There’s something afoot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I’m not talking about how half of everyone and everything is dead now including all the puppies. The MCU may be 20 movies deep but it also contains 11 TV series. Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, The Punisher, Inhumans (nothing to see here), Runaways, and now Cloak & Dagger. And there’s a common thread running through them now too.
I’m not asking you to watch all those shows. I know that’s a lot of extra Marvel hours and their quality is much more inconsistent than the movies. But I have watched nearly all of them, and something keeps coming up over and over. If it were in this many comic books it would be a sign that a major event was coming and I just really want to talk about it.
The villains are all after something deep underground.
Exhibit A: Daredevil, The Defenders
In Daredevil, blind lawyer Matt Murdock’s other senses are so powerful that he can use them and his own incredible agility to defend the streets of Hell’s Kitchen. After defeating(?) The Punisher, Matt’s ex-girlfriend Elektra asks him to help her investigate a ninja organization called The Hand. This leads them to a building with a massive mysterious hole in the ground.
They toss something into it to test it’s depth and they never hear it reach the bottom. Then ninjas attack, they run away, yadda yadda yadda, Elektra dies and they don’t really come back around to the hole. That is, until about a year later when The Hand has built an entire office building on top of the hole in the ground. Matt meets Jessica Jones, a Private Investigator with super strength, Luke Cage, the bullet proof protector of Harlem, and Danny Rand, the most infuriatingly annoying billionaire kung-fu master with a glowing super hand in the world. Together they discover The Hand is burrowing down to replenish the “substance” that makes them immortal. But if they get to it, it’ll destroy New York City.
It’s dragons. Or dragon bones? Look, the villain stuff isn’t very compelling or good in The Defenders. You’re mostly there to see Jessica Jones roll her eyes at everything I’ve been talking about for two paragraphs. But at the bottom of the pit is basically a dragon graveyard and it looks like The Hand is trying to take the bones to make their substance. Anyway, the Defenders collapse the building on top of the hole and ending the threat. A weakness The Hand wouldn’t have if they just kept it as a warehouse around the hole.
So if there’s a dragon graveyard beneath New York, how does that connect to…
Exhibit B: Runaways
In Runaways, five LA teenagers (with attitude?) discover their parents are of a murder cult. But, like, a sci-fi murder cult called The Pride where each family has their own gimmick or powers. From left to right, Karolina discovers she has disco light powers and can fly, Molly has super strength, Alex doesn’t really get a power but he does have great hair, Chase builds fire blasting gauntlets called fistigons, Gert has a psychic connection with a velociraptor, and Nico can cast spells with a magic staff.
They turn against their parents and learn that they all work for that guy who played Doctor Doom in that first Fantastic Four movie. With their skills combined, they constructed a drill to reach something deep underground. However, the teens get to the drill, stop it, fight their parents, and finally, mercifully, RUN AWAY.
We don’t know what The Pride is after beneath Los Angeles. Sure, it could be dragon bones, it could be something alien (Karolina’s parents are aliens), or if it follows the comics it could be a couple six toed giants who intend on destroying the Earth. We don’t know!
But then with a mystery something beneath LA and a dragon graveyard under New York, does that have anything to do with…
Exhibit C: Agents of SHIELD
Five seasons in, the Agents of SHIELD who just couldn’t stay retired after Captain America shut the organization down in Winter Soldier got shanghaied to the future. In that time, the Earth was broken apart and what was left of humanity mined the remnants of the planet for alien overlords. They manage to find a way back to the present, but every decision they made from there on was made with the knowledge that it could lead them closer to this future.
Their adventures bring them to a substance from season one called gravitonium. Nathan Petrelli from Heroes winds up absorbing a whole load of it and gaining the power to control gravity. In order to stop Thanos (yeah that’s also happening), he tries to dig more Gravitonium out from under Chicago. Luckily SHIELD stops him from breaking the entire planet apart in time. Unluckily, that future they prevented never went through a Thanos snap. So you win some you lose some.
So not only is there a whole load of gravitonium beneath Chicago, there’s more of it all over deep underground. Gravitonium’s only use is, well, disrupting gravity and apparently absorbing people’s consciousnesses. It’s real weird, but it all worked on a character level so I can’t fault the show. (Agents of SHIELD is the best Marvel show don’t @ me.)
So there’s a large deposit of Gravitonium under Chicago and elsewhere under the Earth, some strange in the neighborhood beneath LA, that dragon graveyard deep below New York, but then is any of that related to…
Exhibit D: Cloak & Dagger
Cloak & Dagger, currently airing on Freeform, begins with two eight-year-olds named Tandy and Tyrone who live in New Orleans. An oil rig from the Roxxon Corporation (also mentioned in Iron Man 3 and Agent Carter) blows up just off shore, distracting Tandy’s dad on the road enough to get them in an accident that throws them into the water, and shocking a cop enough to shoot Tyrone’s brother who he dives in to save. Something in the tanker explodes and, when Tandy and Tyrone meet again eight years later, superpowers awaken between them.
Tandy’s investigation into Roxxon (her dad helped build the oil rig) has revealed that they weren’t digging for oil at all, but some new and more powerful energy source. We don’t know much about it, but burns “ten times better than oil and is twice as hot.” However, since the disaster Roxxon has been covering the whole mess up. we don’t know if they still want this energy source or if they want to cut their losses and move on.
That makes for the second mystery thing deep underground on the list. It’s also unlikely we will find out in the near future. Cloak & Dagger as a series is more concerned with people and grief. Tyrone wants to convict the cop that killed his brother and Tandy wants to redeem her father’s legacy, maybe also find a stable place to live. I can’t even point to a comic series for this since they’ve changed so much from the source material/ It’s all uncharted territory and also a very good show.
This leaves us with dragon bones beneath New York, something beneath LA, Gravitonuim beneath Chicago and various, and a mystery fuel beneath New Orleans. Oh! And Vibranium beneath Wakanda!
Conclusion: What the Hell is Going on Deep Underground
The nerdiest part of me wants to believe there’s a plan, that Marvel is using the TV side of things to build to something in the next phase or so. Like there’s something in the core of the Earth that’ll threaten the world or something about our planet being made by The Builders and they planned for so many sources of superpowers down there.
But let’s be honest, this is all just a coincidence. Four different writers’ rooms writing shows on four different channels and streaming services thought of ideas completely independently. Nobody at the top of Marvel noticed and the world will spin on and that’s fine. Occam’s razor and all that.
Or maybe it’s all dragon bones.
PS, wow I didn’t realize how long it’s been since my last post here. In this case I have legitimately been inspired and writing elsewhere but I should do better. Sometimes I’ll have an idea for a piece, lose sight of it, and think of it as non-relevant by the time it comes up again. Maybe I need to shut that voice up? As always I’ll try to do better.