The Marvel Cinematic Universe won over audiences around the world through its carefully-plotted direction, likeable characters and exciting storylines. Much like comic books, the franchise quickly began to expand until making its way to the world of television. The first MCU-set TV series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., premiered in 2013. The show went on to find great success, as audiences couldn't get enough of Phil Coulson, Daisy Johnson, Fitz, Simmons and Melinda May. Numerous other shows based on Marvel properties followed shortly after the release of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., including Agent Carter, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, the list goes on. Despite varying levels of success, almost all of those series were embraced by both comic book geeks and general audiences alike. One of the most exciting aspects about MCU-set TV shows is the potential ties to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
To fans' dismay, however, the small screen and big screen corners of the superhero franchise have, for the most part, remained separate from each other. More often than not, ties between the two mediums boil down to references or name-drops in TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter. Still, there have been instances in which Marvel TV series have featured direct connections to the larger MCU. As surprising as it may sound given the separation between the two mediums, the MCU's shows and films have connected many times throughout the years. With that in mind, we thought it would be great to take a look at 20 times in which MCU TV series tied into the films.
20 ROXXON'S LOOMING PRESSENCE
The Roxxon Oil Corporation made its MCU debut in Iron Man as an Easter Egg during the film's climactic battle. The company was teased once again in Iron Man 2 and it finally took a more prominent role in Iron Man 3 -- specifically during its eye-popping final battle. Following its various big screen appearances, the corporation was carried over to the small screen side of the MCU.
Roxxon has been featured in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter and Daredevil. The company also plays a pivotal role in Cloak & Dagger. In the show, Roxxon is established as the reason behind the young heroes' strange powers. Thanks to its frequent appearances, Roxxon has become a significant connective thread between a variety of heroes in the MCU.
19 NICK FURY'S HELICARRIER IN AGE OF ULTRON
MCU fans who aren't caught up with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may not be aware that the show plays a major role in Age of Ultron. During the film's third act, Ultron lifts Sokovia off the ground to use it as a human-extinguishing meteor. The Avengers struggle to figure out how to get all the civilians in Sokovia to safety, but fortunately for them, Nick Fury shows up with a Helicarrier to assist in the evacuation.
Fury simply states that he had some old friends fix up the ship. These "old friends" refer to Coulson and his team. As it's revealed in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson slowly repaired one of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s old helicarriers so that it could be available for Fury whenever he needed it.
18 JESSICA JONES DEALS WITH THE AVENGERS' AFTERMATH
In The Avengers, Earth's Mightiest Heroes were celebrated for their victory over the invading Chitauri forces. As it's revealed in Jessica Jones' first season, however, there were also a whole lot of people who weren't happy with the colorful team of superheroes. At one point in the season, Jessica is hired by a woman to look into her supposedly cheating husband.
Digging deeper into the case, Jessica discovers her new job to be a ruse. In reality, the client had hired Jones as part of an elaborate plot to kill her As it turns out, the woman lost her mother during the New York battle. Having wrongly assumed that Jessica had taken part in the fight, she set out to kill the P.I. Yikes.
17 THE LOCATION OF LOKI'S SCEPTER
Avengers: Age of Ultron's opening scene shows Earth's Mightiest Heroes raiding a heavily-armed Hydra base holding Loki's magic scepter. How the heroes learn about the top-secret location is never explained in the film. Fortunately, the seemingly small, yet important piece of information is revealed during a Season 2 episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In "The Dirty Half Dozen," Coulson and his team raid a Hydra base. During the commotion, the ever-reliable agent takes a detour to steal some secret data from Hydra, which turns out to be the location of the God of Mischief's scepter. Coulson then sends the location to Maria Hill, who in turn gives it to the Avengers.
16 THE CHITAURI INVASION BENEFITTED DAREDEVIL
The Netflix corner of the MCU has largely refrained from tying into its big screen counterpart, but there was one show that featured an important connection to 2012's The Avengers: Daredevil. During the show's first episode, Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson go see the building that will house their legal practice.
During Matt and Foggy's tour of the office space, the realtor informs them that "The Incident" caused real estate prices to drop significantly around Hell's Kitchen due to all the destruction that occurred around the area. This reduced price allows Murdock and Nelson to buy the office. There you have it: in a way, the Avengers helped Daredevil start out his legal practice.
15 LADY SIF IN AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Lady Sif played a major role in Thor and Thor: The Dark World as one of the God of Thunder's closest friends and one of Asgard's fiercest warriors. The character made the jump to television during Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In the episode "Yes Men," Sif arrives on Earth looking for Lorelei, a runaway Asgardian criminal.
The brave warrior returned to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Season 3 episode "Who You Really Are." The episode follows Sif as she's sent to Earth looking for a Kree soldier. The Asgardian hero loses her memory during her first encounter with her target, but she eventually completes her mission with the help of Coulson and his dutiful team of agents.
14 JESSICA JONES' MOM IS ALMOST SENT TO THE RAFT
In Captain America: Civil War, Tony Stark works alongside the US government to establish the Sokovia Accords, a law that requires superheroes to give up their secret identities and work under the law. Heroes who go against the Accords are sent to The Raft, a maximum security prison designed specifically for super-powered individuals.
The Raft is mentioned in Jessica Jones Season 2, when it's revealed that Jessica's mom, Alisa Jones, could be sent there as punishment for her murderous rampages. The prison itself is never actually shown since Jeri Hogarth cuts a deal to keep Alisa out of The Raft, but the namedrop was nonetheless a fascinating connection between Jessica Jones' world and the larger MCU.
13 HAMMER INDUSTRIES IN HARLEM
Justin Hammer was defeated at the end of Iron Man 2, but that wasn't the end for the eccentric businessman or his company. In Season 1 of Luke Cage, it's revealed that Hammer Industries retrieved Chitauri technology from the battle of New York and turned it into dangerous weapons. These were then sold around the streets, and eventually landed in the hands of Diamondback.
Diamondback used Hammer's Chitauri-inspired weapons against Luke Cage, and they ended up giving the hero a run for his money. Hammer Industries hasn't been featured in other Marvel shows or films since its brief appearance in Luke Cage, but it's exciting to know that Justin Hammer is still somewhere out there, causing trouble for the various heroes in the MCU.
12 GHOST RIDER'S TELEPORTATION POWERS
Robbie Reyes, aka Ghost Rider made his MCU debut in Season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. To the delight of fans, the hero established a fascinating connective thread between the show and 2016's Doctor Strange. During the Season 4 finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Reyes bids farewell to Coulson and his team of agents following the defeat of Aida.
After saying goodbye, Robbie surprises his friends by using his chain to create an inter-dimensional portal. As hardcore MCU fans noted, Reyes' portal is identical to the portals created by Doctor Strange through his sling ring. How Robbie learned to make such a portal isn't explained, but now we know that the fiery rider shares some abilities with Stephen Strange.
11 THE KREE
The Kree have been one of the strongest ties between the small and big screen side of the MCU. The alien race was brought into the franchise through Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. In the show, Nick Fury uses Kree DNA to bring Coulson back to life. The series also establishes the Kree as the ones behind the creation of Inhumans.
The alien race made the jump to the big screen in Guardians of the Galaxy. The film featured known Kree warrior Ronan the Accuser as its main baddie, and offered some interesting background on his culture. The Kree played a small role in the film, but they'll finally get their chance to shine in Captain Marvel, where they will take part in the legendary Kree-Skrull war.
10 NICK FURY IN AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Nick Fury is one of the biggest connective threads in the MCU. He's appeared in a number of different projects set in the superhero franchise, including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. That's right. Everyone's favorite super spy was featured in a surprise cameo during the Season 1 episode "0-8-4," where he's shown scolding Coulson for damaging a state-of-the-art S.H.I.E.L.D. airplane.
Fury pops up in the show once again during Season 1's appropriately-titled finale "The Beginning of the End." The episode features Nick in a more prominent role as he saves Fitz and Simmons from drowning and later helps Coulson fight off John Garrett. While brief, Fury's appearances in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. served as a perfect way to legitimize the show as part of the MCU.
9 WHIH NEWS
Some fans may not be aware of this, but the MCU has its very own news station: WHIH World News. The network has appeared in a large variety of projects set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including (but not limited to) The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, Runaways, Iron Fist, and even The Punisher.
WHIH's appearances are often subtle and easy to miss, which makes finding them all the more fun. The network was also used as part of the promotional campaign for Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man via a series of in-world reports related to the films' events, featuring interviews with characters like Scott Lang, President Ellis and Darren Cross.
8 BEN URICH COVERED BIG EVENTS IN THE MCU
Season 1 of Daredevil introduced audiences to Ben Urich, star reporter for the New York Bulletin. Urich made a name for himself taking down criminal organizations and powerful mobsters through his eye-opening exposes. His career wasn't all based around crime syndicates, however, because he also got to cover some important superhero clashes in the MCU.
This tidbit is revealed through an Easter Egg hidden in Urich's office. Look closely behind the reporter's desk and you'll notice two superhero-related news articles hanging on the wall. One is about the Hulk's battle against the Abomination from The Incredible Hulk and the other is about the Avengers' fight against the Chitauri in New York City.
7 SEAGATE PRISON
The 2014 short All Hail The King reveals what happened to Trevor Slattery, the Mandarin's impersonator, after Iron Man 3. Following the events of the film, Slattery is taken to Seagate Prison, where he makes a name for himself as an entertainer. The prison returned to the MCU three years later, during the first season of Luke Cage.
Staying faithful to Cage's comic book origins, the show establishes Seagate Prison as the location where the hero gained his super powers. Admittedly, this is technically a connection between a short film and a TV show, but given how All Hail The King stems from the big screen corner of the MCU, we thought it'd be appropriate to include it on this list.
6 BARON VON STRUCKER IN AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Early on in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Earth's Mightiest Heroes face off against Baron von Strucker, a ruthless Hydra operative who experiments on people with Loki's scepter. The villain has a relatively minor role in the film, so his backstory wasn't explained. Fortunately, fans get a better sense of who the character is in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Season 5 episode "Rise and Shine" takes a trip back in time to the '90s, when von Strucker is a student at the Hydra academy. Strucker is shown to be a vicious young man, even going as far as to bully his classmate, General Hale, during her workout session. The villain's appearance in the show is brief, but it serves as an interesting exploration of his younger years.
5 SPEEDBALL'S CHILDHOOD INFLUENCES
Marvel's New Warriors TV series will center around six young super-powered individuals who decide to use their impressive abilities to fight crime and defend the innocent. The show hasn't been released yet, but we already know about a cool connection between it and the larger MCU. Back in 2017, Marvel released character descriptions for the show's titular group of superheroes.
The description for Robbie Baldwin, aka Speedball, revealed that the young crime-fighter grew up watching the Avengers' Quinjet take off from Avengers Tower from his bedroom window. It's currently unclear when New Warriors will be released, but it will be interesting to see how Speedball's love for the Avengers shapes him both as a superhero and as a person.
4 IRON FIST'S HIDDEN SPIDER-MAN REFERENCE
Did you know that Season 1 of Iron Fist features a reference to Spider-Man? Don't feel bad if you didn't, because as surprising as it may be, the reference is hidden in the show's Italian dubbing. Near the end of Episode 3, Danny Rand discovers Harold Meachum's secret hideout and climbs it from the outside to get some answers. He's eventually discovered by Ward, however.
In the show's english-speaking version, Ward tells Danny he was climbing the building like Daredevil. Interestingly, in the Italian dub, Ward compares Rand to Spider-Man. The reference is quite small and ultimately not canon, but it was probably exhilarating for Italian-speaking fans to hear everyone's favorite web-slinger name-dropped in the MCU's Netflix corner.
3 PRESIDENT ELLIS IN AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.LD.
President Matthew Ellis made his MCU debut in 2013's Iron Man 3. Ellis played a crucial role in the film, to the point where he was even involved in the climactic final battle. Following his appearance in Tony Stark's third standalone adventure, the courageous President made his way to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Ellis is only featured in a handful of episodes, but he still gets to leave his mark on the show. He helps Coulson fight Gideon Malick, announces the fall of Hydra end eventually legitimizes S.H.I.E.L.D. in the eyes of the public. Ellis' appearance in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., while brief, serves as a fascinating exploration of his character.
2 ANTON VANKO IN AGENT CARTER
Anton Vanko, the father of Ivan Vanko/Whiplash, appeared during the opening scene of Iron Man 2. In the sequence, Anton dies in front of his son, which prompts Ivan to become the villainous Whiplash. Later on in the film, it's explained that Anton worked closely with Howard Stark for many years until being deported for espionage.
The character disappeared from the MCU after Iron Man 2, but he returned in Agent Carter. In the show's first episode, Peggy Carter and Jarvis approach a young Anton, at the time a Stark Industries employee, to get information on a weapon. Agent Carter presents Vanko as a rather pleasant individual, a far cry from the bitter and treacherous man he would become years later.
1 AVENGERS TOWER IN THE NETFLIX SHOWS' PROMOS
Marvel's Netflix TV may be much darker than films like The Avengers or Ant-Man, but they're still part of the MCU. This connection was made quite clear in the shows' marketing campaign. Prior to their respective releases, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage all got banners showcasing their respective characters standing around a New York City street.
These posters feature an exciting connection to the larger MCU: Avengers Tower can be seen in the New York skyline. Unfortunately, the tower is nowhere to be seen in the shows themselves, so the building's small appearance in the posters will have to do for now. Here's hoping we'll get to see Avengers tower in the skyline of a Netflix Marvel show one day.