'Helstrom': How the New Hulu Show Fits Into the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Helstrom is something of a weird outlier for Marvel. The 10-part series, which is streaming now on Hulu, is the last series to come out of Marvel Television. This part of the comics giant's business that was closed down in December 2019 and merged with the film unit, leading to a series of shows for Disney+ featuring characters from the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) like Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) and Scarlet Witch (Elisabeth Olsen).

This leaves Helstrom as something of a dead end. Initially, the show was set to be part of what Marvel called Adventure into Fear, a darker set of series on Hulu that would be set in the MCU but would not cross over into the films. This new franchise was set to be led by a Ghost Rider TV series, which would cross over with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. by having Gabriel Luna reprise his role.

However, Ghost Rider was abandoned in September 2019 due to creative differences between Hulu and the makers of the show, and all other potential Adventure into Fear ideas were also abandoned when Marvel Television ended later that year.

This leaves Helstrom as a standalone series. It has become such a standalone show, in fact, that its producer Paul Zbyszewski has hinted that the show has nothing to do with the MCU. On the FanboyFactor YouTube channel, he said: "We are not tied to the MCU. We are our own separate thing...There are Easter eggs in the show for sure, but they're more towards that Helstrom universe, and that Ghost Rider universe."

helstrom marvel cinematic universe
'Helstrom' is set within the MCU, but does not rigidly follow the canon of the movies. Hulu

Though Helstrom is not "tied" to the MCU (i.e. not "tied" to its canon and events like the Thanos snap that wiped out half the population in Avengers: Infinity War), there are still some signs within the show that the events are happening within the universe invented by the 2008 film Iron Man. For example, the show revealed that the Roxxon Corporation exists within its world.

The Roxxon Corporation is a powerful conglomerate within the MCU. It appeared within the three Iron Man movies, and played a major part in the series Agent Carter and a number of other Marvel TV shows. In Agent Carter, for example, we were introduced to its founder Hugh Jones (Ray Wise), a businessman who enjoys a long-lasting friendship with Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) father Howard (Gerard Sanders in Iron Man, Dominic Cooper in Captain America: The First Avenger and Agent Carter and John Slattery in Iron Man 2, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame).

However, the events of Helstrom are set in the Pacific Northwest, miles away from the Avengers Initiative or the headquarters of S.H.I.E.L.D., making the show feel like its own self-contained world.

There is, however, a neat piece of nominative determinism within the cast of the new show, where Victoria Helstrom is played by an actor called Elizabeth Marvel. Speaking to ComicBook.com, she said of the show's link to the MCU: "They'll be encouraged to open new doors and to whole different wings of this giant building of Marvel that they've never been in before... And now we're saying, 'Come over here with us to this whole new section,' and I think it'll be a great pleasure for people to do that."

Helstrom is streaming now on Hulu.

'Helstrom': How the New Hulu Show Fits Into the Marvel Cinematic Universe | Culture