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Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 Won't Address The Decimation For An Interesting Reason

It may take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will spare us the trauma of seeing any of our favorite characters crumble to dust in the upcoming sixth season. According to showrunner Jed Whedon, there's a reason for this — one just as intriguing as it is potentially spoiler-y.

Whedon made his remarks regarding season 6 to Collider, and if you want to stay completely spoiler-free for Avengers: Endgame — which hits the big screen in just a few short weeks — you may not want to be privy to them. They do, however, make a lot of sense in the context of what we've seen with our own eyes of the post-Infinity Saga MCU so far... that is to say, the trailers for Spider-Man: Far From Home, which will release just a couple months after Endgame.

First, a bit of background. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted in 2013, taking as its mantra the idea that "it's all connected" — that the series would serve as a kind of narrative glue filling in the events between Marvel's tentpole pictures. This would turn out to not exactly be the case, as the show has long endured criticism that while it pays the requisite amount of lip service to the greater happenings of the MCU, the extent of the "connection" between the series and the films just hasn't been particularly robust. To be sure, there have been plenty of peaks in which the connection was undeniable; for example, the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D. during the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier loomed large over the series' narrative from 2014 on, and it was Phil Coulson's team that discovered the secret HYDRA base upon which Tony Stark and company mounted an assault during the opening scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron (one of Coulson's final lines in the episode before that flick dropped was actually, "It's time to call in the Avengers"). Later seasons of the series, though, have stuck largely to their own self-contained storylines (some would say wisely), but one would expect such a cataclysmic event as the Decimation — in which the Mad Titan Thanos, having finally assembled the Infinity Gauntlet, wiped out half of all life in the universe with a snap of his fingers in last year's Avengers: Infinity War — to at least be acknowledged during S.H.I.E.L.D.'S upcoming season.

This will not be the case,  but according to Whedon, there's a simple and compelling reason for that (and we must state once again that potential spoilers for Avengers: Endgame follow). It's not because what was once connected is now unconnected — rather, the showrunner seems to imply that the events of Endgame might see the Avengers alter the timeline to the extent that the Decimation (or Snappening, if you will) never happened at all.

"Some of these problems might be solved in the next Avengers movie. And so not knowing how they're going to handle some of that and the fans not knowing any of that stuff, we felt like we couldn't touch it, because of the second movie that was going to come out where they're going to tell a whole new part of the story," Whedon said. "So the fact that our air date is after [Endgame's release] works out. We'd always sort of planned [it] that way. That we were going to wait until that movie comes out and then our story can continue without us having to address it."

It seems like a pretty bold gamble to map out S.H.I.E.L.D.'s sixth season (and for that matter, the seventh, which has already been ordered) under the assumption that the Decimation simply wouldn't have to be addressed at all. It's almost as if Whedon knows something we don't (which he almost certainly does), which brings us back to those Spider-Man: Far From Home trailers, and a simple yet telling comment made by one of that flick's producers, Sony's Amy Pascal. 

In 2017, Pascal and Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige were making the promotional rounds for Spider-Man: Homecoming when they were asked about the timeline, narrative-wise, for Spidey's then-untitled solo sequel. Pascal pre-emptively put an end to any speculation that the flick would take place earlier — that is, pre-Infinity War — in the MCU's timeline, saying, "We are starting now the next one, which will start a few minutes after Avengers 4 wraps as a story." (via Fandom)

Knowing what we know now — that Spider-Man was one of the many heroes who were dusted when ol' Grimace snapped his fingers — her comment gives interesting context to what we've seen of Far From Home. One would expect Peter Parker to be traumatized, haunted by his own "death" (and possibly his time spent inside the netherworld of the Soul Stone, but that's another story). Instead, we see an upbeat Peter, comfortable with his fame and burgeoning status as a friendly neighborhood superhero, yet ready for a break from the daily super-grind — so much so that he initially leaves his costume at home when he departs for a European sojourn with his Midtown High classmates. He certainly doesn't appear to be a shell-shocked, battle-hardened veteran of the most terrible, destructive conflict the universe has ever seen; he looks every bit like the naive, precocious, annoying (if you ask Happy Hogan) teenager that we met in Homecoming, just perhaps with a little more experience under his belt. 

Together with Whedon's remarks and apparent confidence in leaving the Decimation out of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s storyline altogether, this seems to point to the fact that in Endgame, the Avengers won't so much reverse the event as they will erase it from the timeline altogether. Thanks in large part to leaked set photos depicting the team revisiting the Battle of New York with an anachronistic Ant-Man in tow, we know that some form of time travel will be involved in their strategy to defeat Thanos; even the Endgame trailers seem to suggest that Thor, who is seen in some of the spots appearing to be back at the Battle of Wakanda casting a meaningful glance at his Stormbreaker axe, will get a second chance to level the Mad Titan before the dreaded finger snap can take place. Perhaps he'll actually go for the head this time — but more likely, given the imminent departure of Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. from the MCU, it'll be up to onetime adversaries Captain America and Iron Man to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to thwart Thanos' genocidal plan.

We'll be able to see for ourselves before too long (at least, those of us who were actually able to get tickets) when Avengers: Endgame, the twenty-second and final film in Marvel's Infinity Saga, hits the big screen on April 26.