the defenders

Marvel Studios has been telling us for years that “it’s all connected,” though those connections are often less explicit now that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has expanded – massively – into episodic television. It all still takes place in the same world, of course, but with the exception of a few plotlines crossing between the films and ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and passing references to ‘The Avengers’ on the various Netflix shows, the movies and the TV shows have largely occupied their own separate corners of the universe.

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but given how much of the franchise’s appeal is based on the potential for crossovers between its component parts, fans have never really stopped wondering if and when we might see, say, Daredevil stand side-by-side with Spider-Man. But what about the people charged with making these movies? After all, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is nothing if not an occasion to throw every conceivable character into the same movie. While we know that the television heroes won’t be appearing in the film, was it something that was at any point considered? Speaking to, ‘Infinity War’ co-director Joe Russo explained that while a crossover between the TV and movie characters simply hasn’t been a priority, it’s a possibility that is never far from the minds at the helm of the MCU:

“We’ve all considered. But the trick is that we already have at least sixty characters with whom we must tell a story! And it’s hard enough to communicate with Taika Waititi, Ryan Coogler, Scott Derrickson, Peyton Reed, and James Gunn at the same time, not to add all the showrunners and TV crews to this. The latter is also led by totally different people. So it’s practically impossible. Our job is to focus on the Marvel film world and offer a satisfying climax.”

Put another way, the reason the Defenders and the Avengers aren’t likely to cross paths anytime soon is not a lack of interest (either on the part of fans or creators), but rather it’s due to the conflicting demands of film and television production. Simply put, films – especially Marvel films – tend to be planned well in advance. For example, virtually every movie Marvel has produced in the last three years has had some direct relevance to ‘Infinity War’, meaning that they had to have a fairly solid sense of what they wanted to do with the film for at least that long. In that same span of time, the entire run-up to ‘The Defenders’ took place. Even setting aside the corporate politics and how crowded an affair ‘Infinity War’ already is, they would have had to know where each Defender would be years in advance (including, for example, the fact that Daredevil would be off the table), which is fundamentally at odds with how TV shows are typically plotted out.

‘Avengers: Infinity War’, which represents a culmination of ten years of cinematic storytelling, will arrive in theaters on April 27, 2018. On the television side, ‘Agents of SHIELD’ is currently wrapping up its fifth season, while the ‘Luke Cage’ prepares to kick off its second season on June 22, 2018.