Last night, ABC aired the first episode of the much awaited Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I have to say, it was amazing. The show, which is an immediate follow-up to the hit summer blockbuster, The Avengers, brings back Agent Phil Coulson and a young supporting cast. That Joss Whedon. He loves killing off characters and magically bringing them back.
What’s interesting is that even though the story of how Coulson is still alive sounds plausible, right away, we find out that it may not be as simple as the way Coulson tells it. If you haven’t seen the pilot episode, go on the ABC website and stream it right now and you’ll see what I mean.
The story starts off with a huge bang, literally. A huge explosion occurs at the top of the building, setting it afire. You are shown one every-man with superhuman strength jump into the building, save a woman, and then run off in anonymity. Unfortunately, someone found him, and from there, you are introduced to the main characters of the show slowly and methodically as Coulson gathers a team to save the man. You have Agent Coulsen and Maria Hill, the two veterans from The Avengers (I’m glad they were able to get Cobie Smulders in for a few cameos (I hope she has a consistent recurring role) and with How I Met Your Mother coming to an end, she just may be (fingers crossed). Then we meet Agent Grant Ward, the black ops agent who handles the combat. Think of him as the muscle of the group. Next you meet Skye, the girl hacker who is, of course, a genius when it comes to hacking computer systems as long as she has access to WiFi. Next you meet Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons, the two lovable nerds who are also experts in engineering and biology (human or otherwise), respectively. Finally, there’s Agent Melinda May, the attractive and extremely mysterious woman that Agent Coulsen respects and fears.
Everything in the story ties into the Marvel Universe in one way or another, but it also stands on its own relatively well. All of the Marvel movies that have come out have all been, for the most part, about heroes and villains with special abilities or powers that make them superhuman. Not in this case. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. follows humans who are at the peak of their abilities, whether it’s intellectually or physically, without the aid of superpowers. Technology, I guess, could count as a superpower, like in Iron Man. In this case, though, the technology that SHIELD used so far doesn’t give anyone superhuman powers… yet.
What better way to write the episode than by tackling the issue of what it takes to be a hero, especially in a world where not having superpowers puts you at a huge disadvantage. It’s a very interesting and refreshing premise that hasn’t been addressed before. Most other superhero shows and movies typically fall into the same storyline where they focus on how those with superpowers, mutants or otherwise, are typically the good guys who have to fight against their evil mutant brethren or the normies who believe that all mutants are a threat to humanity. It’s been done to death. Agents of Shield is different. Different is good. And there are definitely a lot of fun moments as well as action packed moments. My favorite part was where Coulsen comes out of the dark corner in the room to finally reveal himself for the first time, both to the main character, Grant, and to the audience. Does cheesiness like that count as breaking the fourth wall?
While I can’t say that this is the best pilot I’ve seen, since I pretty much have a good idea about the world they live in, Joss Whedon added plenty of mystery to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s current situation and wrote in a colorful cast of characters that I’m pretty sure I will come to love. Joss is really good at that. Just ask the fans of Firefly. Actually, don’t. It might be a touchy subject for many of them. I definitely can’t wait to see where he will take this in the weeks to come.