Saturday, September 28, 2013

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has landed

Now I know I've still to address GTA V (barely stopped playing it), I've got about three more parts of Doctor Who at 50 half ready, but this week something happened that I thought I should cover first. Agents of SHIELD started.

I've been waiting for ages for this one. Whedon returns to television and regular instalments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes please. Spoilers AHOY!

It really is Whedon-tastic. The dialogue is exactly how you expect, and the characters fit his usual ensemble mold, while still being entirely unique to the show. It's quite a motley crew, but I feel that's the idea that Coulson (and by extension the writers) were going for.

That said, this first episode is pretty light on characterisation, but it lays a lot of levels for the show moving forward. Ward, the quintessential spy who looks like he'd be perfectly in his place in a Bourne movie, perhaps gets the most development, outside of the obvious. It's also nice to see a secret agent who has social problems. He excels at the physical side of the job but the minute he has to interact with people he falls apart.

Skye, the hacker, seems like a classic Whedon character, the fangirl writ large. The civilian who accidentally falls into the machinations of what's going on, and ends up joining the team after proving herself. I almost want to complain about how easily she switches from anti-Government to trusting SHIELD, but Coulson's approach to her is brilliant and more than makes it work. Unfortunately, it's also pretty clear they're setting up Skye and Ward to be 'the couple' and I'm not sure I can be bothered with that.

The rest get a lot less screen time but there's certainly a lot going on. Fitz and Simmons have a secret, they have to. They operate a bit too as one mind for my liking. Agent May has some serious back story for Ward to both be impressed by, and her to not want to go near the field. Though I question how readily she did step into it.

Of course most importantly is Coulson. When he met the sharp end of Loki's staff back in Avengers fan theories immediately started popping up about how this new fan favourite didn't bite the big one. The announcement of his role in Agents of SHIELD made it even worse. Was his death faked to fool the Avengers and forge them into a team? Was it an LMD (realistic robot copy)? The theories ran up and down the history of Marvel to come up with something feasible. Agents seems to take the most obvious, it was faked (sort of) and then immediately rips that away from you.

Maria Hill's appearance was nice too, partly because the movie footage was kept to a minimum so her appearance helped anchor back to the big franchise. Not to mention more Cobie Smulders is never a bad thing. How long till she starts appearing a lot more once How I Met Your Mother wraps?

Then there's the villain. I like the fact that the pilot doesn't really have one, which fits with the more espionage angle it's going for. This is the team stumbling onto a bigger conspiracy, this is just one aspect that accidentally went public. The Centipede was interesting, and its ties to the films was good, if a little too much. It had super soldier serum derivative, alien tech, gamma radiation AND Extremis? That sounds a little too much. Just teaming two of those up would be enough. I mean what moron combines Extremis and the shit the birthed the Hulk? Two of the most unstable processes we've seen in the films. That said, J. August Richards descent was perfect. Hulk instability combined with everything else. Nice work.

Of course there is the Doctor which seems a weird unresolved plot considering Michael lived, and so could be debriefed. Obviously the bigger question is who was funding that research, and I'm guessing it's not going to be too long until we get one of Marvel's many secret organisations turn up. My bet is A.I.M. as they're the most straight forward, and the one with the biggest science leaning. It'd be cool if we saw some big moves by them in the films, but more backdoor work in the show, though that might get into dangerous territory of making them a little too self reliant on each other.

Still, a great first episode, and a lot of fun. Overall a good show, not quite amazing, though plenty of room to grow. So far it's not really leaning on its big screen cousins, which is good. While this clearly follows what happened in New York in The Avengers, Agents of SHIELD needs to stand on its own. So far it's looking like it will manage that very well.
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