Following on from our in-depth look into the storylines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we now turn to the small screen. Since 2013 with the premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Marvel Cinematic Universe has expanded beyond the films with a number of televisions series. Agent Carter expands upon its eponymous title character, while the combined Netflix series explore the street-level heroes of New York. Over the coming months and years, even more are set to debut: Iron Fist. The Defenders. The Inhumans. Cloak and Dagger.
Keeping all the storylines straight is sometimes a heroic effort. So here’s a guide to the MCU television series storylines.
Relocating to California for its second season, Agent Carter continued to explore the adventures of Peggy Carter as she navigated sexism, politics, and intrigue in post-World War II America. And once again, she did the majority of her adventuring behind the back of the SSR with the long-suffering Edwin Jarvis. Season Two introduced another major concept from the Marvel Universe: the Darkforce, also known as Zero Matter. Peggy also had to contend with the shadowy Council of Nine and the Zero Matter-infused Whitney Frost. She also struggled to reconcile her feelings for lost Steve Rogers, and her burgeoning attractions to Jason Wilkes and Daniel Sousa.
Season Two also unveiled more of Peggy’s past. She was a codebreaker who was due to marry before the death of her brother Michael during the war pushed her into intelligence work. During the course of the season, Agent Jack Thompson comes into possession of a heavily redacted file that suggests that Peggy did some very questionable things during the war. The file was only labelled as “M. Carter,” leading to the possibility that the file was not Peggy’s, but her deceased brother’s. Agent Thompson was shot in the season finale and the file retrieved by person unknown.
Unfortunately, Agent Carter became the first Marvel Cinematic Universe television series to be cancelled. In another blow for Agent Carter fans, Peggy finally passed away in Captain America: Civil War. Her funeral and the eulogy delivered by her niece, Sharon Carter, was the impetus that led to Steve Rogers refusing to sign the Sokovia Accords.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
After the events of previous seasons led S.H.I.E.L.D. to be destroyed and then become a clandestine organization under Director Phil Coulson, the events of Captain America: Civil War have led the agency to be re-legitimised. S.H.I.E.L.D. has a new mandate and a new director – the Inhuman Jeffrey Mace. Daisy Johnson has left S.H.I.E.L.D. following the battle against Hive and the death of Lincoln Campbell. Coulson is partnered with Mack in tracking her down. Agent May is training new operatives, Fitz is helping Holden Radcliffe to develop the artificial intelligence Aida, and Simmons is the new scientific advisor to the director.
The widespread activation of Inhumans and their effect on society takes a backseat to the arrival of the Spirit of Vengeance in the form of Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider. Robbie joins forces with Daisy, and both ally with S.H.I.E.L.D. to investigate the mysterious Darkhold book and the powers it contains. S.H.I.E.L.D. and Ghost Rider take on Robbie’s uncle, Eli Morrow, who sought to control the powers of the Darkhold.
By the end of the mid-season finale, Robbie Reyes had seemingly sacrificed himself to stop the machinations of his uncle. Coulson believes Reyes will be back – since he knows that the previous Ghost Rider also survived a trip to hell. As the season closes, it is revealed that Agent May has been replaced by another staple concept of the Marvel Universe – the Life-Model Decoy – by Aida.
Matt Murdock is on a high. Wilson Fisk is in prison, and his self-proclaimed mission to protect Hell’s Kitchen is proceeding smoothly. Then Frank Castle arrives and blackens the name of vigilantes in the city. Matt Murdock tries to help and redeem Frank both as a lawyer and as a vigilante. Neither works that well, with Frank pointing out that the only difference between the two of them is that he is willing to kill. He believes that Matt is one bad day away from being him.
To add to Matt’s troubles, his ninja ex-girlfriend Elektra Natchios turns up after ten years. Her return draws Matt deeper into the coming war against the Hand. Matt struggles to balance his life as both lawyer and vigilante. By the end of the season, Matt is seemingly alone. Elektra is slain at the hands of Nobu. His friendship and law practice with Foggy Nelson is in tatters. And his relationship with Karen Page teeters on a knife edge as he reveals his identity as Daredevil to her.
Wilson Fisk may be imprisoned, but he has taken the incarceration in his stride and made the best of his situation. He is not beaten, and has a plan to rebuild his empire and get revenge on Daredevil for his ignominious defeat. The Hand are still a constant threat, and they have a plan of their own to resurrect Elektra. And the war that Stick kept warning Matt about is still coming.
Superpowered private investigator Jessica Jones runs the detective agency Alias Investigations. She is also withdrawn from the world, self-medicating with alcohol following her ordeal at the hands of Kilgrave. Using his ability to mind-control anyone, Kilgrave subjected Jessica to emotional and physical abuse. Finally breaking free of his control after being forced to kill Reva Connors, Jessica believed him to be dead after being hit by a bus. In the aftermath, Jessica found solace in the bottom of a bottle and lives day-to-day.
Kilgrave returned to Jessica’s life after years of healing and planning his ultimate goal: to get her to fall in love with him of her own free will. His obsession with Jessica fuels his life, and he is convinced that she loves him – and that she just has to realize it. When his plan failed, Jessica realized that her greatest fear was no longer a factor – he could no longer control her. In revenge, Kilgrave set out to destroy her life. It ended with Jessica snapping Kilgrave’s neck.
Jessica has effectively been broken for many years, but despite everything that has happened to her, she is starting to heal. She’s accepted her friend Trish Walker back into her life, Kilgrave is actually dead this time, and Alias Investigations stands ready to help the hopeless.
A former cop and wrongfully convicted felon, Carl Lucas was sentenced to prison at Seagate. During his time there he was forced into an underground fight ring that led him to undergo an experimental treatment to heal his wounds. The treatment was sabotaged by prison guard Albert Rackham, causing Carl to develop super strength and impenetrable skin. Escaping from prison aided by the prison psychologist Reva Connors, he took the name Luke Cage and headed to New York.
Hiding in Hell’s Kitchen, Luke and Reva ran a bar until she was killed by Jessica Jones while under Kilgrave’s thrall. Luke did not know about Jessica’s involvement in his wife’s death when he started a relationship with her. But the truth eventually came out and Luke also succumbed to Kilgrave’s control. Directed to kill Jessica, he was ultimately stopped by a shotgun blast to the head. Recovering, he fled to Harlem and hid out at Pop’s barber shop.
Events in Harlem, precipitated by the death of Pops, led to Luke confronting local crimeboss Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes and his own half brother, Willis “Diamondback” Stryker. He defeated both, but his past as Carl Lucas was discovered. Luke Cage may be Harlem’s hero, but Carl Lucas is still a felon. Albeit an innocent one now with evidence to support his wrongful imprisonment.
Frank Castle is a dangerous man. The tragic deaths of Frank’s family in a crossfire between rival gangs and federal agents has sent him into spiral of revenge and grief that has pushed his sanity to the edge. And he may never get it back. Frank is the poster child for everyone’s worst fear of what a vigilante could be. A relentless and remorseless killer.
Frank’s public trial shows just how volatile he is. Despite being convicted, he escaped prison and tracked down those who were responsible for the deaths of his family, including the mysterious Blacksmith. Forging an unlikely friendship with Karen Page, Frank continues his one-man war on crime.
By the end of Daredevil Season Two, Frank Castle has fully embraced his new persona as the Punisher. He helped Matt defeat the Hand, then finally let go of his past. Frank has a mission to punish criminals in all their forms. He has the training, the weapons, and nothing more to lose.