Are the Marvel Netflix Shows MCU Canon?

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Spoilers for Marvel’s Hawkeye below! A hotly contested debate among Marvel fans for the past six years has been the status of the Marvel Netflix TV shows (Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and The Defenders) and if they were or weren’t part of the actual Marvel Cinematic Universe. There was always an arm’s length of distance between the two though as Marvel Television produced the shows and Marvel Studios produced the movies (the new Disney+ shows are made under the Marvel Studios banner now as Marvel TV has been dissolved as an entity in the company), but now the lines have begun to blur and fans are no doubt questioning all this again.

Previously alluded to in the series, the most recent episode of Hawkeye did what had been rumored (not to mention debunked as being false) and brought Vincent D’Onofrio‘s Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin officially into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A blurry photo on a cell phone is all we get of the character in the show’s penultimate episode but it’s definitely him, and the thought that everything we saw happen on Netflix being officially canon is no doubt on some fan’s minds. There’s also the matter of the Man Without Fear. Kevin Feige has already confirmed this week that Charlie Cox will be reprising his role of Daredevil/Matt Murdock in the MCU proper at some point, meaning that two key pillars of the Marvel Netflix shows are now in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

So case closed, right? Not so fast, my friend. Consider the implications of two of the most recent entries in the MCU that were released on Disney+ earlier this year, Loki and What If…?. In the former the concept of variants was introduced, alternate reality versions of characters that existed on various timelines and ranging from the drastically different to the almost the same. The later of those two showed off the multiverse in full, bringing us all-new universes in every episode and colliding them with a team made-up of heroes from across the multiverse. All of which makes us wonder, are the Marvel Netflix shows an alternate universe? And thus, are the versions of those characters that we’re now seeing in the MCU variants of what we’d seen before?

The vaguest suggestions of events in the Marvel Studios movies take place in the Netflix TV shows, things like referencing someone with a “magic hammer” or a “green guy” in Harlem. None of the plots from the movies ever interacted with the shows since there was seemingly no actual interaction between Marvel Studios and Marvel Television. All that in mind we’re going to wager that the official position Marvel Studios will take on this matter is that the Netflix shows exist on their own timeline/universe and that the versions of Kingpin and Daredevil they’re now introducing will have all-new narratives that aren’t totally dependent on what happened in those shows; but first they have to say as much.

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Sadly we won’t know for sure if the shows are canon or not until Marvel takes an official position on it. The good news is this though, if they say that the shows were canon, that’s great; and if they say that they’re not canon/they’re rebooting the characters to fit better into the MCU, fans still win. Marvel potentially acknowledging that the Marvel Netflix characters are variants of the ones we’ll see in the MCU still means those stories count, as long as they’re stories that you want, because they exist in the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse. Plus, when you’ve got an entire multiverse at your fingertips, whose to say which universe is the main one but you the viewer?

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