Marvel’s ‘Agents of SHIELD’ Series Premiere Review

Published 11 months ago by

agents shield tv show joss whedon Marvels Agents of SHIELD Series Premiere Review

Marketing was an after-thought when Marvel made the simple announcement that the studio’s Avengers universe would be coming to television in the form of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. under writer/director Joss Whedon’s guidance. With a billion-dollar team-up in the bag and a host of ‘Phase Two’ films in production, the TV series would turn its gaze upon the men and women of S.H.I.E.L.D. with newly-resurrected Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) in the leading role.

Creating an ABC series based on Marvel’s movie universe was never going to be flawless, even with creators Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen at the helm, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. certainly looks to be heading somewhere worthwhile.

It was no surprise when a TV series became part of Whedon’s appointment as head of the Marvel movie universe, trading cancelled shows like Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse for a heavily-marketed tie-in to The Avengers fiction. But for fans hoping to see some of Whedon’s risk-taking, or the darker themes set to appear in Marvel’s ‘Phase Two’ films, neither will be found here.

Agents of SHIELD Premiere Date Marvels Agents of SHIELD Series Premiere Review

What audiences will get is a look at S.H.I.E.L.D. in the wake of the Battle of New York, working to track down unidentified superhumans, and cleaning up the fallout from the feature films. A still very-much-alive Agent Coulson joins forces with Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) to welcome the chip-on-his-shoulder Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) onto the agency’s upper echelon. Rounding out the team is Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) along with tech experts Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jenna Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) known collectively as ‘Fitzsimmons.’

The team’s investigations bring them face to face with a world now aware of their existence, embodied in the internet sleuth/blogger/activist Skye (Chloe Bennet). Fighting to prove that human beings can still matter in a world populated with god-like heroes and super-soldiers, the team work to keep super-humans on the side of good – or stop before they can do any harm. At least, that’s the pitch; the first episode has enough on its plate without having to show how an alien invasion would actually affect people, avoiding the issue for now.

Although the show’s filming style is almost indiscernible from any of ABC’s higher-budget programming, and many of the characters fall cleanly into generic stereotypes to begin with, the actors bring enough to their roles to get by. There are some exceptions that might pull fans out of the story – Cobie Smulders seems more at home as Nick Fury’s second-in-command than an administrator – but with the plot driving events for the most part, more development is needed to see how the pieces fit together.

Agents of SHIELD Coulson Ward Marvels Agents of SHIELD Series Premiere Review

In hindsight, bringing viewers into the inner working of S.H.I.E.L.D. through the eyes of a new recruit could have allowed Coulson to retain his usual position in the story, but with Ward far too generic a caricature to pull off that responsibility (thus far), no character truly sets themselves apart as the ‘lead.’ Fan sentiment would imply Coulson will step up, but it seems the cast will be righting themselves on one massive see-saw in the show’s first episodes.

The core issue that diehard fans of Marvel’s Avengers universe will be unable to overlook is the fact that, to this point, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been depicted as the most secretive, most elite (and potentially morally ambiguous) government organization around. As Coulson explains in the first episode, even the Avengers aren’t granted access to ‘Level 7′ information; a clever means of removing them from the show, but implying that the no-nonsense team will be dealing with threats too explosive for outside assistance.

Yet in the first episode, that isn’t what audiences get. Instead of stone-faced, elite secret agents whom viewers would trust to do the Avengers’ legwork, the cast is filled with quirky, quippy, and shockingly youthful agents. The cast still proves their value in their respective fields – with Ming Na and Brett Dalton’s characters promising seriousness in future proceedings – but the overall tone (and the show’s closing moments in particular) oscillates as much as any Marvel film so far.

Agents of SHIELD Fitzsimmons Marvels Agents of SHIELD Series Premiere Review

It’s not hard to understand that decision, since the chuckle-per-scene humor and levity is a clear move to target Disney and Marvel’s family audience. The downside is that the lighter tone makes the brief instances of violence – one of which comes early in the episode – may be jarring to younger viewers, with widespread humor diminishing the singular humor that made Agent Coulson a hit in the first place.

As we’ve reiterated, the first episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had more foundation to lay than most feature films, so it’s not surprising that the overall product is somewhat uneven. Still, Joss Whedon’s talent for constructing ensemble casts out of distinct personalities is here in full force, promising a worthwhile story in each character’s future. At the end of the day, there’s enough comic book mythology to pique Marvel fans’ curiosity; enough of Coulson’s humor to keep his (and Firefly) fans happy; enough scientific quirk and minutia to give elements of Dollhouse a second life, and an overall Disney feeling that will send the show to the top of any family’s weekly viewing.

Tell us what you think of the pilot, which parts seemed most promising, and what direction you hope to see the series head in the comments.

For an in-depth discussion of the show by the Screen Rant editors check out our Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode of the SR Underground podcast and read our list of 10 theories on how Agent Coulson lives..

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Catch Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. every Tuesday @8pm on ABC.

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  1. I didn’t dislike it, but I was disappointed. Can’t really think of any individual complaints. I just couldn’t shake the continuous thought of “Why does this show need to exist?”

  2. I stopped about half way through. It just felt like there was a real lack of energy which is usually the opposite in a pilot. I’m gonna go back though and re watch the whole thing later and give the show a chance.

  3. This show is terrible, I’m about 30 minutes into it and the show is horrible, they are trying too hard to include terrible humor into a show with a great premise. This causing the show to seem like it should be airing on Disney Channel instead of a major channel like ABC.

    • Bad humor often gets in the way of good stories.

  4. I thought it was pretty bad. My main dislike is the cast. I couldn’t stand the “Skye” character and apart from Coulson and Melinda, the remaining characters are so boringly generic.

    And I know Marvel movies are more lighthearted and have healthy doses of humor but this show took it to extreme levels of corniness and SHIELD became a joke. I couldn’t take any of it seriously.

    Unfortunately, I’ll be passing on this one. :neutral:

    • +1, except the passing part. I’ll give next week a chance.

  5. Haven’t watched yet but I think Shield should have had mostly ethnic minorities as agents just to balance out the “caucasian” cast that played the Avengers. Otherwise these guys are merely downplayed version of the Avengers and why should we care?

    • +1 Couldn’t agree more

    • Agree 100% — I count five Caucasians and one Asian. Smh at casting…

  6. It was ok. It will need to get more interesting to survive, so let’s just see where it goes.

    Heroes had a way stronger start than this, but look where that ended up, and they aren’t really the same genre anyway.

    B

    • Whedon’s shows have a tendency to get better over time. Heroes only got worse.

  7. Richards is Luke cage. he will be back.

  8. Hey did anyone else make the connection between Lola the corvette and the repulsor car that Howard stark was trying to perfect in the first captain America. Maybe this corvette was the first and only perfected Version. Another way to connect colson and the captain America super soldier serum. Let me know what you think

    • Connection between the cars? Yes. But I don’t think it is or should be the only one. In the comics SHIELD typically has a bunch of flying cars on hand for various things. But perhaps none of the others shall be quite as classy as Coulson’s.

    • I did make that connection. I had to explain to my family why I had gotten so excited to see it lol

  9. It was an okay start. Remember, Arrow had terrible writing in the beginning, but now it has gotten so much better. I have high hopes for this show!

  10. Trailers look great. I have not seen this yet, but will watch it on website when episodes become available, as often I will have to be at work when this is broadcast in it’s regular slot. Definitely looks like a winner that will go places, tho.

  11. Ok, what the hell, i can’t find it online anywhere yet people clearly watched it already?!

    • You are obviously looking in the wrong places, since it’s on every major torrent site.

      B

      • *looks at torrents already downloading in my pc* how could i forgot about torrents?! *faceweb* Thanks.

  12. Neat.

  13. I’m gonna give it a chance, but I give the pilot a C+… and I’m being generous.

  14. This thread proves a very valuable point: If the show were truly excellent like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, or Homeland then there would be almost no debate on whether it was good or not. This is a show that is not undeniably good but instead is suited to certain people’s tastes. I’m a HUGE MCU fan and everything wrong with this show is based solely on the fact I don’t like Buffy/Firefly/CSI or any cheap CW network type show. If I were partial to those type shows I’m pretty sure I’d like this show. As it is, this was boring and all the vanilla too-young cast wasn’t what I look for in a tv show or a Marvel property.

    • I like Joss but yes this was really boring watered down and the cast sux. Highly elite shield tech and some 20 something hacker cracks into theyre network from her van? Really Joss is this 1995???

      • Young prodigy hackers still exist today, you know.

  15. C Grade. The Good- The special effects, they are definitely pumping a lot of money into this show and it looks good. The Bad- Very generic stereotypical characters and cheese dialog. The Ugly- Shields technology gets beat by a girl who lives in a van? Really? It’s trying to hard to be cool and hip. If it doesn’t pick up I would not be shocked to see it have a short run. Lets see what happens next week hopefully it will get better or agent Coulson will have to go back to the future in Avengers 2 LOL… Anybody who has seen Back to the future had to get a kick out of that ending…

  16. Watching this on Friday here in the UK, hope it’s good, I’ve loved all of Joss’s TV shows so far (Firefly fav) so have high hope for this.

    Must say slightly concerned about the TONE though, Joss always has had humour in his shows, the show’s have always had an edge and when necessary have descended into the black depths.

    Hopefully Disney will allow this to adopt the same tone once it finds it’s feet but it depends on who Disney is targeting.

    What’s the air time in the US, we’ve got it at 8pm on Channel 4 (terrestrial channel with a history of “risker” programming) so that’s later than we show Doctor Who which is known for having a darker tone to unnerve the kiddies. They maybe be hiding but they’re still watching.

  17. the pilot had its flaws but it was not boring and i really hope it gets better with time; the best thing i find about this show is that it’s new material, parallel to the avengers universe, and from another perspective; i think people are being unfairly hard on the “boring” and “cheesy” comments, it was not boring, and marvel always adds that cheesiness to their movies to appeal to more audiences,in my opinion it WAS entertaining and the flaws are forgivable and I think this show will survive and convince those who saw this first episode with their heads up their asses ;)

  18. It was Ok kind of boring. They better add major action or heros if it wants to survive. Kind of hated that it added extremis to the show. Because it never was explained in IM3. It just reminded me of that disappointment of a movie.

    • It was never explained? You must have dozed or something. Did you want a detailed scientific lecture on how the virus works? It’s not hard sci-fi, it’s comic book movie/TV, for crying out loud!

  19. the show was just ok. would’ve been great had they had a more diverse line up, not just racially but in age. this youth obsessed zeal has forced bland actors into the show. skye was infuriating to me.

    at some point introduce something beyond quirk, zany, or snarky. the avengers can’t clear level 7, but chatterbox skye can hack shield from her van? and her gen x attitude display at being apprehended and detained by a black ops outfit was a bit much. the folks marvel wants this show to relate to, the viewers, would be sweating oceans holed up in some CIA black site in some off the radar third world country. but instead of spunky or ” acting as the audiences surrogate “, skye came off as a head in the clouds know it all.

  20. Never got the hype for Coulson, still don’t.

  21. I watched the premiere and I actually really liked it with all the references to other Marvel movies. It’s too bad however that this show is about the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D rather than having a marvel TV show about an actual super hero. Hopefully with the success of Arrow and the impending success of this show, I hope that we can get a TV series of an actual marvel hero. I’m not picky as to who, just someone not too obscure.(Doctor Strange would be my top choice)

  22. Oh boy, they really are continuing with the Extemis storyline aren’t they? I guess my problem is that it reminds too much of of IM3 and the dissapointment of that film. We’ll see how this show’s storylines connect with Phase 2 or 3……..

    • It always was very obvious that we hadn’t seen the last of Extremis and that it would surface again at some point.

  23. I haven’t read any of the comments above so of this has been said already, I apologize. I thought the show was rather good for a first effort, it laid a lot of foundation and has a promising future. I’m a huge Arrow fan, and I remember that show getting off to a slow start last year and now it is one of the best on TV, IMO. I think the same will happen with SHEILD. I’m looking forward to more.

  24. The pilot was good, not great. It was good to see Coulson again, and the rest of the cast didn’t get on my nerves too much. There was some cheesy moments, but that’s to be expected from a Disney/ABC TV show. I think they laid down a pretty solid foundation and I look forward to the show getting better as the season progresses.

  25. I was hooked from the start. I hope Whedon has another hit on his hands. 10/10 for me.

  26. Not a bad pilot, but with all the talent involved, this show deserves to be more than another “case/monster of the week” show. Obviously they were just establishing characters, but I’m hoping for some more sophisticated writing down the line.

  27. I said it the day this show was first announced…Over saturated , diluted, and hella unneeded.

    • Then don’t watch it if you don’t need it. Others welcome it.

  28. I thought it was rather weak to be honest. I will continue watching but I expected more.

  29. It is hard to always tell how a show is going to develop based on one episode, but the whole concept of a show about S.H.I.E.L.D seems thin at best. Aside from Fury and a few notable agents over the years the whole organization was a background plot device.

    The characters are pretty paint-by-numbers at this point and since they do not have the advantage of being known characters they are going to have to give them more personality than what was shown in the pilot. Another issue with a show if this type is that without a strong antagonist the story may not ever rise above the Away Mission of the Week model.

    • Whedon’s shows always have a big baddie but it might just be a wee bit early to reveal him yet. Wait and see.

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