Over 30 years since Marvel Entertainment has aired a proper television series based on one of its franchises, Tuesday’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brought the company’s super heroic razzle-dazzle back to the small screen... entirely in the shadow of the 2012 blockbuster, The Avengers. There’s no question that expectations flew higher than Iron Man in the mesosphere, leaving us wondering if S.H.I.E.L.D. would be able to keep pace with earth’s mightiest movie. So did it? Read on for our final verdict!
Firstly, for those who were curious—or clinging onto that last shred of hope—the Avengers are nowhere to be seen in this series, unless one counts the opening’s fleeting montage of blurred clips from the heroes’ titular film. Essentially there’s no Thor, Hulk, or Loki, save for a few passing references peppered throughout to maintain in-universe continuity. Still, what sounds like a detrimental creative decision is actually one of the things we looked forward to most and loved about S.H.I.E.L.D. With the heavy hitters out of the way, executive producer Joss Whedon has more room to shed a spotlight on the characters and events going on under the radar. And suffice it to say they’re plenty exciting, all indicative of a multifaceted world being built.
And speaking of this world, the fallout from the conflict with the alien Chitauri, the development and misuse of Extremis in Iron Man 3, and Super-Soldier Serum come together to create a big ol’ heap of trouble for the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as a shadowy organization going by the handle Project Centipede—whose ultimate figurehead remains a mystery—is utilizing them all to imbue the desperate and weak-willed masses with unstable super powers. Needless to say, the series is going to have stories to last a lifetime (hey, we’re entitled to dream), but the manner in which Whedon and his team combine these once disparate elements together into a greater whole makes the Marvel cinematic universe feel even more streamlined, making good on Marvel Studios’ hefty promise that these movies will always build up to something epic given time.
Regardless of its being revealed in the commercials, we found it impossible not to feel an overwhelming sense of fan elation over the triumphant return of everyone’s favorite everyman: Agent Phil Coulson! Even if Marvel decided to keep it under wraps till the last possible second, the scope of what’s planned to go down in S.H.I.E.L.D. lends itself to Coulson taking command of the situation, complete with the can-do attitude we’ve come to admire about the guy. As a matter of fact, the clandestine circumstances behind his odd resurrection is the B story to whoever is passing out powers like party favors. Is he a clone, a robot, or something else entirely? Only Whedon himself knows (but we have our own theories, thank you very much), and this is yet another reason why you’ll find us tuning in week after week.
If you’re a fan of Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or a plethora of Whedon’s other creative works, then you likely know that S.H.I.E.L.D. was going to be brimming with, as we are wont to call them, “Whedonisms” throughout the show: Over-the-top, well-orchestrated action sequences; science jargon; references to popular culture; and levity of the sharp, geeky variety. Succinctly, you’re in familiar territory. But if you happen to be a neophyte when it comes to Whedon’s creative inclinations, then all we have to say is you're not welcome at our lunch table. We’re kidding, though, in all seriousness, it’s the comedic and scientifically technical hallmarks that may end up being an acquired taste for some, or an outright turnoff.
We can wax poetic about S.H.I.E.L.D. into infinity, but there was one scene in the episode’s climax we found a little... bizarre, even by Whedon standards. To keep this as semi-spoiler-free as feasibly possible, the literal and proverbial “silver bullet” used to cure Mike Peterson—a character in the final, explosive throes of his superhuman augmentation via Extremis—of his adverse side effects was a tad hard to swallow. Yes, one must go in with their disbelief suspended, though last time we checked, anything traveling with the force of a bullet, and capable of penetrating the skull, is usually lethal.
Minor gripe notwithstanding, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the one show worth watching on Tuesday night. Summed up as Homeland by way of Heroes, you can’t go wrong with Agent Coulson and company!
What did you think of the premiere?