Thursday, March 3, 2016

Marvel's Civil War: The Small-Screen Tie-In Possibilities

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My last article was supposed to cover all the tie-in potential in MCU Phase 3, but it started getting long, so I decided to split it up—the simple one-and-done article I started almost a month ago has grown like crazy!  Last week’s article dealt with only the Phase 3 movies and how they might tie in with Civil War.  This article will cover all of the upcoming TV shows as well as the Netflix series.

Captain America: Civil War will see the Avengers landing on opposite sides in a deeply-personal conflict which will also create a major ideological divide between Captain America—who has always stood for freedom—and Iron Man—who is (presumably) having a major crisis of conscience after creating an artificial intelligence monster that nearly caused the human race to go extinct.  The ideological side of the conflict will almost certainly—and I would argue needs to—have far-reaching implications all through Phase 3.  The conflict cannot be settled in a single movie; the aftermath will need to be felt in the future movies in which these characters appear.

However, even as the Avengers are being pulled apart by the personal side of the conflict, the rest of the world (particularly the world’s superheroes) will feel at least some of the ramifications of the conflict, as well.  In the comic book Civil War—a primarily-American conflict—the rest of the world was nevertheless drawn in on one side or the other; how much more will the rest of the world be drawn in when the “Registration Act”-equivalent (the Sokovia Accords) is enacted by the United Nations, a global legislative body?  This is not something that can be seen in-depth in a 2-hour movie, or even in multiple single-character movies.  To fully understand the scope of the conflict will require a lot more than that.  And that means tie-ins from the small-screen, as well.

Articles in this Series:
“Why the Civil War Needs to be BIG
“Marvel’s Civil War Interconnectivity:  A Case Study from the Hydra Uprising
“Marvel’s Civil War: The Movie Tie-In Possibilities"

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

There are still 12 episodes left in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3, and at least 3 of them will air after the premiere of Captain America: Civil War.  Over the last 2½ years we’ve seen this series tie in with 4 movies directly, from a minor tie-in or passing reference (Thor: The Dark World and Ant-Man) to a massive, game-changing crossover (Captain America: The Winter Soldier).  My guess is that while the Civil War tie-in will not shake things up to the same degree as The Winter Soldier—and not much could—it will still be huge and game-changing.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the benefit of running on a weekly basis, meaning that it has the opportunity to show both the build-up to Civil War and the immediate aftermath of Civil War, each within 7 days of the movie’s premiere.  Though there is already a lot happening on AoS right now with their conflict against Malick and “SquidWard” (love that name), I think it would be entirely possible for those plots to tie in with Civil War or get pushed into the background temporarily by the greater global implications of the Sokovia Accords.  In fact, what we have seen so far about the first two episodes after it comes back next week implies that AoS could start laying groundwork for the Accords very quickly.

The first and most obvious tie-in with Civil War comes in the form of the new Inhumans:  how will the Sokovia Accords affect people who stumble into super powers and just want to get back to their regular lives?  Will they be forced to register with the government and be deployed to stop bank robbers?  Will they have to go into hiding to escape from “superhuman bounty hunters”?  Will the world’s governments straight-up imprison them as the A.T.C.U. had been doing (but hopefully without those lovely Hydra undertones)?  Any of these things could be brought up on AoS, along with the response of the Inhuman “leaders” (meaning Daisy and Lincoln right now) to these developments.

Any AoS justification will definitely involve these two!
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Another possibility is for AoS to provide additional justification for the Sokovia Accords—or justification for them to be applied universally to all superhumans.  One potential justification has already been addressed in season 3:  the “alien crisis.”  Could another justification come in the form of a massively-devastating battle between the Secret Warriors and Hydra/SquidWard, perhaps one which occurs only a few short weeks before the movie opens in theaters?

Following the Civil War, of course, AoS can explore what the Sokovia Accords mean for heroes throughout the world—and for their own team of Secret Warriors—in the final 3 episodes of the season.  In the comics, no super teams were left unaffected by the Civil War:  some broke up, some divided, some went into hiding, and some registered.  The Secret Warriors might have a level of protection as an “official” team operating under the authority of S.H.I.E.L.D.—but S.H.I.E.L.D. itself is still underground at the moment (something which President Ellis could change in the next couple weeks).  While the Secret Warriors may not be divided over the question of whether or not to register with the Accords, they could be divided—or disagree with Coulson—over the fate of the Inhumans under the Accords.

Season 4 could then build off of the consequences of Civil War in the same way that season 2 built off of The Winter Soldier.  S.H.I.E.L.D.’s role in the conflict could be on either side, enforcing the Accords or resisting them.  S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Secret Warriors may also play the same role in the MCU as the Secret Warriors did in the comics:  intentionally avoiding the conflict in order to focus on a greater threat and perhaps unite all the heroes against that threat.

This is just me.  I hope they release more on it soon!
Marvel’s Most Wanted

We now know a little more about the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. non-spinoff, as they just released a synopsis last week.  We also know one new cast member—in addition to Bobbi and Hunter, Dominic Fortune will also be appearing in the series.  Based on this information, we can make some educated guesses—but that’s all they are:  guesses.

According to the synopsis, Bobbi and Hunter will themselves be the “most wanted”—though why they are forced to go on the run is unclear so far beyond a cryptic reference to a conspiracy.  Could this conspiracy be related to the Sokovia Accords?  Perhaps they refuse to abide by the Accords and are themselves being hunted down as criminals.

Unfortunately, with how little we really know about this show, it’s difficult to figure out exactly how it could connect to the events of Civil War beyond the possibility of the referenced “conspiracy” being related to the events of Civil War.

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Damage Control

As with Marvel’s Most Wanted, we know very little about Damage Control, though we do know that it will focus on the people who have to clean up after super-powered battles.  As such, it seems like a virtual certainty that some of their episodes would deal with both the tragedies that led to the Accords and the battles that occurred in and after Captain America: Civil War.  This would give the characters an opportunity to reflect on what happened and their views on the conflict—though that would be too heavy-handed for my taste.

Another option is to use the character of Hercules (whom I’ve said before that I want in this series).  In the comics, Hercules receives a work-release to pay off the damage caused by one of his fights by working for Damage Control.  That same plot would be an interesting direction to take this series.  Here is a scenario:

Hercules comes to Earth to fight Ares (or Hades or another Olympian villain) and causes major devastation to a U.S. city.  However, unlike in Thor, where the god/alien just ditched out, Hercules is unable to just leave after the fight and is instead confronted by S.H.I.E.L.D.  Coulson tells him that not only did he cause millions of dollars of property damage, but he is also on the hook for fighting without authorization (because only Coulson is badass enough to tell off a super-strong alien with a huge battleaxe!).  He then gives Hercules a choice:  leave and have all Olympians banned from Earth for the foreseeable future, or make a deal with Coulson, who will protect Hercules in exchange for Hercules working off his debt with Coulson’s friends at Damage Control.  Hercules grudgingly accepts the deal.

An Olympian working for Damage Control as a glorified loader is exactly the kind of humor I want to see in the MCU!


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With Daredevil season 2 being released about 1½ months before Civil War comes out, I think Marvel could easily tie the two together in a small way.  I don’t expect a lot of tie-in from Daredevil—the Punisher and Elektra (and Daredevil himself) should get the top priority—but there is still potential.  Because Daredevil is the only actual superhero currently active in the MCU (Spider-Man aside) with a secret identity, the Sokovia Accords would probably affect him much differently than, say, the Avengers—and even if his series is set before the Accords are actually signed, they may still be in the news.  Could Daredevil face blowback for Sokovia or the Chitauri (as Jessica did)?  Could the police start hunting Daredevil down instead of working with him?  What will Foggy and Karen’s opinions be of the Accords?  What if his war with the Hand is even used as a justification for applying the Accords to all heroes/vigilantes, even ones as street-level as Daredevil?

Luke Cage season 1 is currently in production and will probably be out sometime this summer (after Civil War opens), so it would be a prime opportunity for Marvel to explore the impact of the Sokovia Accords on the street-level heroes.  Luke Cage is already going to be on the run from the police (based on both his appearance in Jessica Jones and what we know of Luke Cage, odds are pretty good that he’s an escaped convict, like in the comics), so it would not be much of a stretch for the Accords to play into the series.  Perhaps the police eventually do capture him and learn about his super-strength and unbreakable skin, and they give him 2 options:  either go back to jail (for a crime he claims not to have committed) or sign a section of the Accords which would permit him to work as an official agent of the NYPD.  Instead, Luke takes the third option and escapes from custody once again, seeking to clear his name and fight crime his own way.

The Defenders, less one
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Over the rest of Phase 3, we will probably get quite a few more Netflix seasons:  Iron Fist, Jessica Jones season 2, and The Defenders are only the announced ones; The Punisher is rumored to be on its way, as well, and will probably be confirmed shortly after Daredevil season 2 is released.  Even if none of these Netflix shows directly reference the Sokovia Accords, the Civil War, or any events from Civil War, I think it should still be clear that they are taking place in a universe where the Accords are in force.  The police may be willing to incarcerate a criminal that Jessica or Iron Fist captured, but they should be just as willing to arrest the heroes for operating without oversight.  The Punisher could be an interesting character to explore in the context of the Sokovia Accords:  if the police forced him to work for them, would that work out for anyone?

When The Defenders eventually comes out, we will see at least 4 (my vote is closer to 8) heroes on screen fighting criminals on the streets of New York.  If that concept is evoking memories of an earlier incident, you might see where I’m going with this.  Given the relative proximity of the Defenders to the U.N.’s New York City headquarters, I can absolutely imagine a scenario in which the Defenders come to the U.N.’s attention and they try to “recruit” the Defenders under the Sokovia Accords.  And I can absolutely imagine that if that scenario plays out, the Defenders will refuse, go into hiding, and be hunted by U.N. peacekeeping troops on American soil—and I’m not sure which would leave a worse taste in the general public’s mouths between heroes fighting criminals and U.N. troops hunting heroes down!

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Though none of these TV shows really have to become “Civil War on TV,” I really think that Marvel needs to let both the prelude to Civil War and aftermath of Civil War play out on the small screen if they want to do this event justice the way that they have presented it so far.  I do not expect to see any of the Avengers appear on the TV shows as part of Marvel’s Civil War (which is not the same thing as the movie), though that would be really cool.  Instead, I expect that Civil War will shake up the entire Earthbound MCU, and the political and ideological effects of that shake-up will be felt on some level in everything that happens for the next several years.

So I guess the answer to the question I posed near the beginning of this whole series, “Can Marvel do the Civil War justice?” is an unequivocal “YES.”  Marvel absolutely has the characters, teams, and venues to do the Civil War justice.  And if they really do (through multiple movie and TV tie-ins), then it will be a massive, epic event that puts everything to come before it in entertainment to shame.  And if they do, then we as fans will be getting more than our money’s worth!

How much tie-in do you want to see between Captain America: Civil War and Marvel TV?  Do you like my proposed scenario for Damage Control?  What kind of tie-ins do you want to see on the small-screen?  Let me know in the comments!

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