Wed
Sep 25 2013 1:31pm

Heroes and Hotness: Thoughts on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD posterThe enjoyable-if-not-gripping series premiere of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD plays much like the first half hour of The Avengers did, kicking off with lots of setup—made more palatable by writer/director/producer Joss Whedon’s trademark witty dialogue—and team assembling. But while the hour-long pilot episode didn't blow me away the way The Avengers did last year (or okay, while no relationship grabbed me by the heart the way Black Widow/Hawkeye did), my past experience with Whedon projects is such that I have faith in the future of Agents of SHIELD and that the payoff will be well worth it.

Until then, here, have a list of my favorite parts of the episode (and please share yours with me):

— Phil Coulson: Agent Coulson's return from the dead was obviously a huge draw in the first episode. HOW is he back? Well, we didn't learn much except that Coulson believes he was merely resucitated by the medical team and then sent by Director Fury to Tahiti to recover. Maria Hill telling a team doctor that Coulson should “never know” what really happened was most intriguing, and will be fun to try to puzzle out this season.

— Melinda May: Pulled out from behind a desk by Coulson, “just the pilot” Agent May—who nevertheless shows off impressive combat skills—was a cool customer in the pilot, and I liked her. Sounds like she has some history with Coulson, too, if her immediate response to him (“No” and “I'm not going back in the field”) is any indication. Iiiiinteresting.

— FitzSimmons: I've revealed my not-so-secret-anymore habit of trying to predict my new 'ships, so you may already know that I'm hoping the Leo Fitz/Gemma Simmons relationship will play out a friends-to-lovers story on the show. The pilot didn't have time to flesh these two out as much as other characters, but we did get to see them finishing each other's sentences and calming each other down in times of stress, which was way cute. The question will be: Is their chemistry sibling-like, or are we going to be tortured for years by their UST (unresolved sexual tension)? I'm still undecided.

— Sky/Grant Ward: Sky was not my favorite character introduced in the pilot (Chloe Bennet's performance felt a little too rehearsed to me, and Sky herself hasn't yet caught my interest yet), but I did quite like the truth serum scene between her and Agent Grant Ward (who had a badass fight scene early in the episode). I saw some chemistry between them, and, well, it was funny!

—The tech: “The bus,” or SHIELD's jet and the team's new home base, reminds me a bit of Serenity, so that's awesome. And Extremis fascinated me in Iron Man 3, so I'm glad it's going to be addressed in SHIELD too. Coulson's car, Lola, though...that last scene of Coulson and Sky flying away in it was a bit too Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang for me, to be honest. Maybe it'll grow on me.

— Mike Peterson: The show's goal is to tell the stories of heroes who aren't necessarily super, but I hope Mike sticks around anyway. I liked seeing an ordinary guy struggle with new powers, and so much story and conflict could come from that. And what's with the “unregistered gifted” reference? Was that a throwaway line meant just to say that SHIELD didn't have him on their radar, or am I missing something and superheroes now need to be registered? (Didn't the heroes fight a civil war over that very thing in the comics?)

The Avengers references: Look, I get that the show wants/needs to distinguish itself from the movie 'verse, but I'm not gonna lie, I loved every single reference to the Avengers, from statements about Ward's marks in espionage approaching Natasha Romanoff's to shots of their action figures in a store window. I eagerly await more of these easter eggs for MCU fans.

— The dialogue: This IS a Joss Whedon show, so I came away with several favorite lines (probably unsurprisingly, two of them are about hot bodies—thanks, Joss!), such as:

Dalton: “I don't think Thor is technically a god.” 
Hill: “You haven't been near his arms.”

Sky: “Well, Just because you're reasonable and—firm...doesn't mean that you're not a...evil faceless government toolbag.“

Mike: ”I could, you know. Be a hero.“
Coulson: ”I'm counting on it.“

All of this is to say, I can already tell you I'm in this show for the long haul and have high hopes for it. Probably doesn't hurt that SHIELD's day-to-day showrunners, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen (Joss Whedon's brother and sister-in-law), wrote my all-time favorite episode of Dollhouse—Season 2's ”Belonging,” which was all about the secondary characters—and co-wrote Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. The show's off to a good start, and I think it'll only getter better from here.

ETA: Updated with links because that might be helpful.

 


Heather Waters is the site manager of H&H, and a 24/7 fangirl. Tweet her @redline_
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14 comments
Melissa Blue
1. Melissa Blue
I was telling someone the first episode was what I expected from a Whedon pilot. "I must give you backstory and world building first." I heart everything Whedon but it's his weakness. But the thing is he's gained my trust because he can tell one hell of a story once he hits his stride. Episode 2 or 3 is going to blow our wigs off. It's the Whedon way.
Elisa Nader
2. ElisaNader
I really enjoyed it. The dialog was really the best - so Whedon-y.

I agree that it had a little too much backstory/worldbuilding but you can tell it's going to get better and better. I'm just appreicateive that we get a weekly dose of Whedon's & Whedon's & Tancharoen's writing again. I've missed it!


Like you, I'm in it for the long haul.
Christopher Morgan
3. cmorgan
Haven't watched it yet, but sounds like Coulson could be a LMD (Life Model Decoy).

Also, I think Lola is a bit of fan service for Marvel folks. The flying car has been a thing in SHIELD for a bit. So I'm unsure how bit a role it will play in the long run.
Heather Waters (redline_)
4. redline_
@Melissa Blue -- You and I are on the exact same page. I had expected the pilot to be more of a warmup than anything, which it was. Dollhouse took a while to get really good (and I know the show wasn't hugely popular in general even in the Whedonverse, but I loved Season 2), but I was invested in the whole gang by the series finale. I told my friends I could see Agents of SHIELD getting really good by November sweeps; we'll see!

@ElisaNader -- Same here, I am thrilled to have the three of them putting on a weekly television show again. The format works really well for them, because they do like their backstory and that takes some setup time, but the characters and story lines are so much richer for it.

@cmorgan -- Ohhh, that makes sense. Yeah, the flying car didn't work for me and struck me as rather cheesy, but I can respect that it was a nod to the comics. Also, I'm with you on the LMD theory. Fans have speculated about that since before the show was even announced (that and that maybe he'd come back as Vision), so I wouldn't be surprised if Whedon & co. went that way with it.
Wendy Lewis
5. wsl0612
@cmorgan - I agree that I think Coulson is no longer human, but didn't know about the LMDs. Still I squeed, I just think he's so damned cute!

I Loved Ming-Na Wen's role, can't wait for more of her. Trying to decide whether I want a CoulMay ship or not, but you can't deny the name of it is the best :-)

Yes I thought Skye was a bit too annoyingly know-it-all, leave that for Coulson, he's the only know-it-all I need!

I don't think I want a FitzSimmons ship, that seems too predictable. Why do the "nerds" have to be hooked together?
Julia Broadbooks
6. juliabroadbooks
Yes to all of this! I liked the pilot but I loved the promise of what they are going to do with it in episodes to come.

I full on ship CoulMay but am not sure if I'll be rewarded. She's my favorite of the characters, after Mike. I hope he stays.

I love Fitz Simmons, but I don't know if I want to ship them. I agree that so far Sky is the weak link but I have hope her character will grow on me!

"You haven't been near his arms." Best line of the whole show.
Heather Waters (redline_)
7. redline_
@wsl0612 -- Fair enough about FitzSimmons! I think it'd be cool for them to be endgame, but certainly I'd want to see them branch out and interact/date others and not just be confined to the background hanging out with each other.

I saw someone on Tumblr say they now 'ship Coulson/Skye! I'll be fascinated to see what ships emerge as frontrunners as the show progresses. Sometimes it is the one you least expect. (Don't know that it'll be Coulson/Skye for me, though.)

@juliabroadbooks -- Well put; it's the potential I loved best as well.

I had to rewind the line about Thor's arms because I wasn't sure I heard Hill right. Too funny. She's definitely more straightlaced than Fury, but apparently she has more of a sense of humor than we saw in Avengers. Hope we get to see more of her in the show.
Evangeline Holland
8. EvangelineHolland
I was very underwhelmed by the pilot, and while I think it's mostly because I have no frame of reference (I've only watched Captain America--and that's because it was practically a period drama, LOL), I'm still disgruntled enough to believe that it should have been great for all viewers. The cast was very meh--everyone kind of looks alike--and I can't stand Skye. I too hope Mike Peterson sticks around, but that's only because J. August Richards is a Buffyverse alum. :D

Ultimately, this just made me want to pop my Buffy & Angel DVDs into my TV to remember how great Joss & Co can be. :/
Ellen Hutchings
10. shadowmaster13
I personally think that what we've seen a Fitz/Simmons ship would be super cute. They have the ship name Fitzsimmons in the show.

I like the line about Ward's firm-ness a little more than the one about Thor's arms. I think the problem with Skye is that she was a little too good. She hacked SHIELD from a van, for crissakes.
Melissa Blue
11. Mr. Green
It is a descent show so far. A ton of potential. After the 2nd show my two big things are:
1. Samuel J was in the show, even for a brief period that couldmean they may push the boundaries of movie vs tv cohabitating. This hasn't been tried (or successfully accomplished) since Star Trek.
2. Good old Coulson: He keeps the quips coming. And I am not sure if he is completely oblivious to whatever happened to him, just yet. He seems as if he is holding back the info.
3. Definitely sure Coulson knows they have a traitor and it is all apart of his plan.
Melissa Blue
12. Mr. Green
Also on coulson as the vision:

Clark Gregg:
“People were really convinced — and some remain convinced — that at some point we’ll see Phil Coulson back as the Vision — the kind of artificial intelligent superhero from The Avengers.”
So is Coulson the Vision? Was it a life model decoy? Is he a clone? An alien? A twin brother? What could it be?
Gregg said, “I have a feeling that Joss and these writers will find something that no one has even considered yet. ”
Heather Waters (redline_)
13. redline_
@Mr. Green -- My guess is currently Life Model Decoy (which would be a lot like Paul in the end of Dollhouse, wouldn't it?), but I've seen a lot of people speculating about him being the Vision too. I wouldn't mind Joss doing something I haven't considered at all.

And I agree, I love the idea of the show and movie characters popping in and out of both the movies and the show. I was late to the X-Files party, but I love how they worked in the first movie between seasons of the show and had them exist in the same timeline and not be completely separate from each other.
Julia Broadbooks
14. juliabroadbooks
@Mr.Green - If the end of Ep2 is part of a plan Coulson has had, that will go a long way toward mollifiying me.
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