Yes, it’s old news, but the promise that launched the hashtag heard ‘round the world last fall has finally come to fruition. Having conquered the box office with its ongoing and highly lucrative series of films (maybe you’ve seen one or two), the Marvel Cinematic Universe has finally made its way to the small screen, and leading the charge is everyone’s favorite stone-faced agent, Phil Coulson. Freshly resurrected and just as lovable as the day he introduced himself to Pepper Potts, Coulson is ready to join the ranks of Mulder & Scully, Dunham & Bishop, and Lattimer & Bering as he investigates the strange, unexplained, and just plain weird. However, while the Avengers are off shooting their sequels, a new team has stepped up comprised of the most delightful stereotypes you could ask for. Joining Coulson are the veteran who swore she’d never return to field work, the bickering pair of scientists, the hardened yet reluctant recruit, and the outsider who has no connection to the agency whatsoever yet manages to have just the right amount of spunk to be brought onboard. These are Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Fitting perfectly into the on-screen universe created for the likes of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, AoS brings the perspective down to the level below the heroes but above the public, illustrating that the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistics Division is more than just a guy with an eye patch telling folks in suits and spandex what to do. These are the folks who clean up the messes or do the leg work to prevent the messes from happening in the first place.
Clark Gregg steps right back into Coulson’s shoes, not missing a beat after the character’s last appearance in 2012. His dry wit, made famous by such lines as “Put the woman on the phone or I will blow up the block before you can make the lobby” and “So that’s what it does” is still intact, especially in the hands of Joss Whedon once again. Phil Coulson is the link to what has come before, but the audience gets a little crossover bonus with a special appearance by Maria Hill, reprised by Cobie Smulders.
The series looks to have some legs as the pilot episode sets up a looming threat personified by some unscrupulous scientists. A show like this will also doubtlessly make use of the “freak-of-the-week” formula as the aforementioned baddies dabble in such Marvel-ous plot devices as gamma radiation, super soldier serums, and Extremis, all of which received a shout-out in the pilot. The team Coulson has assembled (!) also has some great potential for future episodes, planting the seeds of a shady past with Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), potential super science gone awry with Fitz & Simmons (Iain De Caestecker & Elizabeth Henstridge), and rough n’ tumble action with Grant Ward (Brett Dalton).
Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The biggest mystery to surround this new series has, of course, been the question of Coulson’s resurrection after his death at the hands of Loki in The Avengers. Coulson himself explains it away as a faked death, but the truth appears to elude even him as Hill and Dr. Streiten (played by Firefly alum Ron Glass) hint at a much darker truth that even Coulson must never learn. Because that ALWAYS works out great for everyone.
If you’re a Marvel fan, chances are you’ll enjoy AoS. If you’re a Joss Whedon fan, you’ll definitely enjoy AoS. But, even if you are neither, the series is entertaining, humorous, and fantastic enough to grab the attention of the even the casual TV viewer. I know I’m looking forward to next episode and beyond, and I can’t wait to see what elements of the Marvel Universe make their way into the show.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8pm on ABC.
Personal note: It’s really nice to the see the Mutant Enemy logo at the end of some credits again. (Grrr. Argh.)