The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiere aired last night and the critical response so far has been somewhat mixed (read our review). Still, TV shows often start things off a bit rough before pulling it together down the line; indeed, it’s a rare thing when the pilot is one of the better episodes of the series.
Above, we have the promo for episode 2 – titled ‘0-8-4’ – which gives us our first glimpse of the mysterious red-masked organization known as the Rising Tide. Meanwhile, showrunners Jed Whedon (brother to Joss) and Maurissa Tancharoen (sister-in-law to Joss) talk about the series format, plot, villains, Agent Coulson’s secret, and not being able to use the word “mutant.”
Courtesy of THR, Whedon and Tancharoen talked about what we can expect from the series format in the coming season:
Whedon: This isn’t about the case of the week. It’s about our people being the case of the week and we’re going to take them on adventures and have cool gadgets. We’re going to have monsters of the week and challenges, but we think it’s about our people more than the case, solving the mystery and the clue.
Tancharoen: The cases will have a beginning, middle and end, but we are focused on the serialized nature of our characters and there will be mythology woven throughout the season with little bits and pieces.
Interestingly, one of the bigger complaints from viewers about the pilot was that the cast of characters was a bit “bland” and “unmemorable.” If you accept that to be true, Whedon indicating that the show will be about developing those characters might come as good news.
On when we’ll learn how Agent Coulson survived being impaled by a spear, the showrunners said:
Whedon: We’re going to try to tease [that mystery] out slowly enough to make it thrilling and not drive people crazy. A lot of shows will keep having a hatch within a hatch or keep asking questions without giving answers or payoffs. We’re definitely focused on paying off anything we bring up and making it as rewarding as possible.
Tancharoen: I like to look at Coulson’s journey to the answer as a sort of existential crisis with a Marvel twist.
Nice reference to Lost there with the “hatch” comment. Hearing that there won’t be some prolonged mystery as to why Coulson isn’t dead is supremely good news, in this writer’s opinion. At this point, it still sort of feels like a cop-out. Waiting any longer than a single season for the answers could become very trying indeed.
On the rules of producing a TV show set in Marvel’s shared live-action universe:
Tancharoen: We can’t ever say “mutant.”
Whedon: There’s a database that’s tailored to our show with the properties we can use as well as the properties that are owned by other studios and things that are flagged for major franchises. There are certain areas we can’t go because we don’t want to step on the toes of the movies. We’ve had free reign. There are certain rules in terms of the Marvel brand. Marvel is very focused on being grounded – and it is our world with the one twist that they’re superheroes. There’s no Metropolis, there’s no Gotham. It’s New York City and Chicago, and in the cinematic universe the process of powers is pretty young. They say it’s only been a couple years since Iron Man in terms of our timeline in the universe. So the idea in our world that powers exist is new to the population and SHIELD’s job description. It used to be keeping those things secret and that has now changed, so we’re dealing with some of that.
Regardless of what they said, it’s got to be tough working on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Not only do they have to stay out of the way of the Marvel movies, but they also have to stay out of the way of Sony and Fox who own the live-action rights to the Spider-Man characters and the X-Men/Fantastic Four characters. What comic book villains do you use when all the really, really good ones – Doctor Doom, Norman Osborn, Magneto, Galactus, Loki, and so on – are already taken?
Speaking of villains, the showrunners talked (very vaguely) about the kind of villains we might see in the upcoming episodes:
Tancharoen: Marvel is a very vast and diverse universe.
Whedon: There are gods and aliens. So we have a lot to play with. There’s a spy aspect of the show and SHIELD is some of the most sci-fi in the Marvel universe because it’s about gadgets. So we have a lot of different things to play with. It will be a mixture of both. We will be focusing on having every story having a beginning, middle and end, but some of it will be mythology and some of it will standalone. And our character runs will continue through all of that.
So, nothing definitive, but perhaps we’ll see some villainous gods and aliens (though aren’t those the same thing in the Marvel Movie Universe?). I wouldn’t count on seeing anyone less obscure than, say, Taskmaster, and even that might be pushing it.
And finally, on the possibility of seeing Samuel L. Jackson appear on the show sometime in the future – as the actor has indicated he would like to do – the showrunners said:
Tancharoen: If he wants to come and play with us he is more than welcome!
Whedon: I sent him my phone number (laughs).
Tancharoen: We’re open to those opportunities, but we just don’t want to set that precedent. We don’t want that to be an expectation that somebody is always going to show up. We want our show to exist on our own. But the opportunity for synergy is always welcome.
Whedon: We’re in contact with the features people, and we’re hoping to tie in with storylines since we have stuff in their films and play with the fallout of their films. But we are focused on establishing ourselves as our own franchise and getting people to fall in love with our characters instead of just wondering when Iron Man is going to fly in.
Then again, if Robert Downey Jr. made himself available, I can’t imagine they’d turn him down.
To read the full interview, GO HERE.
What do you think about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so far, Screen Ranters? Did you enjoy the first episode? Which villains do you want to see appear in the future? Drop us a line in the comments.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays @8pm on ABC.
Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.