Welcome to Level 7.
Well, the first episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is now in the books, and it made sure to start with a bang. Even though the majority of tonight’s episode has already been shown through various teasers and previews over these last few months, there’s still a lot that we hadn’t seen yet, and it all left me wanting more.
As S.H.I.E.L.D. opens, we find ourselves in a post-Battle of New York world. Superheroes are idolized and an accepted part of “the new world,” as Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) puts it. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is back, and good as new after faking his death and taking a few months in Tahiti, but it seems there’s a bit more to Coulson’s “death” than even he has the privilege of knowing.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP
We’re all familiar with the enigmatic Agent Coulson, so he needs no introduction, but there are five other members that are joining him as part of his special (not really a) team. Early on, we are introduced to the badass Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), who seems to be maybe a little too badass for the good of his character. I was afraid they would go too far with the brooding, tough-guy-who-doesn’t-play-by-the-rules shtick that really seemed to float around him early on, but luckily, they seemed to fade that out in favor of making him a much more relatable and complex character by the end of the episode. Also, his back and forth with Coulson really seemed to be a highlight for the both of them.
The other main recruit, who isn’t officially on board quite yet, is Skye (Chloe Bennet), the computer hacker who thinks that S.H.I.E.L.D. is the bad guys, but is obsessed with the heroes that they work with. For me, her part feels a bit cliché; she’s smarter than all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s resources, even though she’s got bottom-shelf gear, so of course, Coulson offers her a spot on his team. We aren’t sure if she’ll accept (Spoiler Alert: Of course she will), but we know that if she does, she will realize S.H.I.E.L.D. are the good guys. I really felt like the way they went about introducing her character was sort of cheesy, not to mention predictable, but she’s also responsible for this little dig at DC’s television series, Arrow, “’Hooded Hero?’ Please say you aren’t staying with that name,” so I do have a bit of hope for her character yet. As much as I love Arrow, I couldn’t help but laugh and shake my head in agreement.
Rounding out the crew is the veteran agent, Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), who, although is an apparent ass-kicker and legend among S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, didn’t get a whole lot of development so far, as she spent the majority of the episode in the background with the odd pair of agents Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). It definitely feels like there’s more to these three characters though, as is heavily hinted at in tonight’s show, but it looks like they’re going to wait to dive into their characters until the coming episodes.
The show seems to be doing a fascinating job of linking the series up with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, without shoving it down our throats. It felt authentic, to the point where you actually had to keep your ears open to hear them talk about something from the movies, and even then it was only in passing that they would mention them. One of my favorite examples of this in particular was Agent Ward referencing, “Cosplay girls hanging around Stark Tower,” which served as not only one of those references, but also poking at the current cosplay craze. The way they expanded on the Extremis storyline of Iron Man 3, while also mentioning that part of this drug was derived from the Super Soldier Project was brilliant, instantly tying two movies into its plot. Seeing that some of the major story lines from the films could be expanded on has really piqued my interest, and I can’t wait to see what else is thrown into the mix.
I will admit; as excited as I was for this show, I had this nagging suspicion that it wouldn’t be able to work without the superheroes that made The Avengers so great. Here is a team that, while not “super,” is nearly identical to The Avengers in the way that they couldn’t be more different from one another, but together, each piece fits together perfectly; maybe even better than their super counterparts, in fact. Needless to say, those worries I had have been quelled.