Warning! Spoilers ahead!
After months of promising that its comic book movies would impact the show, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns tonight with an episode that further explores the after-effects of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Are Marvel and Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) creating a dangerous precedent? What will be the long-term business effects of establishing this sort of cross-media continuity?
Host Ellen Bowman puts these questions to Fool analysts Nathan Alderman and Tim Beyers in this episode of 1-Up On Wall Street, The Motley Fool's web show in which we talk about the big-money names behind your favorite movies, toys, video games, comics, and more.
As viewers, Tim and Nathan say that Hydra's reappearance and the disassembling of S.H.I.E.L.D. adds heft to a show that needed it. Live+7 ratings -- where Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tends to excel -- should soar once word of the changes spreads.
And yet, in a way, The Winter Soldier probably didn't go far enough. Comic book writer Marc Bernardin, who also writes for The Hollywood Reporter, pointed out on Twitter that the movie could have easily made reference to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in an end credits scene. That the directors chose not to reinforces the notion that Marvel sees TV as a vehicle to market movies, and not much more.
Or, perhaps, it's a device to stitch together continuity. By establishing an interlocking Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tim says that Marvel and Disney are guaranteeing an endless series of crossovers and universe-threatening events that demand audiences show up for the next exciting installment. We've seen both Marvel and DC use this strategy to sell comics for years, and it usually works for a time. But it can also drive readers away and force reboot after reboot. Investors need to understand the risk when evaluating just how big this segment of Disney's business can become.
Nathan says it'll be years before this risk manifests, if it ever does. In the meantime, the shared Marvel universe is expanding Disney's opportunity by giving birth to new, monetizable properties. Captain America: The Winter Soldier has already teased a Dr. Strange movie while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is developing a resurrected and arguably more powerful Hydra, which could become a permanent antagonist in both the MCU and on Marvel TV.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you believe Marvel is taking a risk by creating an in-continuity universe where TV can impact comic book movies, and vice versa? Please watch the video to get the full story, and then leave a comment to let us know where you stand. And be sure to check back here often for more 1-Up On Wall Street segments.