KATIE WRITES: Welcome to Marvel Celebration Day! We’ve got a bunch of cool posts for you, starting out with this one, and finally wrapping up with some preliminary ravings of Avengers: Age of Ultron! If you went to see the film last night and would like to send us some thoughts to be included in tonight’s post, please feel free to do so!
As anyone who knows me knows, I don’t like Agents of SHIELD. Blasphemy, I know, but I don’t. It’s not that I actively dislike it, I just think it’s rubbish television, and I’m very disappointed in Joss Whedon. The writing is a mess. The acting is reasonably good, but the characters are…a mess. However, I can’t say this in public without being subjected to stoning at the hands of public opinion. People I know and respect who are usually intelligent, with good taste, are horrified that I’m not a fan. When I asked them what they like about the show, however, I tend to get a lot of flailing, emoting, and TumblrSpeak.
Elizabeth Kirwood (or Liz, as I call her,) is one of my dearest friends. She also one of my most intelligent friends. She’s also one of the biggest fans of AoS that I know. So I told her to tell me why she loves the show so much when, quite frankly, the writing is rubbish. I know most of you don’t need to be convinced of this, so you can just enjoy the ride, and use the comments to add your own reasons why it’s so awesome. I’ll break out my vibranium body armour and take it like an Asgardian, I promise.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD seems to be, for the most part, one of the shows that people like either immediately, or about halfway through the first season. I loved the show right off, since I’m a sucker for pretty much anything that has to do with spies, but I understand some of the problems people have with it. The writing is good, but not consistently spectacular for the most part. And I’m not sure where the lighting department went off to about three quarters of the way through the first season. However, I do still watch the show, and I do love it. Here are some of the reasons why.
He’s engineering, she’s biochem. He’s Scottish, she’s British. They always have tea with them. It’s almost kill-me-cute, but they aren’t allowed to simply work in the lab out of harm’s way. Watching them develop through the show’s run is
so sad amazing because of how the characters grow. There is science babbling and bickering, yes, but their loyalty to the team is fascinating. Plus they name a tranquillizer gun “the night-night gun.”
Agent Phil Coulson, played to perfection by Clark Gregg, became a universal name to the MCU followers after he died in The Avengers – and the entire fandom rejected his death. So when it was announced that he was heading up a team in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, there was much rejoicing! The fandom won! After all, who doesn’t want more Coulson sass?
Of course, when we the fandom got what we wanted, we got it at the hands of a Whedon. <enter horror scream>. And once you get into about episode 6-10, you will suddenly have emotional attachments to the show. And the characters. In particular, Coulson is fascinating because he goes the extra mile to give everyone a chance. In one scenario, a minor character is about to die and there’s nothing to be done. Coulson sits with him, risking death (again), up until the very end so that he doesn’t have to die alone.
3. It’s about ordinary people in the superhero world
If you’ve been following Superhero Week here on Vaguely Circular, then you know what superheroes are. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is interesting in that it explores the intersection between the regular populace and the events caused by/involving superheroes. Many of the main characters on the show are ordinary humans, coming from multiple perspectives, who try to bridge the gap and protect the world from the craziness and wreckage of all these occurrences. The main characters go through health checks. They get injured. And yes, the show is full of fabulous stunts, but it still presents very human reactions to the unnatural events that occur.
SHIELD, as determined for sure after the events of Captain America: Winter Soldier, has questionable policies. Sometimes those policies are enforced with a well-meaning spirit in the show, and sometimes not. Coulson’s small team has the freedom to bend SHIELD’s rules, and the results of those choices carry through the events of the show. Every episode gives pieces of a puzzle that fit together, and the ethical questions that the show raises are a part of that puzzle. Anything from second chances to the treatment of potential superheroes to team loyalties are explored, and the unique position of Coulson’s team makes that possible.
5. Family Bonding
The first season of the show starts with six main characters: Coulson, Melinda May, Grant Ward, Skye, and FitzSimmons. Without fail, the dynamics are always hilarious: if you’ve seen any references to Coulson being the dad of the team, it’s because it’s true. Puns abound. Family game nights are mandatory. No pets are allowed on The Bus.
As the season develops, you have episodes that delve further into each of the characters’ personalities, plus additional incoming characters. Sass and sadness abound, along with happy moments where everyone is laughing and smiling. As you get to know the characters, you can guess exactly how they will react if such and such a thing were going to happen. For example:
I rest my case.
6. Humanized Female Characters
The ladies of SHIELD are pretty much always capable of beating people up. I don’t know how they get this training, or where, but it’s awesome. Agents of SHIELD certainly has this part down: the fight scenes, if sometimes badly lit, are impressive. As far as female characterization, the stereotypes seem pretty well-set: Melinda May has no emotions but can break your spine with a flick of her wrist, Jemma Simmons is smart and has no field capability, and Skye wears her heart on her sleeve and hates training.
And then the show slowly dismantles all of those stereotypes. Melinda May used to be very much like Skye, Simmons takes on the responsibilities of a field agent to try to fix her team, and Skye steps up to both wield her empathy and stop people who would do wrong.
7. Links to the rest of the MCU
Marvel has the advantages of 3 main streams of canon amidst thousands of comic books to source material from. Agents of SHIELD is all original characters, with the exception of Coulson, but it links to all the major cinematic releases in the MCU. The same phenomena that made the plot of Thor: The Dark World possible cause trouble for the team, Captain America: The Winter Soldier completely changed the show, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron is said to tie into the final episodes of Season 2. Guest stars appear fairly frequently on the show, which is cool, but the extensive networking between Marvel’s films and Agents of SHIELD is what really sells it.
BONUS: Peggy Carter cameos
Since the fabulous Peggy Carter founded the original SHIELD, it makes sense to have flashbacks that tie in to the objects the team unearths. Seeing her yet again on my TV screen just makes Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD even better. Here’s hoping for more of her in seasons yet to come.
About the Author
As an absentminded tea-drinker who isn’t entirely sane, Liz Kirkwood has a dual obsession with writing and talking about brilliant writing. When not dredging her fingers in authorly ink, you might find her on a film set, doodling sketches in her collegiate notes, or talking about scientific poetry. You can read more of her ramblings on her blog.