at this point in the season that’s really taking a backseat to The Inhumans. So going forward, my best guess is that each season will have a major tie-in arc with one of the upcoming movies, interspersed with material which ties in with the other movies.
We can see a lot of universe building and tie-ins all through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I think the ones that intrigue me the most looking to the future are Lorelei, the alternate dimensions, and all of The Inhumans stuff.
What about you? What tie-ins did I miss? What are your favorite tie-ins?