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The age-old question of which Marvel characters are in play, or at the disposal of Marvel Studios’ creative decision makers, came up again at the studio’s first Television Critics Association press day today. So could fan favorites from the "old" era of Marvel TV make a return?
President of Marvel Studios and Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Kevin Feige fielded queries from television critics and reporters who wanted to know about how prior, recent history television series based on Marvel characters —like Netflix’s Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, etc. and Hulu’s Helstrom and Marvel's Runaways— are different from what Marvel Studios are doing creatively now.
“It was a different team of storytellers telling stories in a different way,” Feige said of the shows not affiliated creatively with Marvel Studios. “But we continue making series just as we developed all our features. And I do think we have such a solid team here who are anxious and willing to take chances and risks that presume fans will stay with us to do 90 minutes of storytelling in a black and white sitcom,” he joked, a reference to the high-concept approach to WandaVision on Disney+. “We’re just telling stories the way we have since Iron Man.”
He added that the history of Marvel is vast and includes many things of which he’s had zero control over. “I’ve always paid more attention to the things I did have control over than the things I did not,” he clarified. Citing the days when Fox made the X-Men movies or Sony was making Spider-Man films as licensed properties and not equal partners with Marvel Studios, Feige said the licensing of the recent Netflix and Hulu-used characters, and what was done with them on those networks, was not under his purview and not “something we thought about.”
Asked if Marvel Studios has the rights to do whatever they want now with The Defenders characters or other characters used by Hulu Marvel series, Feige clarified that the reality about whom has the rights to specific Marvel characters at any given time are usually rumors. “Some are true and some are not true,” he said of the constant fan and media speculation churning on social media about the complicated rights deals to Marvel characters. But he left the door ajar to anything happening with his oft-uttered, “never say never,” in regards to television characters that could be repurposed, return, or handled in entirely different ways in future MCU stories.
He also said the same about characters from the recently completed run of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., especially Clark Gregg whose Agent Coulson died in the MCU timeline in The Avengers, but was revived for several seasons of adventures on the fan favorite small screen series. Coulson has only appeared again in one MCU film, Captain Marvel, where the story took place in the 1990s long before the events of The Avengers.
“It was fun to have Clark Gregg in Captain Marvel,” Feige enthused about one of their O.G. MCU characters. But as to specifically using Coulson in anything else, Feige only offered, “We’ll just have to see.”