First airing 27 September 2013 on the US network ABC, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was the first attempt to put the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the small screen with a spin off and 5 netflix series, it can be considered something of a successful attempt.
Agent Phil Coulson – Clark Gregg
Agent Melinda May – Ming Na Wen
Agent Grant Ward – Brett Dalton
Agent Leopold Fitz – Ian De Caestecker
Agent Gemma Simmons – Elizabeth Henstridge
‘Skye’ – Chloe Bennett
Raina – Ruth Negga
Victoria Hand – Saffron Burrows
John Garret – Bill Paxton
Ian Quinn – David Conrad
Mike Peterson – J August Richards
Agent Antoine ‘Trip’ Triplett – B J Britt
Agent Maria Hill – Colbie Smulders
Edison Po -Cullen Douglas
Overview: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a gamble, a weekly prime time series, set in the Marvel Universe, but without any of the recognisable characters that could be used in future films, or where there was rights issues. Straight away that takes the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Namor and a dozen other characters right off the table, add to that the ridiculous weekly schedule and a TV budget, it would be understandable if this was a brief failure. Right at the start, we are shown that the world has changed since the ‘incident’ when the Chitauri invaded a small part of Manhatten, the Avengers formed and the fantastic elements wherein were exposed to a terrified world.
Initial Status Quo: Our P.O.V. character is Skye, who lands on S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s radar after videoing a superhuman saving a woman from a fire. Quickly recruited for the response team is Grant Ward who is a very James Bond-esque agent. He is interviewed by Maria Hill to gauge his suitability to join a team led my an experienced agent named Coulson. Ward points out that he’s a level 6, so he knows Coulson was killed. Coulson walks in and announces that Ward is now a 7. He then recruits Melinda May from administration to act as pilot and takes Ward and May to the ‘Bus’ which is a converted Jet designated 616. Ward is met by newly field-rated scientist Fitz and Simmons, or Fitzsimmons for short. Investigating the superhuman, they encounter Skye, who helps out and is offered a consultant’s position on the Bus. For the first bunch of episodes, it’s very much like that, we get the team investigating weird cases, unexplained events and battle an organisation called Centipede who along with the ‘Clairvoyant’ are trying to develop super soldiers. In between we have the search for the truth of Skye’s past, the facts behind Coulson’s return and his time in Tahiti and all the time trying to train Skye as an agent. The concepts are fleshed out and the writing is decent enough and there is the sense of it all going somewhere as the Clairvoyant starts manipulating events. The synergy thing of it, is that during the season, Marvel released Thor: The Dark World and an episode fits in around that and then Captain America: Winter Solider happened.
The twist: Winter Soldier had the 3rd act twist that from the beginning, Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D and had been working in the background to make the world more dangerous, so to enable their takeover. The series then stops being what it was and becomes something else. Ward is revealed to be Hydra and thus becomes part of the antagonists for the rest of the season and S.H.I.E.L.D is now considered the same as Hydra, so the team are now outlaws. Now on the run, with minimal resources and betrayed at all sides, this rag tag team becomes not a team within S.H.I.E.L.D but the remainder of the organisation. It ends the season, showing that not all of the threats are dealt with and not all of the mysteries are solved. There are also guest stars, minor twists and turns and ultimately the series ends on a high with a final scene that leaves you wanting to know what happens next.
In closing: I liked this series better on the second watch, not having to wait week by week for each new episode and after a wobbly first half dozen episodes it found it’s footing early on and was consistently enjoyable. It’s not high art or award winning drama and to be honest it’s not really trying to do that, it’s an entertaining show set in the spaces around Marvel’s movies, but more and more are separate from them. The main cast do a great job with Ming Na Wen and Clark Gregg playing wonderfully off one another and the younger cast aren’t as annoying as they could have been. Over all this is a TV show that is worth giving a try for anyone who has a passing interest in the marvel movies and the comics they came from, it’s not the comics, nor the movies, but it’s not bad because of them.
Next Time: Rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D., rival organisations and terrigenesis.