On Agents of SHIELD Canonicity

Agents of SHIELD is one of the best superhero shoes out there. The characters are complex and nuanced, the storylines are believable and engaging, the effects border on acceptable. I get it. The show is cheesy. It’s campy, it’s cringey, it’s lo-fi. 

I’m not saying it’s the most polished, cinematic, earth shattering piece of media coming from the last few years of Marvel’s golden bravado that crescendoed with the Infinity Saga, and Thanos: One of the most convincing, terrifying villains we’ve ever seen. 

There’s recently been a raging debate regarding whether or not Agents of SHIELD is canon in the MCU universe. I present a few reasons to explain, one way or the other, just how canon AoS is.

Timelines

Avengers: Endgame fixes the errors of the Avengers’ past through the famous ‘Time Heist’, involving every remaining member of the Avengers, and time travel. During the adventure, we come across familiar characters and locations, one of whom is the Ancient One, who holds the title of the Sorcerer Supreme, who holds the time stone, one of six infinity stones. You know this. Everyone knows this. I’m just reminding you.

Ancient One explains that removing an infinity stone from the past would cause that timeline to diverge completely. She doesn’t want her reality to have its infinity stone removed, and risk compromising their timeline. 

It’s a pretty good explanation of branching timelines.

Now. I know that recently Loki is throwing a wrench in a lot of time travel logic and theories, especially considering that it’s all about time travel and pruning alternate timelines.

So in essence, in a series of events ‘a- b- c-’, if something changes in event ‘b’, then the timeline progresses ‘a- B- C-’. 

Dimensions

There are also ‘dimensions’, mentioned in the main MCU movies and in Agents of SHIELD. Dimensions like the ones introduced in Dr. Strange, who also call them planes. The film refers to the Dark Dimension and Mirror Dimension. Agents of SHIELD, too, has dimensions. The Fear dimension is of particular interest. 

A version of the Mirror Dimension appears in AoS in season 4, as the Ghost Rider goes to and from wherever he comes from to fight demons and hide the Darkhold. 

Ghost Rider uses the same portal as Dr. Strange and his magicians do.

Why do I bring this up in this order? Because it’s imperative we understand that there is a difference between Timelines and Dimensions. Timelines exist within dimensions. The dimension that the MCU exists in has multiple branching or (not branching) timelines within that dimension, but other dimensions may (and do) have timelines within them. 

Secondly, the infinity stones are incredibly powerful artifacts that originate within their own dimensions.

The Infinity Stones

The first true explanation of the infinity stones is in Guardians of the Galaxy. According to the Collector, the stones are ‘singularities’ that existed before creation itself, forged into concentrated ingots after the birth of the universe. Wong explains the infinity stones as ‘elemental crystals’ that originate at the dawn of time. Neither of these origin stories explicitly conflict with the coming explanation for the canonicity of the Agents of SHIELD within the MCU. 

The Monoliths

The first Monolith that appears in the Agents of SHIELD is labelled The Kree Monolith, and it transports Agent Simmons to a different planet at the end of Season 2, directly following the reveal that Coulson was secretly working on a Helicarrier, which is the last time the show influences the MCU. 

The rest of the Monoliths appear all at once, in Season 5, in the Lighthouse. These Monoliths are never truly or comprehensively defined, even in the wikis. In fact, the wikis fail to register the multiple appearances of the monoliths. The page for the season 5 monoliths doesn’t even acknowledge the Kree monolith. The page, and the show, explain the monoliths as objects that have power over time, space and creation. Sound familiar? 

So let’s take inventory:

Infinity StonesMonolithsPower
Red – Thor 2: TDWKree Monolith (?)Reality
Blue – AvengersSpace Di’AllaSpace
Purple – GotGPower
Green – Dr. StrangeTime Di’AllaTime
Yellow – Avengers: AoUCreation Di’AllaMind
Orange – Avengers: IWSoul
The Kree Monolith could also double as a space stone, but that’s a whole new post.

The Monoliths are Infinity Stones

It stands to reason that the monoliths that we’ve seen are the Fear Dimension’s equivalents of their own Infinity Stones, and that tampering with these stones created branches between the MCU and the SHIELD continuities, bringing me to my grand thesis that the Agents of SHIELD show is canon, and it diverted from the MCU timeline far before anyone even realized: back in season 2. Full disclosure, the Monoliths may not actually be Infinity Stones, but they have striking resemblance in their functionality and it stands to reason that the resemblance they bear is… uncanny. 

The Space Monolith is the tesseract but uglier, the Time Monolith is the Eye of Agamoto but prettier, and the Creation Monolith is the Reality Stone. Think about it, the apparitions in Season 5 The Real Deal were easily dispatched, and latched onto a version of reality. I want to say that there are other Monoliths in the Fear Dimension that are unexplored and unknown, even. 

The wildcards are a) the lack of existence of the other infinity stone equivalents, and b) the Kree Monolith. The Kree monolith is said to have been brought by the Kree as some sort of experimental device or technology, and it was used to banish the first Inhuman created by them: Hive

The first wildcard can be explained as the other stones simply haven’t been found or appeared yet. The second wildcard is a bit more difficult as it’s hard to figure out where the Kree got theirs from. Seeing as how the Kree monolith is literally identical to the other monoliths, it’s not a stretch to say that they too found a way to meddle with the Fear Dimension. It’s not the point though. The point is to prove that these items of power are tied directly to their dimensions, not their timelines

The infinity stones exist in the main timeline, and all the timelines that run in parallel, but within each dimension. 

The Split Timelines

So. Ancient One says that removing an infinity stone splits that timeline from the rest, creating a new branch. Explanations of timelines in the Agents of SHIELD follow the same rules. Timelines exist within dimensions. The monoliths came from the Fear Dimension. The monoliths have powers that parallel the infinity stones. 

The first time the Monoliths take someone who wasn’t meant to be taken, when Simmons is swallowed up in an accident at the end of season 2. This is also the season when Coulson is revealed to have been working on a project titled Theta Protocol, which ties in directly with Avengers: Age of Ultron. Wanna know something whack? That’s also the last time the show ever affected the MCU, or vice versa. As in, the agents stop having to deal with the fallout from the movies. No more cleaning up after Thor: The Dark World, or helping the Avengers track down so and so. This is also when the MCU stops bringing up SHIELD as an institution. Before this, Winter Soldier does dismantle SHIELD as an institution, but SHIELD, according to the show, doesn’t stop existing. 

In Conclusion

Now, I know that with Loki‘s introduction to the MCU, there’s a lot of hubub being made around timelines and time travel and the TVA makes the ground that this theory is standing on very shaky. I get it. There’s quite a bit of hand waving that’s gotta happen, but in order for AoS to exist as canon, all we need to know is that the deviation in the MCU timeline occurred far before it’s ever been a problem.

Within the mechanics of the universe created for the Marvel movies, we can definietly say that AoS is canon in terms of the storytelling and plausibly canon in terms of technicality, but based on the very explanations given in the main MCU movies, it doesn’t matter.

The Agents of SHIELD show is canon, and it diverted from the MCU timeline far before anyone even realized: back in season 2. 

Links

https://marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Di%27Allas

https://marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Space_Di%27Alla

https://marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Creation_Di%27Alla

https://marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Time_Di%27Alla

https://marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Izel%27s_Realm

https://marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/HYDRA

14 Times When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Were Directly Linked To The MCU Movies

https://marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Agents_of_S.H.I.E.L.D.

https://marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Kree_Monolith#Origin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Features_of_the_Marvel_Universe#Dark_Dimension

https://marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Sibyl

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