Even with Marvel now owning Disney, and “The Avengers” making money hand over fist in 2012, “Agents of Shield” is still a risky spin-off. So the writers have to basically depend on lip service to “The Avengers” without depending on it wholesale. Even with the fan loyalty Joss Whedon sports with all of his series, “Agents of SHIELD” is a risky venture. They’re still third tier characters in the movies, and the last time we saw them in on TV, they were being led by David Hasselhoff and battling an evil bouncing ball. So, the series does everything it can to ensure audiences this is a Marvel universe series, without seeming similar to other shows about big agencies.
So far, the series has peaked my interest with some very unique stories afoot. Plus, before the show ended, ABC insists “Make sure you watch every episode until the very end,” which means there will either be an Easter Egg at the very end of every episode, like the Marvel movies, or you will have to have seen the previous episode to catch up. Like the Marvel movies. There’s a brief flash of the Avengers, and much lip service and winks to Spider-Man, and the whole superhero mythology, and “Agents of SHIELD” seems to be in the right mind set. Set after the battle of New York from the finale of “The Avengers,” everyone in the Marvel Universe is now aware of the presence of super beings, monsters, and aliens, and the world has changed. If you have ever read comics, you’ll know that it’s a well known fact that no character ever stays dead for long.
So, after being impaled by the Norse villain Loki in “The Avengers,” Agent Coulson has returned. Basically, the show really couldn’t float without him, since Coulson was one of the bigger and more entertaining draws for the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. He linked them together and gave them an episodic atmosphere. Clark Gregg is also very entertaining as Coulson, so of course Coulson is back. He explains briefly that he died for a few seconds, and awoke in Tahiti where he recuperated and came back in to service. “SHIELD” is so secretive that they even keep secrets from their top agents. So Ron Glass from “Firefly” appears as a doctor who knows something about Coulson’s time in Tahiti that Coulson clearly doesn’t. Perhaps it was an illusion, or maybe Tahiti was the afterlife and SHIELD figured out how to take him out and bring him back in to service. Who knows?
Coulson leads a rag tag group of agents, very much in the Whedon mold. They’re mismatched, they’re talented, and they have great chemistry. There’s an online group called “The Rising Tide,” and Coulson seeks to snuff out their cause while trying to figure out the identity of a hooded hero who saved a bystander in an explosion in a lab. We learn in the episode who the character is, and sadly it’s fairly unimpressive. I gather for now there will be a case by case episode run for the first season that will lead in to the inevitable villain. The source of the superpower is yet unnamed and barely hinted, so eventually SHIELD will find its nemesis. Hopefully, it’s AIM. “Agents of SHIELD” has witty banter, and a rapid fire pacing, exploring the more hush hush aspects of the Marvel Universe that’s less flash and more business oriented.
The Agents are superheroes with moral shades of gray, and their costumes are their black suits. The pilot has a lot of ground work to cover and hopefully can break in to its own as another of Whedon’s many unsung heroes series like “Firefly” and “Buffy.” What with Marvel churning out movies like they’re on a time crunch, I hope “Agents of SHIELD” can act as a wonderful companion with cameos from third tier heroes from the universe. Perhaps Heroes for Hire? Daredevil? Perhaps even re-inventing heroes like Deathlok or Darkhawk? I’ll be along for the ride to see where Marvel’s taskmaster Joss Whedon takes us.
Airing Tuesdays On ABC in America. Check Local Listings.