Mixed Batch of “Agents”
Hot off of its billion dollar worldwide success with “The Avengers,” Marvel Studios was bound to jump the gun with taking their universe to a new level, outside of film. When it was announced that they were producing a show centered on the people who work for S.H.I.E.L.D., which would exist in the same timeline of its cinematic universe, the creative possibilities reached sky-high levels.
Furthermore, what better way to top the concept than with the God of the Geeks, Joss Whedon, developing both the series concept and pilot, in addition to bringing back fan-favorite Agent Phil Coulson from the dead (or was he never actually killed?). Put those two together, along with an ensemble of fresh face actors as the team, and you have “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Set after the events in “The Avengers,” S.H.I.E.L.D. continues with their task of investigating strange cases of emerging super-humans who have the intents of taking advantage of their powers. Handling these cases is a newly assembled (no pun intended) unit of agents, led by veteran Phil Coulson. Rounding out the rest of the team is pilot/weapons expert Melinda May, black ops specialist Grant Ward, computer hacker Skye, and scientists Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons (Fitzsimmons).
Unlike most new shows that premiere in the fall, I managed to see the pilot while attending Comic Con earlier this year. The premiere episode finds a solid balance between action, humor and subtle references to Marvel’s Phase 1 films, all of which a creative mastermind like Joss Whedon knows all too well. Though it will most likely be the only episode he’ll be involved with for a while, Whedon establishes the show’s premise and characters with a very solid ease.
The second episode titled “0-8-4” remains entertaining for the most part, but suffers a misstep from being lazy in terms of its story. Though the final two acts were a bit clumsy, there was a hugely entertaining cameo at the very end by a character loved by many Marvel fans.
In a satisfying resurge, the third episode, “The Asset,” finds a stride similar to the pilot where the Marvel universe is tied back into the story, making for a more engaging package of entertainment. Furthermore, the final scene of the episode hints at a villain that has not yet been used in other Marvel Studio properties.
Out of the firm cast ensemble, Clark Gregg is expectedly terrific playing Phil Coulson. Whether playing the quirky or courageous side of the character, Gregg always manages to be charismatic in the most unique ways. The rest of the cast is also settled to a good degree in their respective roles, especially Ming Na Wen as Agent Melinda May.
Though the show has built up a decent start, there is one big problem that I hope gets cleared up at some point during its season run — there needs to be a future episode that will feature more than just a procedural case for the team. That’s not to say I’m not a fan of the storytelling format, but as a fan of Joss’ shows, I am already aware that they usually find a stride in balancing procedural and serialized storytelling by the end of the first season. However being that Joss isn’t the showrunner, which is instead occupied by his brother Jed and Maurissa Tancharoen, there is a lingering fear I have that the format might not change any time soon in the show’s first season run.
Additionally, I do hope that they at some point offer some exposition of how Coulson lived after his fight with Loki in “The Avengers.” Then again, Coulson is enough of a fan favorite character that I can let that slip for a little while longer.
Overall, Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is a favorable attempt for Marvel in transitioning part of their cinematic universe to the small screen. Though the storytelling is a little too procedural for its own good, it still serves as a fine filler to distract us from the long waiting gaps in between each forthcoming Marvel movie.
ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: You can appreciate the characters and action over the inconsistent procedural storytelling.