**I’ll be honest, I planned on writing a lot more on the Marvel Cinematic Universe this past week. In a perfect world I would have written about the Marvel One-Shots, TV Shows and Movies on a daily basis, all leading up to Avengers: Age of Ultron. But, as it is, there was a little too much going on this past week. I started my thoughts on Marvel Television, what follows is the segment that assesses Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. It stands as its own piece of writing and will serve as my thoughts/review of Season 1 of the show**
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (SHIELD) was born out of the simple idea, “what if there was a TV show set inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe?” Maybe we could follow some of the smaller heroes on a week to week basis? Maybe Black Widow or Hawkeye could have a show? We found out it was a show dealing with the inner workings of SHIELD. That sounded promising enough, unfortunately the first season was a disappointment for most fans.
It’s strange, the show wanted to be two things but ultimately failed at both. First, it wanted to be a show fully set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) featuring crossovers and references to the greater world. Second, it needed to be its own show with its own set of characters to carry it. With regards to those two aspects I would say it failed at first and has been growing ever since.
It failed at its MCU connections in that the references ended up just pandering to the audience for the most part. “Do you remember what happened in New York?” “Stark proved technology can do this.” “What are you, an alien, like Thor?” While none of these are direct quotes from the show these are the types of things that are said ALL the time during episodes of SHIELD. It feels as though the TV side of Marvel Studios is the little brother to the film production arm. They are allowed to make references to the Avengers, have a guest character (Agent Hill, Agent Sitwell, Lady Sif) or two, but they’re not allowed to move the universe forward at all.
This is a show that lives and breathes in the MCU week in and week out. It should be a delight for Marvel fans to jump in and see the story develop. Unfortunately, it feels as though the show isn’t allowed to move the universe forward, only the bigger brother can do that. What this means is that SHIELD boiled down to a villain-of-the-week story, only when a Marvel film came out did some real stakes get added to the show. The events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier affected SHIELD in a great way and it’s pretty well agreed that the show got better in its second half as it dealt with those events.
For the most part, the show’s Marvel-ness is on the side: mainly just references to a greater world and a few story lines that react to the movies. Since the show isn’t starring Bruce Banner and Nick Fury every week, we are left with the titular agents that make up the organization. This is the other aspect the show failed on, giving us compelling characters and a real story.
Honestly, the characters are fine. There are the brainy/funny ones. There is the tough guy. There is the woman with a mysterious past. There is the rebellious newcomer. Then there is Agent Coulson. Each of the character types have been seen before so there is really nothing special going on. As mentioned before, the majority of the season ended up being a new bad guy every week and was very run of the mill.
So the show wasn’t moving the entire Marvel Universe forward, nor was it telling a compelling story of its own. Is it any wonder that most (myself included) lost interest with the show a few episodes in. Even when the show was made available on Netflix I could not muster up the enthusiasm to watch the first half of that season. I had seen the first five episodes, heard the show got better so I just jumped in at episode 14 to finish out the Hyrda story line
I will say this, the show has gotten better. Since its individual characters aren’t the best, the show is strongest when it deals with bigger Marvel stuff. The last half of Season 1 dealt with Hydra, there were some reals stakes and it felt like the show mattered. The second season has really picked up and has full-on introduced Inhumans to the world. This is interesting and this is making me stick around.
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