In 2008, Marvel Studios released the first Iron Man movie and thus created the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Iron Man was followed by, to date, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Thor: The Dark World.
Marvel had done on the screen what it had done in the comics for decades, create a universe where each property is connected, where characters can show up in each other’s stories.
After the massive success of the superhero team-up flick, The Avengers, ABC greenlit production of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The series followed Agent Phil Coulson, who appeared in several films from Iron Man to The Avengers, and his team as they travel the globe tackling missions.
The series started with a bang. Geek god Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and director of The Avengers, wrote and directed the pilot. The pilot centered around a young computer hacker joining the team and their subsequent takedown of a man affected by the Extremis project introduced in Iron Man 3.
Since then, the series has dropped viewers weekly and in my opinion has become stale, but not tasteless. In the MCU, The Avengers and Iron Man 3 are A+ students. Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America are B+. Agents is the first foray of the Universe onto the small screen and it’s a solid C+ and dropping.
Although, I like the premise of the show, at this point, I believe a second season may happen, but I doubt a third. The following is my ideas on what could launch Agents into the A+ territory with it’s big brothers.
In comic and geek circles, Joss Whedon is a god. His mind has made pop culture phenoms such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. He also is responsible for short-lived, but excellent series such as Firefly and Dollhouse. When Joss Whedon was chosen to direct The Avengers, the interwebz went wild due to his love of comics, ability to create engaging characters, and witty dialogue. If anyone could handle the Avengers, Joss could and over $1 Billion in ticket sales proved it.
In regards to Agents, the first episode was the strongest and carried Joss’s DNA. A team of people were introduced, each with their quirks, and the plot of a new superhuman was handled excellently. However, without his touch the episodes have grown boring and the characters flat.
Joss Whedon needs to return to the series as Creative Consultant or writer. What made his previous shows so beloved was his team building dynamic. Presently, the team is unlikable and if Thanos came to kill them off, I wouldn’t care…but that sure would make the show better. Joss has the magic touch to craft a team that we like and want to see every week. We need him to take what’s being shown and give them personalities and more importantly…likability. At this point Agent Coulson and Agent May are the only ones with a hint of charisma. Not good for a show about Coulson and his team.
The pilot episode included Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill. The second episode had Samuel L. Jackson guest star as Nick Fury. Since then, there were references to the MCU, but nothing substantial. On the November 19th episode, the show will deal with the fallout of Thor: The Dark World. That’s a good way to go, but that should be the norm.
Agents is part of the MCU, but acts like a watered-down Mission: Impossible with comic references. This show is in the great position to lead up to each upcoming movie. For example, the next MCU movie is Captain America: The Winter Soldier which will be released in April 2014. That is the perfect amount of time for this show to deal with the creation of The Winter Soldier and set up plot elements for the movie. Their missions would lead up to events in Winter Soldier and we could still have the inter-team dynamic and relationships.
If the show worked in this manner, then fans of the movie would make sure to watch the show in order to know what’s going to happen in the movies and it will benefit the movie by not having too much exposition because all that information was given in Agents. Once Captain was released, they could do episodes dealing with fallout of Winter Soldier and then next season could focus on the fallout of Guardians of the Galaxy, the next MCU movie which releases in August 2014.
The creators of Agents wants it to be part of the MCU, but not have The Avengers guest star. This show would greatly benefit from having Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemmsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johannson, Jeremy Renner, or Chris Evans guest star. By having one of the Avengers show up regularly, people will watch to see who shows up and in what capacity. Disney, owner of Marvel and ABC, has the means to pay the actors to come and shoot an episode or two.
Also, the show could be a launchpad for lesser known superheroes and villains. While studios may not want to risk a movie on a lesser known Marvel property, Agents is the best place to introduce them and to test if they could handle a feature film.
I like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I want it to succeed, but at this point it has a lot of work to do to catch up to it’s silver screen big brothers, but if it does, it will be a force to be reckoned with on TV.