let’s watch tv– marvel’s agents of s.h.i.e.l.d

The world of comics fans is divided on the matter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the overarching alternate history that encompasses the Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor movie franchises (so far).  Some people consider the movies an insult to canon and everything it stands for, while others take a more relaxed position and say that canon is already fragmented into so many alternate histories already that one more can’t possibly hurt anything. Then there are the people who are fans of the movies and don’t read the comics or care about the original material at all. Any way you look at it, the Marvel movies are elaborately interconnected enough to constitute a canon (sub- or otherwise) all their own.

And now that canon has expanded to include a television show, and opinions are divided on that, too. You’ll find mine here under the cut.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: I like it. It’s corny, shiny, tacky, and maybe a little silly, hardly the same sometimes touching, sometimes grandiose, always noisy and thrilling, bigger than life experience you get with one of the movies. But I like it.

On the smaller screen, with a vastly smaller budget, the TV series follows the canonical SHIELD spy/security agency and features no costumed superheroes (so far), but the episodes have a glossy surface and an authentic, cheesy/noble four color quality that makes the series seem much more like a mid-list Silver Age Marvel comic than anything I’ve ever seen in another medium. The writing only adds to the effect: tongue firmly in cheek and bashing away at the third wall with the same reckless charm of many of the same comics. Plots are much less important than character interactions and worldbuilding, which is also period-correct. The series is not without flaws, particularly in the casting, which suffers badly from the current grand Hollywood flaw of making everyone pretty-pretty to the point where all the characters look like siblings who have had lots of plastic surgery. A couple of characters have interesting faces (see below); the show would be infinitely better if they all did.

But let’s not miss the point here. What A SHIELD series in the Cinematic Universe needs most is Agent Phil Coulson, the deadpan, balding, middle aged badass with the wry wit who is the discerning fan’s favorite character in so many of the movies. Spoiler: Coulson is not dead (well, probably not dead) and Clark Gregg is playing him with his usual aplomb for a whole hour every Tuesday night and you should be watching him do it. Just watching Phil describe one of Assistant Director Hill’s notes as looking like “a little poop with knives sticking out of it” with a straight face is worth both the cost of the show and the time you spend watching it. There are other things to like, particularly Ming-Na Wen’s performance as the very cool new character, Agent Melinda May, and the technological dynamic duo of the Bus and Lola. But mostly, Cinematic Universe fans like Phil, and we are glad he has his own show.

This entry was posted in comics and cartooning and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to let’s watch tv– marvel’s agents of s.h.i.e.l.d

  1. Rick Santman says:

    I like it. Quite a bit, warts and all.

    It has a certain bouncy energy, that properly harnessed could lead to some damned fine television.
    You’re correct that they picked a bunch of pretties when average looks would serve them better, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement amongst the rollicking adventure, especially as Whedon tends to kill ’em off here and there.

    Big thumbs up for all the comic references, and I LOOOOVE Lola the car. STRAIGHT out of the comics.

    And didja hear Coulson mention, at least once in each of the first two episodes, how Tahiti was “magical”?

    Chat on a couple boards I inhabit are leaning toward Coulson being a Life Model Decoy, another interesting trope from the Sixties Strange Tales comics, but the whole magic thing leads me to wonder if a certain Sorcerer Supreme hasn’t made his presence known.

    It’d be good to see Doc Strange and his posse make a cameo….

    Looking forward to tonight’s episode, rumor has it their first Super Baddie makes his appearance.

  2. Pam Bliss says:

    I want to go on record as so wanting Rick’s theory to be right. He knows I have a soft spot for Dr. Strange and all those trippy 60s magic comics. And that was the same era as the original SHIELD stories, and it all just makes so much sense. Bring on the man with the long orange gloves, that’s what I say. And if you can get him into a battle of the well trimmed goatees with the Cinematic Universe Tony Stark, I will be in fangirl heaven.

    However, the rational part of me thinks the “it’s a magical place” line actually supports the LMD (or clone, or whatever) theory– I think it’s a trigger imbedded hypnotically that activates a whole set of false memories that are suppressing Phil’s awareness of what actually happened to him. And if that’s true, it ain’t going to last long. There isn’t any mental suppression anywhere, psionic, hypnotic, magical, or whatever, that can stand up for long against Phil Coulson’s mental and emotional badassery. Phil, FTW.

  3. Layla Lawlor says:

    We definitely like it enough to keep watching ’round these parts, although I wish the supporting cast was less glossy and Hollywoodesque, and more interesting. But it’s fun enough to hold my attention for now!

    • Pam Bliss says:

      I agree on good enough for now. The appearance of the supporting cast is my main beef– I even think the character concepts are looking fairly interesting. But those pretty pretty Hollywood faces both bore me and offend me. Why does everyone have to look alike?

  4. Rick Santman says:

    Sadly, Agent Coulson stripping his weapon and fumbling it, along with all the talk of “muscle memory” leads me to disbelieve the Doc Strange hypothesis and go with clone…..sigh…

  5. Pam Bliss says:

    I agree– it looks like clone or some kind of full rebuild. An LMD or cyborg body would be better coordinated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s