Two things before we get started:
1. This is not a “review” in traditional sense. That’s not my thing. If you want a typical review of the show then I’m sure there are tons of great ones out there for you to check out. My intention is to talk about the dynamics of how the show incorporates, and is incorporated in, the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. So, if you plan to keep watching the show, and you are unfamiliar with the connecting pieces, then this just may be the read for you.
2. I warn you now that, there ARE SPOILERS ahead. So, if you haven’t seen the show, or The Avengers, or even Iron Man 3, you may want to just stop reading here.
Last night’s premiere of Agents of Shield was huge. The ratings were phenomenal The show brought in over 11 million viewers and charted the biggest debut of a drama in 4 years.
This show is my version of the NFL draft. It’s not the real thing, but it’ll do while I’m waiting for the real thing (Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: Winter Soldier). I’m a major Marvel-nerd and I loved the show. While I don’t think the show itself is necessarily breaking new ground, I think it’s inarguable that the concept is brilliant. A television show that focuses on characters from an ongoing series of films. That’s unheard of. It’d be like if you had an entire television show about MI-6 but no James Bond (actually… that could be kind of cool).
The show starts by showing us a reluctant hero type character, who we eventually learn is named Michael Peterson. He rescues a woman from a building that’s on fire due to an explosion that just took place right above his head. Dude, runs into the building, gets the woman, and then just jumps like 6 stories to the ground. Obviously he’s more than just your run-of-the-mill Crossfit fanatic. What we eventually find out is that Mike has been an Extremis test subject and is chocked full of the stuff thanks to lovely little implant device on his arm, which might also have alien-tech blended with it (courtesy of the Chitauri invasion from The Avengers). Extremis, from Iron Man 3 is a very unstable substance that allows the subject who’s exposed to it to become inhumanly strong and resilient. It also has a slight side effect that can cause you to become a WALKING CHERNOBYL. We also find out that the woman that Mike saved was a doctor who helped him become a part of the test program. I immediately began connecting imaginary dots and I’ve deduced that there is a strong chance that AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics) will be a part of the show. Early on in the show there are references to “The Rising Tide”, and then all this Extremis business goes down and it just seems like an obvious plot development. AIM also was introduced in Iron Man, although, like Extremis, it’s origin was altered. Here, AIM was the brain-child of Aldrich Killian, who turned out to be “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”. I feel like this also solidifies the significance of a line from the Avengers that I’ve always said would come back to be important. When Dr. Selvig and Hawkeye are under Loki’s mind control and they’re building the portal devices, Dr. Selvig asks Hawkeye where he got all the workers to help them and Hawkeye responds, “Shield has no shortage of enemies doctor”. BOOM. That right there. I think this show is THAT line come manifest. AIM could be involved with “The Rising Tide”.
Another really interesting development, and the most buzzed about, is the return of Agent Phil Coulson, who was seemingly killed by Loki in The Avengers. Here in AoS, Coulson has basically put together a team that can function outside the constraints of the SHIELD and get shit done without having to check in at the office. It’s funny, cause I remember sitting in the theater with my pal Jeff at the midnight premier of The Avengers and when it ended people we’re like, “Coulson BETTER NOT really be dead.” Well, he’s not. Or is he? At the beginning of the show we see Coulson interacting with Maria Hill and when he leaves the room a scientist says to her “He still doesn’t know does he?” and she replies, “He can never know.” I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Coulson probably didn’t go Jack Shephard on us and it’s all just an elaborate dream, or purgatory, or The Bermuda Triangle, or wherever the hell Walt went.
My guess, like most other fanboys, is that Coulson is an LMD, or Life Model Decoy. Basically, he’s likely an android copy of the real (dead) Phil Coulson. Yeah, it’s kind of a cop-out, but that’s how comic books work. They notoriously undo things that they realize were crowd-pleasers, or undo things that were crowd-displeasers (We’re waiting on you, Superior Spider-Man). Basically, Coulson made people happy, so they wanted to bring him back. I don’t really care. He’s back! And I sincerely hope we get to continue to see him kicking some ass.
Let’s move on to some speculation shall we?
With Cobie Smulders popping up as Maria Hill in the pilot episode, I’m guessing we get sprinkles of her throughout this season until her regular gig over at How I Met Your Mother ends (which is also this season) and then next season (assuming there is one) we could see her take on a permanent role on AoS. I don’t think were gonna see the God of Thunder, or the Billionaire, or the Super Soldier, and definitely not the Big Guy. Not that I think this show is beneath them or anything; I just think that the producers won’t be fervently pursuing that. The point of this show is to look into the lives of the people who aren’t super or super-powered, and explore how they function in a world where monsters, and gods, and aliens ARE REAL. Humanity is faced with knowing that it isn’t alone in the universe (and that many of the other inhabitants of the universe are somewhat hostile), that there a creatures out there that have the ability to level entire city blocks with just a punch, and that there are “gods” who will stop at nothing to dominate and rule everything in their path. This show is about the regular, human people that protect the public on a daily basis from that vulnerability.
Now, could we get Nick Fury, Black Widow, or Hawkeye cameo? I’d say the answer is a definitive… “maybe”. I think I could picture ol’ Sam Jackson showing up in the season finale, or one of the last episodes, right around when Captain America 2 is scheduled to premier next April. Which actually brings me to another speculation: I think there’s a very strong chance that the last episodes of AoS will lead in, or connect in some way, to Cap 2. With all this “Shield has enemies” talk, I’d say it’s entirely possible. What we know about Cap 2 right now is that it features The Winter Soldier (WHICH MAKES ME SO F—ING EXCITED), plus we get to see Crossbones, Falcon, Sharon “Agent 13” Carter, and Batroc the Leaper (along with returning characters Fury and Widow), and that it’s supposed to be a “political thriller” style film that sees SHIELD come under fire from the inside, which would leave it vulnerable to outside forces. It seems like a great set up, but then again, this team, like I said, functions outside the traditional SHIELD protocol so maybe their adventures will be completely separate with only little connectors and Easter-eggs here and there.
Lastly, lets talk about what we want to see in the show. I’m totally on board with the “humans in a super-powered world” thing and I think there’s plenty of great characters in Marvel’s vault that could pop up on the show and fit in seamlessly. I’ve already addressed how AIM (and, frankly, even HYDRA because of Captain America: The First Avenger) could fit in, but there’s also SWORD (Sentient World Observation and Response Department) that could show up. SWORD pretty much just watches for an alien-threats that may appear, and with all the aliens being introduced to Earth throughout the Marvel films it makes sense that this agency could be introduced somewhere. Why not on AoS?
The main “character” I would love to see is the Taskmaster. This is a dude who is a master of weaponry and has the ability to learn and mimic the fighting style of anyone he’s up against. He’s even got ties to SHIELD so it’s not like it would be a real stretch to fit him in. He could be a great antagonist for the team, and there’s plenty of mystery around the character to carry out over a few episodes arc. Another character that I think would fit in well is Hank Pym. No, not “Ant-Man”; Just plain old Hank Pym: Scientist. Edgar Wright has already said that his Ant-Man film will not feature Hank as Ant-Man so I think this could be a great opportunity to for us to see one of the greatest scientific minds (from comic books at least) come to life in live action. And with all the high-tech gadgetry that SHIELD is known for, this as another character that would just fit right in like a puzzle piece because those gadgets could be the product of his creativity.
All-in-all, I dug Agents of Shield. I love Coulson; The show had that Joss Whedon-energy that I love; And, I thought the humor was well written and executed. Do I think the show is gonna last for 12 seasons and dominate in the ratings? No. But I also don’t think that’s the point. I honestly believe that they have a plan for this show to last 1 season or for however long people will watch. You have to understand that, with these mega-blockbuster Superhero movies for this show to tie to, you can end it at any point without it being awkward. Let’s say, hypothetically, the show is poorly received and it only gets the one season. Well, as I previously mentioned, that can take us all the way to the release of Captain America 2 and there are tons of plot connections you could throw out and tie up so that they lead into that movie. And then, it’s just done. But, if it does do well, then there are endless adventures to watch this team go on and a damn-near countless number of characters to mix in with those adventures.
For now, I’m sticking with the show, and not just because ABC is one of the only channels that comes in through the antennae in my bonus room, but because I like the idea of seeing how real people handle the burden of knowing that there are scary things out there they didn’t know about and that those things know they’re weaknesses. Agents of SHIELD is about the people who don’t allow themselves to be crippled by fear because they’re not gods, or super-soldiers, or clad in indestructible armor. They do their job, protecting the world, because they have real, human courage, which is something that can’t be built, or magically bestowed upon you, or synthesized into a serum.