After seven long seasons, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can no longer claim to be aligned with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s timeline - not after skipping Thanos’s Snap and the five-year Blip that followed. But along the way, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. managed to cross over with the MCU far more than it’s given credit for - with some of those moments going well beyond references and Easter eggs to truly expand upon the franchise.
Despite debates over canon and continuity, there’s no doubt that the events of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. belong firmly within the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. Not every S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline has had something to do with The Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy, but plenty have - including some of the show’s best.
Other ‘Avengers’ Characters To Cameo Included Maria Hill And Jasper Sitwell
Coulson and Fury aren’t the only SHIELD agents to appear on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Maria Hill, appearing in three episodes across three seasons, gets more screen time in S.H.I.E.L.D. compared to her three Avengers appearances combined.
Two other Avengers alumni also show up on S.H.I.E.L.D., though their allegiance to the organization itself ultimately proves quite suspect. Agent Jasper Sitwell appears in three Season 1 episodes before being exposed as a HYDRA mole and slain by Bucky Barnes in The Winter Soldier. Gideon Malick, whose silhouette makes a cameo in The Avengers as a member of the World Security Council, turns out to be the head of HYDRA and sticks around to plague the agents as an antagonist throughout Season 3.
The Series Fittingly Concluded The Abomination’s StorylinePhoto: The Incredible Hulk / Universal Pictures
A throwaway line in the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ends up doing a lot more than just referencing the Marvel Cinematic Universe - it provides closure to the storyline of the franchise’s first superpowered villain.
Emil Blonsky, better known as the Abomination, was defeated by Bruce Banner’s better half at the conclusion of The Incredible Hulk - and that’s the last anyone has ever seen or heard of him. That is, until Coulson decides to threaten a rebellious agent, saying, “What you're doing is against protocol, so if you endanger an operation or if anyone gets hurt, I'll reassign you to Barrow, AK, and you'll spend the rest of your years pulling the night shift guarding Blonsky's cryo-cell.”
With one bit of dialogue, AoS gives fans a solid answer as to why a character as powerful as the Abomination hasn’t broken out of prison yet - he’s being kept on ice.
The ‘Centipede Device’ Was A Four-Fold MCU Reference
The so-called Centipede Device and the technology behind it was created by HYDRA from within SHIELD, and intended to empower an army of superpowered soldiers to help take over the world. Instead, the Centipede Project was shut down by SHIELD agents in their first season of action - but not before it became clear that the whole endeavor was a four-fold MCU reference.
It would eventually be revealed that the Centipede Device consists of a delicate blend of the Super Soldier Serum that beefed up Captain America, the gamma injections that hulked out Banner, and Aldrich Killian’s Extremis tech from Iron Man 3 - all housed in an applicator crafted from Chitauri metal. Later on, the project even goes so far as to incorporate Inhuman abilities into the device, referencing one of the franchise’s least-discussed properties.
The Reveal Of HYDRA In ‘The Winter Soldier’ Changed ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Forever
Many criticized Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for meandering through much of its first season, but it would soon become apparent why they had to do so when HYDRA emerged from hiding in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and turned the whole show on its head. Multiple members of the cast, including series regular Grant Ward and recent addition John Garrett, were revealed to be HYDRA operatives in hiding - a reveal that would have deadly implications for a handful of other agents.
HYDRA has remained a constant hostile presence throughout the rest of the series in one form or another, truly living up to their motto of “Cut off one head and two more shall take its place.” AoS has gone on to provide far more backstory for the evil organization than the MCU’s films ever could, including the fact that their logo was based on an actual immortal Inhuman monster that they worshipped - who knew?!