Written by Zac Platt.
With only a few precious moments left with Dexter and Breaking Bad, the new offerings of this year’s Fall line-up have some pretty big shoes to fill. A few new series such as Blacklist and Almost Human have me intrigued, but if any show is going to fill the hole in my heart it’s going to be Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC. Arguably the flagship series of 2013’s new releases, this ambitious series aims to expand Marvel’s Avengers franchise to the small screen. The show will follow a resurrected Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his newly assembled team as they try to keep S.H.I.E.L.D. one step ahead of the emerging superhuman population. As a huge superhero lover and a big fan of the world Marvel Studios have been building, this is likely the most excited I’ve been for a new show since Lost. But enough about me, let’s talk about why YOU need to check out the series premiere on September 24.
When Joss Whedon was first announced as Director for The Avengers it was a dream come true. Aside from how exciting it was for fans to imagine him getting to do his thing on such a giant stage, he was the perfect Director for such an ambitious project, which in all honesty could have been a complete mess. His unwavering focus on character and uniquely comedic tone in his show’s like Buffy, Dollhouse, and of course, the incredible Firefly have amassed a legion of fans. Add to his resume a proved understanding of superheroes and team dynamics from having written one of the greatest modern runs of comics in The Astonishing X-Men. Now, with the success of The Avengers, Whedon has been named “consigliere” of Marvel studio’s cinematic universe, set to direct the sequel (Age of Ultron), oversee the second phase of solo movies, and most importantly, return to television to launch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The pilot was directed and co-written (along with brother Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tanchareon) by Joss, though admittedly his day-to-day involvement with the show is a bit more ambiguous. Having him overlook the direction of the franchise and define the tone and concept with the pilot, it’s a safe bet the series will have that Whedon edge we have come to love.
2.Part Of A Shared Universe
While I have little doubt Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will stand tall independent of the Avengers franchise, there is something undeniably cool about all of these projects existing in the same world. There’s a reason Star Trek and Star Wars both have such devoted fan-bases poring over their expanded universes. One of my favourite things about reading comics is the world and interconnectivity companies like Marvel and DC have developed across their lines. While the movies have done a great job bringing certain characters and concepts to life, what I really want to see translated are the more grounded political and social impact superheroes have on the public. Stories from the comics such as the preacher in Oklahoma that struggles to keep his community’s faith in Christianity having now seen walking-talking Norse deities. Or the question of registration, and whether anyone with powers and a costume is entitled to the same privileges as the Avengers, or if one law-abiding citizen’s security outweighs another’s privacy. The world Marvel Studios has created is full of possibilities, and I can’t wait to see Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. get into the nitty-gritty of it.
3.Great Short-Term / Long-Term Concept
Episodic storytelling generally leans in one of two directions. On one side of the spectrum you have the more classical week by week tales where writers try to deliver the best stand-alone story they can. On the other you have your slow-burning shows like 24 or Game of Thrones that deliver epic season arcs, but have the individual episodes blend into each other. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a perfect concept to find that sweet spot between micro/macro storytelling, something Marvel have had plenty of practice in over their 70+ years of producing comics. The show’s mission statement allows for an infinite number of possible case of the week stories that are sure to be fun and full of personality. With its strong ties to the ongoing story of the cinematic universe and the ambitious studio and creators, you can also rest assured it will have a vision that will unfold over time. Agents will also avoid the issue of a clear end game that shows like Homeland or Dexter have hanging over them, forcing them to dangle the stories they want to tell just out of reach for fear of concluding the story too soon. Agents is a concept with the freedom to unfold naturally, however long that takes.
4. The Whole ‘House Of Ideas’ Of Possibility
The source material provides an absurd amount of stories and characters to mine from. First and foremost is the roster of great superheroes that are perhaps a little too risky or obscure for the studio to give their own movie. On television they have the freedom to experiment, and if they connect with the audience, give the hero a greater role in the cinematic universe. How great would it be for the cast to get caught up in a Kung Fu adventure with Iron Fist one week, then an X-Files-esque monster story with Man-Thing the next? And that’s just scratching the surface, there are so many avenues to explore in other genres. We could have sci-fi stories focusing on the races and characters of the space-operatic cosmic line, or delve into the history many of these characters share with the Second World War. Lastly, and this is admittedly a little less likely, Agents could be used to introduce characters to the universe that Marvel sold the cinematic rights to. While we probably won’t be seeing Spider-Man or Wolverine popping up, there are plenty of characters like villainous Norman Osborne, AKA The Green Goblin, that grew from their original comics to becoming major forces within the Marvel Universe.
Look, superheroes are awesome. They may be exaggerated, goofy, and a little bit childish in conception, but there’s no denying the public’s affection towards these masked men and women. With Phil Coulson’s hero worship displayed in The Avengers and characters like Skye (Chloe Bennet), who is described as being obsessed with superheroes, that love of the genre is promised to be explored on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Remember that first season of Heroes? How exciting it was to discover these different people with powers and the way they all connected? Multiply that by the tone of Marvel’s movies and add that Joss Whedon charm, and you can see just how fun this show could be. So why is fun such an important quality? Think about all the big shows everyone is talking about right now. Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Homeland, Breaking Bad; I wouldn’t trade them for the world, but they all share a tone and intensity that really weighs on you week after week. It’s been way too long since we’ve had a big AAA series that aims to promote a sense of wonder and make you smile, rather than reducing you to an emotional wreck. We watch television as a form of escapism, it’ll be nice to escape to somewhere happy for a change.