In recent years, ABC has developed a reputation as being the go-to broadcast TV home for Marvel properties, much like how CW is known for its close relationship with DC. However, unlike the CW's roster of DC dramas, not all of ABC's Marvel series have been able to find a solid fanbase, let alone critical acclaim.
ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey discussed the current state of the network's Marvel properties with TV Guide during the Television Critics Association winter press tour. In a nutshell: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. remains strong; Inhumans not so much; and they're figuring out what the future will be for the partnership between ABC and Marvel Studios, both of which are owned by Disney.
"We are really excited about this fifth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," Dungey said. "I think it's the strongest creative that we've had yet. And the fans seem to be really responding to it well. We made the move [to Friday] pretty much intact; our ratings are essentially the same as they were. Delayed viewing continues to be strong, so we're feeling optimistic about that show."
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fifth season premiered in December and shook up the status quo of the show by moving the action to a space station 80 years in the future. The series will air its hundredth episode in March, and reviews for the drama have drastically improved over the years.
Dungey is not as optimistic about Marvel's Inhumans, however, which debuted to underwhelming ratings and savage reviews after a heavy promotional campaign that included becoming the first network show to debut in IMAX screenings last year.
"Inhumans was a really big swing for all of us which I don't think quite landed with the impact we would have wanted," she said. "The numbers were a little disappointing. We didn't quite stick the landing. We haven't made any firm decisions yet, but I think that one's a longer shot."
As for ABC and Marvel's relationship beyond Inhumans and S.H.I.E.L.D., we'll see. They both want another hit, and they're taking their time working out what it will be. "We don't have anything currently in our development hopper for pilot consideration this January, but we've had a number of meetings and conversations between ABC, ABC Studios and Marvel to really try to figure out what our sweet spot is," Dungey said. "We're very committed to trying to figure that out."
So if you own hypothetical Marvel/ABC stock, hold S.H.I.E.L.D., short Inhumans, and go long on futures, but don't bet too big yet. And who knows, maybe they'll decide to revisit Agent Carter and give us the revival we're all still rooting for.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Fridays at 9/8c on ABC.