So, Agent Carter. Pretty good! At least, I hear that. Like most of the UK and Europe, I've not seen it - and it's unsure when or if we will. It sucks just as much as it usually does when we're left waiting for a show, but in this case, it paints a worrying precedent as more creators establish shared universes.
To catch up you guys on the other side of the pond: When Agent Carter was confirmed to fill in the midseason break slot for Agents of SHIELD's second season, there was nary a peep out of any UK broadcaster about it arriving on our shores. In itself, not out of the ordinary, especially for TV imports - but then Channel 4, who air SHIELD over here, formally announced they had no plans to pick up Agent Carter at all last October, and since then, zip. Nada. Even with AC premièring in the US to rave reviews last week, still no one has mentioned Agent Carter over here, with not even a rumour as to who would pick it up gaining ground. It's a similar case across Europe too, with poor Ms. Carter, herself a English expat, nowhere to be found. It's seemingly not just a case of delayed transmission as it is with so many other nerdy shows like The Flash or Arrow, it's starting to look like we're missing out on Agent Carter for the foreseeable future. Or at least, missing out on being able to support the series legally - which is surely a bane for Marvel as much as non-US fans not having access to it is.
In any other situation this would just be another case of Non-US fans missing out on the immediate conversation around a series, but Agent Carter's presence as part of Marvel's increasingly expanding tableau of shared media makes its absence outside the US all the more keenly felt, and the fact that it seems like it's not coming over in the near future all the more disappointing. Since Iron Man kicked off the chain of the MCU, fans across the world have had access to every facet across the shared universe - including Agents of SHIELD (although from what I've researched, even that doesn't have as wide a distribution as it arguably should). Why should Agent Carter be any different? It's part of that same universe, meant on the same level as any other part of it.
The whole point of a Shared Universe is that you can take a step back and see how all these different stories and pieces of media connect together. It's been Marvel's biggest strength across its live-action franchises - part of the appeal is that you're not just heading into something that is a standalone film or a TV series, it's getting to see the latest expansion of their universe and seeing all the little things that connect this new piece to the rest of it. There's a reason why DC, Universal, and so many others (hell, we've even theorised about how franchises that aren't doing it should!) are leaping onto that bandwagon with their own properties - making each individual part of your output all link together into something grander gives fanbases a buzz in a way like few other things can. Those crossovers and references are immensely fun, especially for comic book fans. But to suddenly just not have part of that universe takes some of that fun away. What's the point in able to see the bigger picture when part of it is missing?
The interconnectivity that is the shared universe's biggest strength becomes its biggest weakness in this case, when you get the bits of media you do have access to referring to the bit that you don't (in the case of Agent Carter, you have her popping up every once in a while during SHIELD's second season - fun when you know the show is on its way, much less so when you know it isn't). The point of the shared universe is that it is such a zero-sum thing, that you have everything tying together, or it all falls apart. That means that as the global appeal of Marvel's universe expands, fans all over should have access to it. Sure, you could argue there's TV rights getting in the way, but considering ABC is a Disney owned network, it shouldn't be as much of an issue for Agent Carter - but arguably, this access-for-all should be an integral part of any of Marvel's distribution plans for its content, or any other company planning to jump on the shared universe concept. These properties have fanbases that extend across the world, not just the US, and they should get the same access to content.
In the grand scheme of things, maybe missing out on Agent Carter isn't as crucial to the Marvel Cinematic Universe compared to one of the movies. But it's still part of that universe - and not getting to appreciate and enjoy the whole thing puts a dampener on it. Take heed, content creators: If it's meant to be a shared universe, share it with everyone.
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