The Avengers finally went up against Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and set events in motion that could change the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Which means, of course, that Marvel’s television shows are going to have to address what happened in Infinity War. Right?
Infinity War’s very first scene makes it crystal clear that Thanos is willing to murder anyone who stands in his way as he collects the Infinity Stones to carry out his ultimate plan of wiping out half of the universe’s population. Loki and Heimdall are the first heroes to meet their deaths at Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet-ed hand, and for a while, it seems as if Infinity Wars’ most significant deaths might be limited to characters that, if we’re being honest, the franchise could continue on without relatively easily.
But as the movie goes on, the bodies keep piling up. Thanos tearfully flings Gamora to her death in order to retrieve the Soul Stone from its mysterious location, and when the Mad Titan takes the Time Stone from Doctor Strange, hope is all but lost. The earthbound Avengers and their Wakandan allies fight valiantly to hold Thanos’ forces at bay as he makes his way to the Mind Stone in Vision’s forehead, but in the end, the heroes simply aren’t strong enough. Thanos secures all six of the Stones into the Gauntlet, snaps his fingers, and literally half of the people in the universe straight up disintegrate. Save for the OG Avengers, Nebula, Rocket, and War Machine, all of your faves are dead—their ashes scattered on the winds as Thanos seemingly wins the titular war.
Obviously, this is all very sad, but it raises a number of interesting questions about what Thanos’ actions will mean for Marvel’s oft-neglected television universe which, despite appearances, is still technically connected to the literally-cinematic parts of the MCU. In Infinity War, we see that the disintegration is, in fact, affecting all parts of the universe, including New York City—meaning that at the very least, there’s no way that the Defenders can’t be unaware or unaffected by what’s happening. It stands to reason, though, that the entirety of the Earth and all of the MCU would be affected in major ways.
In the past, Marvel’s Netflix shows have touched upon the Battle of New York from the first Avengers, but the shows have always treated “The Incident” as more of an unfortunate thing that happened one time and not like the literal alien invasion that it was. And at the peak time of “it’s all connected,” ABC’s Agents of SHIELD had some great Captain America: The Winter Soldier repercussions. Since then? Well... not so much. But it’s kind of hard to downplay the equivalent of a universe-wide rapture and it would make no sense if the casts of the Netflix series Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Punisher escaped unscathed.
The same is true for all of Marvel’s shows, including Cloak & Dagger, Runaways, and the upcoming New Warriors, but it’s particularly pressing for Agents of SHIELD, which actually made an explicit reference to “all the weird stuff happening in New York” in its most recent episode. Considering Infinity War’s final moments, you can’t really leave everything hanging with an off-handed comment.
In a kinder world, it would just be a bunch of weird stuff that could be casually dismissed as a random anomaly that nobody had to worry about factoring into their storylines. But the MCU belongs to Thanos now.