“Pilot” Precap: Laura’s Thoughts

Here we finally are, the premiere day for “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (ugh so much punctuation). I’ve been waiting for this day for quite a long time now, getting especially more antsy for it ever since I missed getting to see the pilot at San Diego Comic-Con this year. It seemed like every single person I ran into the rest of that day had gotten to see it, and every single person described it as “absolutely incredible,” or “it was everything I’d hoped and dreamed it would be,” or “BEST PILOT EVER.”

Even then, I had some reservations. We nerds, or geeks, or whatever you chose to self-identify as, tend to be extremely passionate (or even defensive) about this things we like or love, sometimes to a fault. And Comic-Con adds to that sense of ownership and excitement, so while I trusted that they enjoyed the pilot, I couldn’t necessarily trust that it was as perfect as everyone was expressing. Fortunately, we’ll find out for ourselves tonight.

But I think I have different expectations for the show than a lot of my fellow nerds do. See, I only recently became a Marvel fan. As in after I saw the Avengers last year.

You see, Comic Book Movies and I have (in the past) had a difficult relationship. Sure, I really enjoyed Raimi’s “Spider-Man” in 2002, but thought “Spider-Man 2” was rather…pieced together with puzzle pieces that didn’t belong together? Sorry, awkward analogy, but it didn’t feel like a well put together movie to me. It was enough of a reaction that I didn’t even bother to see “Spider-Man 3.” Same with “Hulk.” I don’t remember exactly what I thought of the movie, but I didn’t love it enough to suddenly start seeking out more comic book movies.

Then I saw “Iron Man.” Everyone had loved it, everyone talked about how great Tony Stark was, everyone talked about how funny and just plain fun it was, and I finally said, “ok, I’ll watch it.” No one had warned me that the first 20 or so minutes of the movie were going to be SUPER DEPRESSINGLY DARK, and then suddenly it was going to flip flop and be the complete opposite. Yes, I know now that really, almost all comics have that sort of shift, but it was extremely jarring for someone who a) had little to no knowledge of Iron Man’s history, b) little to no knowledge of the general angst-y structure of comic book characters backstories to begin with, and c) came into the movie expecting it to be light-hearted, because literally everyone had said it was a funny movie. It threw me off enough that I had a hard time adjusting and focusing on the quality of the movie as a whole.

As someone who never really read comics growing up, these movies were my first introduction to comic book worlds, and so far, I hadn’t really connected with them. I stopped caring. What I really needed to see was a good movie that piqued my interest in seeing more, in wanting more.

As years passed, I became more comfortable in my nerdy interests and gained more nerdy friends who happened to be super interested and more knowledgeable in comics. So when “The Avengers” announcement first came out, I heard a lot about why that was a great thing, why the actors chosen were perfect, etc. I didn’t get too excited, because again, I had very little personal experience, but I decided to give it a chance, even though I’d really only seen “Iron Man” (which I had mixed feelings on) and “Thor” (which I did enjoy, but mostly watched because one of my closest friend adores Tom Hiddleston and DEMANDED I see it. He does do a phenomenable job).

So I found myself in a mostly empty theatre in late June of 2012, waiting to see the Avengers.

No, I still hadn’t seen “Iron Man 2,” or even “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

I decided to just risk it. After all, to be a great movie, it has to appeal to both the SUPER INTENSE fans and the general audience, right? Otherwise it didn’t do a good enough job telling the full story. Friends worried I’d be confused about the Tesseract, or how these people knew each other and how they came to S.H.I.E.L.D.

It was never a problem.

Long story short, I had zero problems with the movie. I love pretty much everything about it. I went home and started reading up on all these characters. I watched “Captain America” one night when I was bored and it was on Netflix. I adored it. I still haven’t watched any more of the Iron Man movies, because I’d like to rewatch the first before doing so. I’ve started reading the “Hawkeye” comics, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE, and am thinking of adding “Captain Marvel” to my pull list. Baby steps, people.

So sure, I’ve started educating myself about the Marvel universe as a whole. But going into “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” I feel blessed in a way, because I’m at that threshold of their target audience. Of course they want the major fans to tune in, but they also want people who know next to nothing to tune in. We all love cult hit TV shows, but shows on networks like ABC only survive when the mass audience, the people who only watch shows they don’t have to invest hours upon hours of extra time into, tunes in as well. Knowing this changes my expectations.

I’m hoping the cases S.H.I.E.L.D. handles week to week have a hint of the extraordinary, but still focus on the fact that everyday people can be heroes too. I’m hoping they focus on developing the characters, since the key to success for all TV and movies usually starts with the strength of the cast and the emotional connection between the audience and the characters. I’m desperately hoping that along the way, they’ll convince people like Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, etc., to come guest star, even if just for one episode. On a completely different, and random note, I’m thrilled the main cast has an equal number of men and women. THRILLED.

I feel like I’ve rambled and gotten away from the point a bit. So, THE POINT. I’m going into the premiere of S.H.I.E.L.D. tonight hoping for a good show, without too many expectations of how it deals with the already existing comic book history and cast of characters. I’m hoping it’ll introduce me to areas of the Marvel Universe that I’ve yet to explore. I’m hoping it’ll present strong characters that we can identify with – and that Agent Coulson continues to be the biggest badass and nerd that exists, because he is seriously the best.

Only a few more hours to go!

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