When Marvel launched its “Cinematic Universe”, it was an ambitious project. They wanted a cohesive universe, one where separate projects took place in the same universe and would eventually relate to each other. This has been done before of course. The Jetsons and The Flintstones occupied the same universe, albeit many years apart. Star Trek had many TV series in which they were all related. Doctor Who did as well, with two spinoffs all intersecting with each other.
Marvel was the first significant franchise to do it in movies. They launched four separate super hero franchises and then brought them all together, the likes of which have not been seen on this grand of a scale. But Marvel wasn’t done. They wanted a bigger universe, a bigger piece of the pie (a common trait from Disney, who now owns the Marvel Universe).
Enter: Agents of Shield. Sorry, Marvel’s Agents of Shield. (Remind me to call this ‘Marvel Presents: Iceman’s Introductory Blog Post’ or I might get sued). Usually the trend is opposite. Star Trek started as a TV show, then went to movies, and eventually back to TV. Star Wars….started in movies and went to TV but that doesn’t count, because the tv show was a cartoon, and the canon of it is questioned. Sex and The City, X-Files, Firefly, The Simpsons, and many more, were all TV shows turned into movies.
That jump is easy. You have an established fan base over many years who will throw money at you to see their favorite characters on the big screen. The opposite is more risky. Seven movies which made several million at the box office; but Marvel saw the potential in TV. They will make significantly less money but they needed it to be successful. It was absolutely essential to be successful. Marvel knows the recipe to success in their Cinematic Universe in any circumstance. The ingredients? Joss Whedon and Clark Gregg.
Now, after I found out Clark Gregg was front and center – I was skeptical. One of the best and most heart breaking scenes in The Avengers is Agent Coulson’s death. It was the driving force to the events of the whole second half of the film. So was Agents of SHIELD (Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD…This is like ‘Harriet Jones, Former Prime Minister’ all over again…) a prequel? I don’t have good relationships with prequels. Fuck you, Jar Jar Binks. Was it a retcon? I didn’t know. But then I found out another piece of information that made everything ok. JOSS WHEDON was showrunner, and directing the pilot which, later I found out, takes place in present time. Whedon’s involvement was the one and only thing that made Agent Coulson’s return acceptable.
The Disney/Marvel executives said there was never going to be a SHIELD show without Clark Gregg. So did they know before Avengers happened? Or did they just say that to cover their ass? One could certainly make an argument that it was always the plan. The film didn’t show the medics taking Coulson away, Whedon made it a point to have the scene in the movie where Agent Hill interrogates Nick Fury about him lying to the Avengers about the vintage cards, since they were in his locker, and not on Coulson’s person, like Fury told him (Fury likes to lie…..Spoiler for Captain America 2….) There was always ambiguity, if you watch the aftermath carefully.
I don’t know how Coulson is alive, but I have my ideas….that’s a different post for a different time. What I do know is that Joss Whedon knows what he is doing. He proved that in The Avengers. This is the first (But probably not the last, there are already whisperings and rumors of an ‘Agent Carter’ TV series, although that would be the first linearly but not in our time line even though you could watch it first; wibbly wobbly, timey wimey…) television series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If they hope to have the success they had, there has to be connective tissue to the rest of the MCU, like the other films have had. Coulson fulfills that.
But there needs to be more. No, I don’t think Robert Downey Jr should guest star in the finale. That would take me right out of it. Why not call Stark every time Coulson had a problem then? Or the SHIELD friendly Steve Rogers? But I do think some things would work. Like frequent name dropping of Director Fury. Show Coulson on the phone with him. Show emails from him. Mention orders from him, etc. The other thing that would work is Cobie Smulders’ Agent Hill. But she can’t be a regular on a SHIELD TV show until her other show is finished, and for that to happen they need to meet the goddamn mother first. I mean, who tells a story that takes place for 9 years about how your dad met your mother, when he doesn’t even meet your mother until year 9?! But I guess it works because Neil Patrick Harris is awesome. I can’t argue with that logic. Anyway, back to Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. (Ha! I remembered the ‘M’ word this time!)
The show has potential and this is the first thing that isn’t Doctor Who related that I’ve written this much about, so obviously I am excited. But nervous at the same time, although some of the anxiety is gone thanks to the GLORY that is Joss Whedon. What Marvel did and is doing, is remarkable. They’ve had a few stumbles along the way (recasts like Don Cheadle and Zachary Levi, but I personally think they are upgrades even though no one like recasts) but nothing detrimental. This is the biggest risk they’ve taken yet, but if it pays off, then Marvel is on their way to dominating the two biggest mediums in entertainment, and I am willing to take that risk and go on that journey with them. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is happening, so let’s embrace it, and have faith in Marvel, and more important the legendary storytelling skills of Mr. Joss Whedon.
If you read that whole thing, then you probably know this, but just in case: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD premieres SEPTEMBER 24th at 8/7c on ABC.
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