Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why These MCU Superheroes Will Never Appear In Marvel TV Shows

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a massive franchise hit. Even films that are less critically beloved still manage to collect a tidy profit with no obvious decrease in audience enthusiasm. High-flying action, endlessly charismatic stars, and an expanding world that appeals to both hardcore comic book fans and regular moviegoers alike... the MCU really does seem to have it all.

But the MCU extends farther than the big screen — there's also a slew of Marvel-branded television shows. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. goes so far as to directly spin storylines out of the movies, while the various shows under the Defenders umbrella on Netflix establish New York after the fallout of 2012's The Avengers. Still, while fans might delight at the occasional Easter egg or cameo, there seems to be an impenetrable wall separating the television properties from their movie counterparts. What's keeping the MCU's big-screen stars from visiting their television counterparts? Here's a look at the reasons these MCU superheroes will never appear on Marvel TV shows.

Star-Spangled retiree

We'll start, fittingly, with the "first Avenger" himself, Captain America. While fans have delighted at seeing Chris Evans' good-natured hunk appear in a few surprising places — including hilarious cameos in Thor: The Dark World and Spider-Man: Homecoming — that's not going to last forever. Evans has been playing America's blond beau since 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, and he seems eager to move on to brighter pastures. Starring roles in well-regarded films like Snowpiercer and Gifted only seem to have encouraged Evans' desire to move away from superhero films.

The final nail in the coffin was a profile in the New York Times where Evans remarked that Avengers 4 would be his last appearance as the Sentinel of Liberty, explaining, "You want to get off the train before they push you off." With his imminent retirement as Captain America looming, it's unlikely that we're going to see Evans reprise his role anywhere, let alone on a television show.

Billionaire is no exaggeration

Captain America might be the "first Avenger," but he's not the one who actually started the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That would be Robert Downey Jr.'s "genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist" Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man. 2008's Iron Man was such a successful movie that it nearly single-handedly reinvigorated the superhero movie as a genre, catapulted producer Kevin Feige into the upper echelon of Hollywood, and brought Downey Jr. back as a genuine A-lister. Director Jon Favreau deserves some of the credit, of course, but Downey carried the movie with a performance that instantly endeared him to millions of moviegoers.

Turning Tony Stark into a household name gave Downey some impressive bargaining power which he's used to jaw-dropping effect. Nearly every Marvel movie he appears in has been accompanied with articles discussing the ridiculous paycheck that he's been able to procure. His role in Spider-Man: Homecoming clocked in at just barely above a cameo with only about 15 minutes of screentime, but he was paid $10 million, according to Variety. Meanwhile, rumors have swirled that he commanded a $200 million salary for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4. Even if Downey returns for more Marvel films following Avengers 4, there's basically no possible way that any television show's budget could afford him, even for the smallest possible cameo. That's not even including the price of the high-quality CGI that the Iron Man suit itself would cost.

Mocap, mo' problems

CGI is wonderful for bringing a filmmaker's most outlandish dreams to life, but it definitely isn't cheap. Sure, it's generally less expensive to fill a huge battlefield with computer-generated soldiers than actually hire thousands of extras to duke it out, but continued focus on a CGI character that the audience needs to emotionally connect with? That's beyond a television budget. Unfortunately, that means that we're unlikely to ever see Groot and his best buddy Rocket Raccoon on the small screen. Getting those adorable faces to emote just right is costly.

What's more, even if by some miracle a Marvel television show was able to afford the expensive CGI team needed to bring everyone's favorite sentient tree and trash-talking raccoon to life, there's an equally slim chance that they could afford Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, who voice Groot and Rocket. Add in the fact that the Marvel shows tend to be more comfortable in alleys and hallways than the starry regions of space, and we're left with the extreme likelihood that Groot and Rocket will probably stick to the cineplex. But hey, we'll always have Groot playing the "Defender" video game in Avengers: Infinity War, right? That's sort of like a crossover with The Defenders.

The Invisible Hulk

At first glance, one might assume that the biggest obstacle to the Hulk smashing his way through television screens would be the cost of CGI. It's true that it would be expensive to feature the Green Goliath in all his CGI glory, but Bruce Banner's actually got a bigger problem keeping him from appearing on television: ownership rights.

As it stands now, Universal owns the right to a solo Incredible Hulk movie, which is why the Hulk has been appearing in so many other franchises in the MCU instead of holding down his own. Mark Ruffalo himself confirmed it when he told Variety, "A stand-alone Hulk movie will never happen because Universal has the rights to the stand-alone Hulk movie and, for some reason, they don't know how to play well with Marvel." As for what that means with television appearances, no one's quite sure, but the fact that it hasn't happened yet is a good indication that the Hulk isn't likely to cameo in Daredevil anytime soon.

No one can find these super spies

It's not just the superpowered MCU heroes that won't be showing up in Marvel television shows — there's very little chance that you'll be seeing Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow or Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye on television any time soon. While their down-to-earth powerset (spycraft and shooting arrows, respectively) seem to lend themselves naturally to a smaller budget, the fact remains that Johansson and Renner are A-listers in Hollywood, with enough clout to choose their roles carefully.

Plus, it's hard to imagine Marvel Studios would be willing to invest the money needed to secure them for a cameo when they've had nearly six years to do so on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. There's no other Marvel show that has been as tightly related to the MCU as S.H.I.E.L.D., and despite a cameo from Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury, Black Widow and Hawkeye have been conspicuously absent. In short, if it was going to happen, it would've happened by now.

God (of thunder) has abandoned us

It's no accident that many of the characters covered here were introduced in the MCU's Phase 1 slate of films — it can be exhausting playing the same role for years, and many of the actors' contracts are ending after Avengers 4. Chris Hemsworth's Thor is no exception; the actor bluntly stated in an interview with USA Today, "Contractually, right now — yeah, this is it. I'm done. I won't be playing the character again." While his use of the word "contractually" could hint at the possibility of a return as the Norse God, Hemsworth has been fairly definitive about his disinterest at returning to the character.

In fact, the only time Hemsworth has seemed to even consider the possibility of more Thor is when he talked about reuniting with director Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok). Unfortunately, it's pretty unlikely that Waititi would jump to the small screen for any of the Marvel shows, and even unlikelier that Hemsworth would be willing to reprise the role for TV just to work with Waititi. Enjoy those abs in Avengers 4 while you can, fans.

Too busy for TV

While Chris Pratt is the newest Chris to headline a Marvel movie, he hasn't exactly struggled to find success in Hollywood. When he isn't guarding the galaxy as Star-Lord, he's fighting dinosaurs in Jurassic World, leading a toy revolt in The LEGO Movie franchise, and getting ready to roll out a brand-new comic book-inspired franchise in Cowboy Ninja Viking. Sure, Pratt came to prominence as the beloved Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation. He might be more willing to step back to a television role than the average movie star, but it's unlikely that he'd even find the time even if he wanted to.

Plus, Star-Lord depends on his relationship to outer space and the other Guardians far too much; plop Peter Quill back on Earth with none of his alien friends, and there's not a whole lot he can do that any other character couldn't do better (and cheaper, considering the paychecks Pratt draws).

A genuine movie star

Ant-Man and the Wasp did more than just cleanse the palate after Avengers: Infinity War's grim ending — it also brought back the original Wasp, Janet van Dyne, from the Quantum Realm. The Wasp's been a major Marvel mainstay since the first issue of The Avengers, and director Peyton Reed honored the character's historical comics bona fides by casting Michelle Pfeiffer to play the role. Even better, the franchise has already established that she and Michael Douglas' Hank Pym spent years working as superheroes saving the world in secret.

It would be amazing to see Pfeiffer's Wasp pop up in some form or another on a Marvel TV show, especially considering how little screen time she got in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Don't hold your breath, though: aside from a 1995 cameo on Picket Fences, Pfeiffer hasn't appeared on TV much since the early '80s, when she was still fairly unknown. This three-time Oscar nominee has chosen her projects more carefully than ever in recent years, and a return to the small screen seems extremely unlikely.