Television Reviews

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Marvel Wins Again with Agents of Shield

Marvel Wins Again with <i>Agents of Shield</i>

In hindsight, there was almost no point in reviewing Marvel’s Agents of Shield. After several successful origin movies and the Hulk-smashing box office payday that was The Avengers, it’s pretty clear that Marvel + Joss Whedon = Major $$. This highly anticipated new series was probably the only fall pilot guaranteed of success, and nothing that’s happened since its premier indicates the show will be anything less than a hit. So, does this Sci-Fi drama have any flaws, or can ABC resume its victory lap? Let’s start at the beginning.

Agents of Shield takes place several months after the Battle of New York (see The Avengers). The world is now fully aware that super-beings exist, with many people taking advantage of this information in some form or another. This makes things difficult for the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement, and Logistics Division (aka Shield), so an elite new team is commissioned to seek out and contain strange, new phenomena. Led by Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg, The Avengers again), who is revealed to have survived New York, the team also includes black ops specialist Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), ace pilot Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), scientists Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons (Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge), and a civilian hacker named Skye (Chloe Bennet). Together, this gang of misfits is all that stands between the world and super-powered anarchy.           

In true Whedon fashion, this story is all about the “little guy” rising to the occasion. None of these agents have any powers beyond their own skills and intelligence, but while it might seem like a bad idea to have a superhero show with no superheroes, the premise works surprisingly well. Watching the characters function as ants in a world of giants is fun, despite Fitz & Simmons being hard to understand at times. Agents doesn’t hinge everything on its characters either, the dialogue is clever, the action is intense, there’s even a cameo with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. It all seems too good to be true, surely there must be something wrong with this show?

Well, yes, and it’s kind of strange.    

Before Marvel Studios, most films featuring a Marvel hero were produced by companies that had purchased the film rights for that particular character (I.E. Spider-Man, X-Men, that appalling Fantastic Four movie). As a result, a show like Agents of Shield is legally forbidden from even acknowledging the existence of these characters (This also explains why we get a new Wolverine movie every year, if a studio doesn’t use the character they lose the rights). Basically, fans won’t be seeing any arachnid-based heroes anytime soon, and terms like “mutant” and “Adamantium” are off-limits. It’s a bizarre complaint to be sure, but if you’re going to make a show that dives head first into the Marvel universe, it’s a little annoying to find huge chunks of said universe missing.

Regardless, Agents of Shield remains a great show for fans of comics, Whedon, or just Sci-Fi in general. It delivers much, and promises more is on the way. New critics could appear as the season goes on, but right now Agents is flying too high to be in any danger.

*This Review published 10/7/2013

**Watch Agents of Shield Tuesdays on ABC