Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Movie quality action on the small screen

One of the most anticipated new shows of the Fall season is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Carrying on the traditions of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. provides the character development and long-term plot lines of a traditional hour-long television drama with the pulse-pounding excitement you usually only see on the big screen.  In short, it’s awesome.

Joss Whedon, who directed and wrote the screenplay for the hit movie The Avengers, carries the concept to the small screen as Executive Producer for the series (as well as co-writer and director for the first episode).  The Whedon touch, with his characteristic snappy banter and character dynamics, are as evident here as they were in his comic book works such as The Astonishing X-Men, and his other television forays such as Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Firefly.  Although Whedon may be the driving force behind the show, it certainly has developed it’s own following around Agent Colson.

Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson
Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson

Played by actor Clark Gregg who has portrayed Colson as early as 2008 in the hit movie Iron Man, Colson has become almost synonymous with S.H.I.E.L.D.  Gregg’s cool, charismatic portrayal of the character makes you instantly relate to him – an everyman thrust into extraordinary circumstances.  But what intrigues people the most are the circumstances surrounding his supposed death in the Avengers movie.  Hard to understand how someone with a spear thrust into his back would survive, yet survive and thrive Colson did.  A Twitter campaign was even launched with the hashtag #CoulsonLives.  That’s just one of the many mysteries surrounding the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  As the series progresses, we hope to find out how Agent Melinda May ended up behind a desk when she is obviously a kick-butt and take names later kind of spy.  We’ll find out more about “Skye” and who is behind this group known only as the Rising Tide.  And hopefully, we’ll even find out more about Coulson’s car – Lola.

Cobie Smulders returns as Agent Maria Hill
Cobie Smulders returns as Agent Maria Hill

Already two impressive guest stars have shown up in the first two episodes – Agent Maria Hill played by Cobie Smulders who reprises her role from the Avengers and Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. portrayed by none other than Samuel L. Jackson.  Like Gregg, Jackson has been the only one to play this role since his first appearance in Iron Man.  It’s unusual to have such crossover from film to TV, but what Marvel is doing is unlike any other venture in the history of film-making.  Other franchises such as Indiana Jones (Young Indiana Jones Adventures) and Star Wars (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) have sought to extend their movie history onto the small screen, but no one has actively integrated so many different franchises across different platforms like Marvel has as part of the canon of their universe.

Agents of SHIELD
Agents of SHIELD

It’s fun to watch a show that is mostly action-adventure but knows how to make fun of itself and not get too serious.  This is most evident in the witty dialogue in each script.  Perhaps because Whedon himself is a comic book fan, this show balances all the different elements of action with comedy and drama.  When Agent Ward tells Skye that there are two ways this can happen, and she says, “Is one of them the easy way?” he says, “No.”  Or when Agent Hill asks Ward what the initials of the organization mean to him and he says, “It means someone really wanted our initials to spell out SHIELD.” Or when Ward says, “I know Agent Coulson was killed in action before the battle of New York.  I read the reports.”  And Coulson walks in and says, “Welcome to level 7.”  And then adds, “Sorry, but that corner was really dark and I couldn’t resist.  I think a bulb is out.”  Funny, witty, but definitely fulfilling for the fanboy.

For long-time fans of Marvel, this show does not disappoint and instead brings credibility to a genre that is quickly losing it with mutants like Doop and the random reincarnation of virtually everyone in the comics universe.  Remember when the comic fan could say “Only Bucky stays dead?”  Even that isn’t true anymore.  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a credible foray into comic book action in live action.  No cheesy body paint, no ill-fitting costumes, no second-rate actors.  All high quality stuff here.  If you haven’t seen it yet, check in!  You’ll be glad you did.

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