SHIELD collapsed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, causing massive upheaval for Agents of SHIELD, which was developed with that in mind.
The status quo in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is erased in Season 1 when SHIELD collapses, which the showrunners had in mind during the development of the series. Agents of SHIELD began as a sci-fi / spy TV series, exploring the death and resurrection of popular MCU supporting character Phil Coulson and having him lead a team of elite SHIELD agents. Towards the end of the show’s first season, SHIELD crumbles, having been infiltrated by the terrorist group Hydra decades ago. While the twist may seem like it ruined the show’s long-term plans, it was always planned by Agents of SHIELD creators.
The sixteenth and seventeenth episodes of Agents of SHIELD take place at the same time as Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The critically acclaimed Captain America solo film shows the downfall of SHIELD after Steve Rogers thwarted the blueprints of Alexander Pierce and the other Hydra agents hidden within SHIELD. In an MCU version of Operation Paperclip in real life, SHIELD employed former Hydra members in the 1940s, allowing their Nazi ideology to fester in their ranks in secret. Even if The Winter Soldier seeing the death of Alexander Pierce and the failure of Project Insight, Hydra endured. SHIELD, unfortunately, collapsed in an official capacity.
The History of Marvel Studios: The Creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe explores how the events of The Winter Soldier affected Agents of SHIELD, revealing a fascinating detail. As the book explains, “… in The Winter Soldier, everyone agreed to revisit SHIELD and demolish everything. (Marvel Entertainment and ABC Studios, despite the popular misconception, also knew this before they developed their Agents of SHIELD TV series).“This highlights the fact that Agents of SHIELD was developed with The Winter Soldier twist in mind, allowing showrunners to establish a status quo for almost an entire season before delivering a punchy twist that further intertwines the series with the continuity of the MCU.
A mysterious organization called “Centipede” tormented Coulson and his team throughout Season 1 of PROTECT. Centipede was led by an enigmatic figure known as “The Clairvoyant”, but when SHIELD collapsed, Centipede was revealed to be a sub-division of Hydra. The Clairvoyant turned out to be John Garrett, a veteran SHIELD agent and a high-ranking Hydra sleeper. However, Garrett wasn’t the only hidden villain, one of the biggest punches in Hydra’s gut being that Grant Ward had been a part of Hydra from the start. A part of Agents of SHIELD showrunners, such as Jed Whedon and Brent Fletcher, felt they should take advantage of The Winter Soldier twist by making at least one of Coulson’s team members a Hydra sleeper. It was a devastating turn when Grant Ward, who had undoubtedly become a favorite with many viewers by the end of Season 1, murdered another SHIELD agent and revealed his loyalty to Garrett.
Synchronization between Agents of SHIELD and The Winter Soldier is one of many examples of MCU interconnecting. What’s more, Shields the showrunners made excellent use of the upcoming twist to show the true impact of Hydra’s infiltration of SHIELD. The Winter Soldier shows only a fraction of Hydra’s betrayal, with team members Pierce and STRIKE being the most prominent sleepers. Its creators being aware of the collapse of SHIELD in advance, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD shattered a team of fire-forged friends with the shocking twist of Ward’s allegiance to Hydra.
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