A few weeks ago, ABC debuted the new Avengers spin-off TV show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which focuses on a new set of characters, minus agent Phil Coulson, and takes place in the Marvel cinematic universe. The show has been hyped up for a couple years now, but does it live up to the hype?
Before the show premiered, I thought about what the show would look like. I mean, we all knew it was going to be about a bunch of guys and gals running around in suits and skin-tight leather, but would it offer the same cinematic quality? Based solely on the premiere, I would say, no. The look of that first show kind of took me out of it with how “TV-like” it looked. One shouldn’t expect Avengers-quality lighting and direction, but the pilot looked like an under-budget, Syfy, made-for-TV movie to me. It all struck me as odd, since the guy who wrote and directed The Avengers wrote and directed S.H.I.E.L.D. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed last week’s episode (the second episode) more. The look was the same, but the direction was much better in my opinion.
When asked about the idea of having main actors from the movie franchise appearing on the show, creator and director, Joss Whedon, said that he wanted the show to stand on its own, and be judged by the quality of its characters - not because everybody, and I’m paraphrasing here, “wanted to see Iron Man this week.” I can understand that. And I’ll admit that I like the characters in S.H.I.E.L.D. (even though they follow the typical Joss Whedon characterizations which have followed him around his entire career and through every show he creates), but the lack of at least one Avengers actor in the pilot kind of brought it down a notch for me. I don’t think that’s because of the new cast being uninteresting or unable to stand on their own; it’s because I found it hard to connect the dots between the pilot and the movies. It just didn’t “feel” the same. Having one of the Avengers introduce me to these new folks would have made the transition a bit easier and seamless for me.
“But the Avengers have a presence in the show, idiot! They talk about them all the time!”
Sure, there are tee-tiny clips of the Avengers in the opening of the episode, but none of them are featured. And it seems that the show, even in its second episode, knows that it’s hard to connect the two worlds by the way it constantly beats references to them over your head all the time. (“See how I just talked about Thor’s hammer? Yeah, this is an Avengers show! You like how I briefly mentioned Black Widow? See? Avengers show!”) The way that we are constantly reminded by the characters that the show is related to the events post-Avengers seems really forced, when all we would really need is for Cap to show up and say, “Hey, ‘err body!” I understand this is easier said than done, given the schedules of those actors and the money it would take to get them there, but a visual connection is always more powerful than an auditory one.
“What about Coulson then, you moron?!”
Coulson is a beloved character in the film franchise, there’s no doubt about that. I like Coulson, but in all honesty, he’s just a stereotypical “FBI-type” in a suit who supposedly died in The Avengers. For most people, THE guys in THE suits would probably make for a more lasting impression. Let’s not forget about that, by the way. Personally, I find the plot point of the mystery behind his return interesting - I just wonder if it confuses people. Maybe not, but whenever he showed up in the pilot, I just remember thinking, “Are people going to get this?” The way they hint at it on the show is kind of cryptic, so I was worried it might be confusing for some.
My concerns with the above mentioned aspect of the show was partly alleviated when, at the very tail end of the second episode, **SPOILERS** Nick Fury shows up. I still would have preferred it to be one of the Avengers themselves, but Nick Fury will do for now – though I wish he had been in the first episode to help people who have the same concerns and are a lot less patient.
And THAT’S my main concern with the show. Right now, I’m enjoying it. I’ll probably enjoy it for however long it runs, but what about other people? I don’t want it to get cancelled, but if I’m having these concerns, a dedicated fan of the Marvel cinematic universe, I can only imagine what all the other less-patient people are saying about it. If these concerns grow, viewers will be lost, the ratings will go down and S.H.I.E.L.D will soon get canned. My advice to anyone who’s having the same issues about the series and is considering giving up on it: Give it some time. We’re only two episodes in at this point (3, in a few days) and hopefully these concerns will fade soon.