4 Ways to Improve ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’

Published 2 years ago by , Updated September 25th, 2013 at 2:33 pm, This is a list post.

4 Ways to Improve Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of SHIELD Tv show improvements changesMarvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had a pretty strong premiere (in terms of ratings); however, a very vocal section of the Marvel Universe fan base have been very critical of Avengers director Joss Whedon's S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot - and based on polling in our own review, even those who enjoyed the premiere episode nonetheless believe there is room for some considerable improvement.Always the helpful bridge-builders, we thought we could identify four ways that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can improve itself in nice, succinct (and relatively quick) fashion.Read on and see if you agree with our picks - and feel free to make your own in the comment section below.

Kill Off the Weak Links

Agents of SHIELD Weak CharactersSo far, it seems that one of the criticisms about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is that the characters are too cliched and vanilla - in all meanings of the latter word. Not a problem: The great thing about teams is that there are a lot of bodies - and more than a few of them can be sacrificed. And we all know that Whedon loves to (sort of) kill characters off...TIP: Don't hold on to any weak links. If the fanbase isn't warming to a character within a few episodes - be it snarky blogger Skye (Chloe Bennet) or snarky agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) - then take him/her out of the equation for good.Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) seem to be fan-approved, so there's already a foundation there. And it's fortunate that Marvel went with relative unknowns for the younger cast: we won't feel much loss if (when?) they're gone.

Focus on the Coolest Characters

Melinda May in Agents of SHIELDMaking a TV pilot is like throwing sand into a colander and sifting it out until you discover a few gems buried within. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. threw a lot of things in that colander - and a lot of characters, to boot. Right now it looks like only one or two of them (maybe three) are going to shine, but that's okay: great TV shows have been made from less.Don't want to kill off or write off characters like Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) or Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge)? Fine. Have them take a cue from Q in James Bond and give them a little cameo scene every now and again to present new gadgets (and limited banter) to our agents. Meanwhile, Agent May is intriguing - let's spend more time focused on her!TIP: There is foreground and background to play with, so don't spread the show too thin. Focus on the top players and go deeper into their stories; create more restricted lanes for the other players (or just lose them entirely).  

Introduce Upgraded (and Diverse) Replacements

Agents of SHIELD Better CharactersLook, with every slide it is seeming more and more clear that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is in need of a re-tooled cast. It's not just the actors - or the characters, for that matter. It's actually a combination of both.From the early marketing it was clear there was a problem: Nothing about the S.H.I.E.L.D. team seemed that interesting. Or badass. Or believable. Or diverse. It was all Disney/ABC-brand family-friendly blandness. In a world where character-centric cable shows have seized the zeitgeist, bland and forgettable characters are a death-knell for a TV series.TIP: When you pull some weak links out, you better replace them with something that's actually better - something more interesting, badass, believable AND diverse. This is the Marvel Universe; plenty of great characters (superheroes or S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents) already exist in canon, and if you're going to create new ones, give us characters with more imagination behind them, instead of a cast assembled from a demographics analysis printout.

Get More Espionage-Serious

Agents of SHIELD tone Spy ShowRight now, people are saying that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. feels like Avengers  with weaker characters and much lower action potential. It's easy to see from the pilot how Marvel could've indeed been going for that Avengers tone and feel to the show - but perhaps that was a misstep. Maybe a change in approach to the material would fix many problems at once - the writing, characters and overall tone of the show being some of the big ones.TIP: This is an ultra-secret espionage organization; give us a show with more espionage edge to it, rather than trying to emulate the superhero high-fantasy adventure of Avengers - with non-super, non-fantastical characters. There is a way to make AoS a little more like Alias24, Strikeback or Homeland and still retain that coveted family-friendly brand. The show needs to sharpen its claws a bit. Better characters and storylines will flow from that.

There Is Hope...

Agents of SHIELD Tv show improvements changesBased on our Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiere review and podcast discussion of the show, it's safe to say that around the Screen Rant bullpen there is a feeling that there is potential in the show - potential we want to see realized into the best possible show Marvel can deliver to fans.Clearly a pilot is only a test run - which is why both fans and critics alike are eager to see what comes next in Marvel's big spinoff show. If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode 2 evidences clear smoothing of some of these rough edges, maybe we can tuck our list away... for now.__________Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays @8pm on ABC.Follow me @ppnkof
TAGS: agents of shield


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  1. Well its safe to say well done Joss, Jed, and wife. The pilot was stuffed to the brim with witty writing and line delivery, wise cracks and allusions to a whole array of Avengers characters, and was heavily loaded with a level of emotion and depth that seems to elude many, many pilot episodes. generally, I have to watch half a season before the show picks up, the writers, cast, and director really get into the swing of things and the show really takes off. This was completely different. this felt more like the first half of a movie than a pilot episode. and it looks like it will get even better from here. The end of the show really brought out (what I think) Joss Whedon’s idea to really display the OTHER SIDE you never see in the comics and the movies. You never see the fear, uncertainty, and awe that the normal everyday people feel. The incidents in New York have exposed that we are “not only alone, but hopelessly–hilariously– outgunned.” the truth IS out, superheroes, monsters, and aliens all exist. and I think Joss and Jed did an incredible job bringing out the very human emotional element of the lesser known– yet just as incredibly diverse and interesting– side of the superhero world that is the Agents of SHIELD. That being said, Skye was written almost too snyde, to the point of my being irritated with her character almost right off the bat. I would like to see some deeper espionage plots; the show can get stale if every episode is like the first, a happy ending. (not saying thats what it will be, Joss never ceases to surprise. Im just saying) Other than that, it was new and different and really well done.

    • Reilly,
      It’s Joss, Jed, and Muarissa <– don't just put her in the "wife category". She has her own career with or without Jed.


      That being said. Pilots are always tough to watch. I didn't love the Buffy pilot and was completely confused by Firefly, but I loved those shows. People just judge too harshly nowadays instead enjoying themselves.

  2. I try not to judge shows based on a pilot.
    My wife and I both liked it, and the characters. If I were to make a suggestion, it would be to get a known Avenger to appear sooner rather than later.
    I don’t believe we are the only ones watching this hoping to see some Avenger action.

  3. most of you are being ridiculous i watched the show yesterday and it was good and its still a pilot ok i had problem’s with skye too but don’t kill her of that easily i think her real name is not skye at all she had deleted her real identity and one idiot complained hacking in her minivan stark build a prototype ironman suit and a mini arc reactor in terrorist prison with scrap and ward ,fitz and simmons are not at all bad to.ward has family issues i like to see something interesting from that character arc too so overall show has a promising premise

  4. It was a pilot. And I can’t expect that they introduce six team members and an antagonist in the same episode in an hour, and make the best episode of the season. The show has lots of potential to introduce bigger elements and line up lots of small ones like they did with AIM in the first episode. I have a tremendous amount of faith in Disney. But to say that, I was not pleased with the Mandarin in Iron Man 3.<– My only complaint in every movie so far, and that was a Disney mistake. Incredible Hulk was one of my favorite shows. I am on the fence with the idea of Jarvis being Ultron. I don't mind a little bit of their ideas of interpretation on characters as long as they don't do it with every single one. I think they could introduce Hank Pym in the TV show, let his creation be the main antagonist in Avengers 2, and then they will have created a back story for Ant-Man's creator "Pym" without needing too introduce Pym and who ever they decide to use as Ant-Man. Of course I don't run any element of the franchise so I guess it will matter if I watch SHIELD live on ABC or catch it as reruns. Same way as the movies. I went to see the Avengers 4 times at the theater, and Iron-Man 3 3 times. If the movies don't play out like the fans like, we will only watch them once.

  5. “Get More Espionage-Serious”

    You mean like how Person Of Interest or Alias are/did. Show’s pilot was pretty funny and pretty corny…much like most Whedon’s show except for Dollhouse.

  6. Oops! I think Im the weirdo who actually liked Skye.
    I would go for more Ward, Skye and of course more miss Hill!

    • I loved Skye, she didn’t annoy me at all. One of my favorite scenes was when Coulson gave Ward the truth serum. Good times

    • I also liked Skye, thought she was funy so I don’t know. I liked the whole episode, the allusions and witticisms.

      • Skye and the truth serum scene were the worst part for me. I think her character can be saved but please no more stupid scenes like that.

  7. I love how so many use the “Its only the first episode” excuse.

    Bust out your DVD’s and go watch the first episode of your favorite shows. Good shows start out good, bad shows start out bad. Do not expect much after that pilot unless you happened to like it. If you did, I envy you, I wish had lower standards for entertainment.

    • Uh… actually quite a few series I think are really good had poor pilot episodes. Gatchaman Crowds is a good recent example. Watched the first episode and didn’t like it. A friend persuaded me to watch the rest and now I absolutely love it.

      Oh, and the opposite is also true. A show with a good pilot can turn out to be shockingly bad.

      Personally, while I didn’t hate the SHIELD pilot, I wasn’t as blown away as I had expected to be. However, the main reason I think it’s way too early to be killing off characters is because we got plenty of hints throughout the episode that there were hidden depths and secrets to each of the characters we’ve yet to see and which’ll likely be presented to us as the show goes on. So it’s way to early to judge the show until we find out how Whedon handles these.

    • yeah remember when Parks and Rec’s first episode (and season) was amazing and not at all a bad copy of The Office?

      Oh, thats right, you don’t. Because that first episode and season of Parks and Rec was not good. In fact, it was a miracle it was even renewed for a second season after that first one. But the show improved and became something entirely its own, and is now the best comedy on TV.

      To say a first episode of a show is indicative of its overall quality from that point on is absurd. Walking Dead started off with a great episode one, and then quickly went horrible, with its ups and downs along the way. Buffy and Angel both had pretty underwhelming first episodes and seasons, but as they grew they both became very good shows.

      You really do sound like one of those super elitist “I don’t watch tv except for Breaking Bad and Mad Men and HBO! Look how refined my tastes are!” No one likes that guy.

      • Good example. I was thinking the same thing. Parks rocks now, such a funny show. First season was barely watchable.

    • You can also go all the way back to “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (is that showing my age too much??) when it kicked off. Uneven, slow plotted, and characters were just not fleshed out at all. Half a season later, most of the critics had been won over.

      On the opposite end of the spectrum, anyone want to talk “Heroes”? Just an amazing premier, and outstanding first season, then……


      I liked the comic energy of “A.O.S”. I am fine with giving these characters time to grow into themselves.

  8. Bust out your DVD’s and go watch the first episode of your favorite shows. Good shows start out good, bad shows start out bad.

  9. This is the kind of an article you write at the end of a season once you’ve had enough time to reflect on the show and get to know the characters, not after the freaking PILOT!

    Are you guys serious? You just met these characters you don’t know how they will evolve and you are already thinking of killing them off?

  10. while I plan to stick around for the foreseeable future, it’d be great if they racially diversified the team some and if, as one other person posted, they cut down on the joke per minute stuff.

    that was tough to sit through. along with skye and her ascension from ihop to asgard in a matter of minutes. like wtf, I was a boy scout, will I therefore challenge for leadership of seal team six?

  11. You have to have a cameo by Nick Fury. At least to give the show some small endorsement. I kinda agree with the writer. There was allot of mugging for the camera. It was like some of the “stars” were saying, I look better from this angle.

  12. “New York was the end of the world”
    O_o really?

    “You’re the best at espionage and your combat skills are top notch”
    O_o thats some low standarts to work on SHIELD, anyone can be spy lol

    Seriously. Pilot wasn’t good in many ways. They can treat it as 1st episode or just pilot but they have a room to grow. 5 episodes – thats my rule, if it aint improve i’ll stop watching.

  13. The main problem with the SHIELD team is that too many of them are almost kids. Fitz and Simmons look as if they came straight out of high school, while the team is of so much importance that people with more experience in their field of expertise would be a much wiser choice. I understand the argument: “entirely new situation so fresh minds are required” but I don’t quite buy it.

    Also, Fitz, Simmons and Skye are a bit too quirky. In a world that is basically run by nerds and geeks, who basically are normal people, hasn’t the whole “weird geek” cliché run its course?

    • I thought Fitz, Simmons and Skye were a bit annoying, but I chalk that up to getting the characters right. They went extreme on it. If they tone down the personalities a little and the quirky jargon they could be OK. The Buffy style language doesn’t work for a Top Secret Agency. It doesn’t however bother me that they are so young and can do amazing things like hack government computers with a laptop. It’s a comic book show. Super intelligence and amazing techno skills are par for the course.

  14. I think the show has alot of potential. I agree that they should throw some of the other later Avengers in the mix. I was hoping with the pilot that the black dude would be either Luke Cage or the opposite, part of the wrecking crew. That would have made the pilot top notch. I think that they should throw in the Heroes for Hire, Luke Cage and Then Iron Fist and have some of the lesser known villains like the Wrecking Crew or the Hand as enemies. Lets see some cameos too..Throw in a CGI Iron Man in the midst of a fight..or Thor. I’d watch that kind of stuff religiously. :)

  15. For all those “It’s only a pilot!” people: You DID read the last slide of the article, right? The positive “There is potential here,” statement we made?

    Or did you just jump down into the comments and start yelling?

    • I think people are more annoyed that you’re already saying characters need to be killed off/replaced/whatever despite the fact that it’s only the first episode and we really haven’t got a chance to know them yet.

      I mean, look at this quote from Page 3.

      ‘Look, with every slide it is seeming more and more clear that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is in need of a re-tooled cast.’

      It’s been one episode. It really doesn’t need a re-tooled cast already. We just need more time to get to know the characters and watch them develop, not to throw them away immediately in a knee-jerk reaction.

      • On the other hand: lengthwise a pilot episode is half a movie. How long does it take you in a movie to realize that some characters don’t work for you in their current form?

        • A movie is a standalone thing. You have to make every effort to show off the characters through its running time, because you won’t get another chance (unless you do a sequel). A Tv series is different. It can afford to ignore characters for other more important things, then turn the spotlight back on them and give them a chance to shine.

          That’s obviously what Whedon’s doing us. He’s giving us a small taste of the characters now and obviously intends to develop and showcase them further as the series continues. How well he’s currently handling this is somewhat YMMV though.

          • Yeah, honestly, it’s articles like this that make me go to other sites that don’t nit-pick and tear things apart so relentlessly. There seems to often be the, “I listened to them before they were popular” mentality going on here that really never gives rise to actual, unbiased conversation.

  16. We know it was only the pilot episode everyone, but I think it’s the initial set up that everyone is unhappy with, we now know the core base of characters that the series is gonna focus on and thats what the problem is.

    Sooo,, SHIELD everybody. A top secret elite government organisation who are responsible for the safety of the human race who successfully did the impossible and brought the Avengers together. They even have information about global threats (level 7) that Tony Stark and his buddies don’t have access too.
    Yet the agents they have doin the Avengers legwork seem to be a group of good looking, stereotypical and annoying teenager/20 somethings, seriously.
    (It was like an episode of James Bond Junior)

    After all the Marvel movies this one episode made me lose all credibility for the organisation. It would be harder for someone to get a job in McDonalds than it was for Skye to start working for SHIELD.

    I was hoping it would be more about believable well established agents, believable as in their 30′s, 40′s or closer to Coulsens age and focus more on espionage and the secret everyday workings of the organisation.
    I know Marvel is a family business but the show was never gonna have appearances by any Super Heroes or the Avengers themselves so I thought they’d aim it more towards the +21 demography.
    Instead, looks like we’re stuck with a generic buffy style cast thats aimed towards children and teenagers.

    I can understand why ABC and Marvel did this but for me, I’ll just wait for Thor 2 and keep watching HBO and AMC shows. It’s disappointing because it could of been great.

    • It also could HAVE been great… but, yeah, it was good and should get better.

    • Totally Agree. And yes: McDonalds would have been harder.

    • Agreed those two scientist Fric and Frac really irked me, and the Beefcake Charlie agent brings absolutely nothing to the show. However, I’d watch a show featuring Agent May, Skye, and Coulson (without all the one liners) if the show added a hero or two to the cast.

    • that is actually rather close to the comics to be honest. pick up any number of SHIELD stories and you’ll see about what you saw on the tv show. There are a number of older senior members but the field agents tend to be fairly young (or appear that way given SHIELD’s technology)

      Fury for example is rather old having fought in World War II but he has a reason for not aging as much. but more often than not most of the foot soldiers are in their late 20s up to their 40s

      in fact i think they did a decent translation of the comics.

  17. These suggestions give the impression that the viewers want to control how the story is told. Isn’t that Joss’s job? I’m fairly certain he had a reason for picking the people and working them in the way he did. Maybe we should wait a few episodes and see what else he’s planning to do with them before we decide that we know more than he does – especially considering we don’t know anything that he does about the future of this show. If we don’t know the destination, then who are we to demand how we get there?

  18. These are all legitimately well thought out criticisms that could indeed elevate the show into something more than what we got. It wasn’t bad, just not great. Except for Coulson dealing with the Extremis wannabe hero at the end. It was a poignant moment. This show needs to be it’s own distinctive thing. I’ll keep watching for now to see where they go with it and hopefully learn from their mis steps. Two things should be noted. I agree with Clark Gregg and Mjng Na bein the best parts of the pilot (in fact without them it would have been a pretty weak episode). That and the nice cameo at the beginning. Nice to read articles like this one, well reasoned and devoid of the obnoxious snark that overwhelm sites like Joblo.

  19. Wow! Can’t believe some fans/critics have this must angst over a PILOT! Can everyone get a little perspective?

  20. Geez, this was just a pilot, one mere episode and already people are complaining wherever I surf in the net? Hey, Rome wasn’t built in just a day, plus all we’ve seen so far is just the crust, the icing, the top layer of the cake and we haven’t even seen or know the inside stuff yet.

    Let’s just give this show a break and see how it develops for several episodes. Some amazing TV show took tens of episodes before finally getting into their zone, I can’t see why this one is any different. Personally, I like it and it’s intriguing, it has lots of potential and I’m definitely looking forward to see more of the team. And nope, I have to disagree… this is probably the first show I’ve watched that I really don’t have any character I would want to get rid off XD

    • “Wait, it gets better!” Is never a valid reason to stick with something. My time is valuable and I am not wading through ten episodes to get to something I like. While this pilot has just enough to keep me on board for one more episode, if it was terrible I would not watch another episode.

  21. Sucked ass hard.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything suck ass so bad.

    In fact, there was so much ass sucking that I put on extra underwear, just to be on the safe side.

  22. Not sure who target audience is. Definitely not kids under 13. Foul language is horrendous and so not necessary to maintain plot or audience. It is ridiculous that my son, who loves superheroes and quoting his favorite movies, cannot watch without me previewing and fast-forwarding. Not worth it.

  23. Skye wasn’t developed correctly and she was just thrown in there. She was kidnapped by SHIELD right away but there was no process for her development before and after. They could have spent more time with that and had made it a two part episode. They didn’t develop enough of any of the characters including Extremis Man so we could see what he was about. Instead he revealed details about him near the end of the episode instead of it developing his character, and so his acting came off as weak too when it could have been better. Skye was a hacker and very good at it, so with how intelligent she was I can see why they would throw her in there and she would pick up on things very quickly. Because she’s new they don’t have to pay her as much and so if they do pay her more she’ll be more than worth her pay when she picks up on the skills. But the SHIELD company doesn’t have much of an infrastructure with how they put things together and there would be a process including the training that would be involved. Otherwise you just won’t be able to figure out how this show works and it will just look random and that it adlibs everything without any real plot, unlike a lot of great sci fi shows with Buffy, Angel, Farscape, Babylon 5, etc. and Marvel comic books/movies.

  24. you are kidding right? Sky was the strongest of all the characters introduced. Melinda May hardly had a few lines…you take Sky out of the picture thats it for me, i got not interest from the other agents.

  25. somewhere, apocalypse, mister sinister, kang, thanos and assorted marvel villains must have had a field day with shield’s immediate hiring of skye. sure had the red skull losing sleep.

  26. Basically you are trying to say “add more brown people to the show” because nothing makes a show better like pandering to demographics.

    I personally liked Skye

    • call it want you want. it’s a long standing problem with the entertainment world. so Natalie portman called for an ethnic superhero film, is she a panderer? or does she, as others do, recognize the scarcity?

      but i’m guessing you’re coming at me because you’re likely well represented as is. we can disagree, but I won’t be some yes man.

  27. Just throwin it out there not sure if you guys said it already but at one point during the show i just got such a strong feeling(not in my pants) that the main villain is going to be S.H.I.E.L.D?

  28. There’s a very fine line between funny and cheesy, not quite sure what side this show is on yet.

  29. I have to admit I was wrong i thoought the show would not even be good enough to be called a turdfest but i was wrong It was a turdfest. I give it till November it will be gone. Unless the Hulk and thor come on every week to fight.