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. the writer might actually want to read some SHIELD stories.. the cast is fine the only weak one i saw was skye and not all that weak.

    i disagree with the author about fitz and simmons they were actually more interesting to me than the others, and i don’t mean that in a bad way since i sort of like the team.

    my only problem was it would have been more interesting if that had been Luke Cage than some unknown. Cage would have been a bigger draw for people who know the comics.

    honestly there isn’t too much to fix at the moment only more info on the characters and that’ll come out in the episodes. So i guess more of the marvel universe.. perhaps street level heroes like Daredevil… or Iron Fist.. or the Daughters of the Dragon. and maybe Moon Knight… it might even be a good place to show a cameo of Dr Strange before he heads off to meet with the Ancient One and become the Sorcerer Supreme. I really hope there will be someone from the Nova corps appear.. maybe Richard Ryder. New Warriors might be interesting as well.

    so.. there is a lot there.

    • Misty Knight and the Heroes for Hire? I’m in! :)

  2. I agree regarding the cast. I mean, they all just feel like cut-and-paste Whedon characters. All have adorkable as part of their character (a little too much for me)m there’s the snarky tech geek, then dorkier tech geeks (two at that). I doubt it’ll happen, but I’m hoping they bring in Bucky as a regular. He’s a radically different character from the rest of the cast, and would make a good replacement for Grant as the resident badass, but he’d have enough personality to stand out. Plus, he’s just popular among us Marvel fans.

    • Oh, and I know this is a pilot, but given that Whedon’s other shows managed to establish each character as being very different in their pilots, this felt like a bit of a letdown. I still enjoyed the episode, but many of the characters felt bland (Grant and the two geeks whose NAMES I can’t even remember) or like they were trying too hard (Skye, who is adorkable taken up to eleven).

  3. Give the show more than one episode before you start ranting about how to change it. Whedon shines at developing ensembles. Let’s see what he has in mind before we start burn noticing the cat and characters. Even then, if some characters don’t pan out, build them up before dropping them.

    Your 4th advice is almost self parodying. Three comments about how generic the show is, then you want to drop the one element that makes it unique and turn it into just another espionage show?

    • It’s now been 3 episode through and still the same and terrible

  4. Oh my god it was a PILOT episode. Watch the first half of the season before you all start complaining over nothing. Sheesh.

  5. Or perhaps we should WAIT until we’re seen the first season of the show before offering our so much better informed opinions to the folks making it.

    This piece popped up even before the 2nd episode has been aired.

    Can we say “JUMPING THE GUN A WEE BIT?”

    Any show needs to find it’s sea legs and I’m sure this one will.

    So chill out already.

  6. So I gathered the writer of this article’s biggest
    problem with the show is that there’s to many
    white or ” vanilla ” cast members. I get that
    diversity is important but you point it out in the
    first 3 seggestions. The super hero that the story
    was centered around was African American.
    I just don’t think that your issues with a mostly
    white cast helps your other arguments any.

    • Yes, there was an African American that the pilot centered around. But he was just another variation of the frustrated angry Black Man who just can’t get a break in life. And keeping to form, the “calm,understanding” White protagonists always talk him down…”We understand, blah blah blah, but this isn’t the way, blah blah blah.” We’ve been there and done that. Time to move on.

      • Ask yourself what color their BOSS is before pulling the race card, please. I believe he was there chewing out Coulson at the end of ep 2.

        Your description of the pilot is what I find rather racist. I only saw a low income American getting screwed by the system; rightfully angry and frustrated because he’s just trying to protect his son. (and because the Extremis was afftecing him mentally, if you were paying attention) Should they have cast a white guy so as not to offend you? I can guess what your complaint would be then. It’s just this kind of racial paranoia that belongs in the past, along with bigots of every kind. It’s just stunningly hypocritical to cry foul with one hand and then judge and stereotype with the other.

        Ironically, I agree with the author that the cast comes across as somewhat bland – though this could change with more backstory and development. Particularly Grant I could see being replaced, after sacrificing himself heroically, of course. The diversity the cast really needs is a character of two on the team that exist in the comics, because Coulson alone is not enough of a hook. Since Widow and Hawkeye’s actors probably take themselves too seriously to do the TV show we need some other people that have historically been shield agents.

        Throwing some names out there:
        Yelena Blova (the 2nd Widow – debuted in Inhumans – quite a relevant connection now)
        Barbara Morse/Mockingbird (hawkeye’s sometime s/o)
        G.W. Bridge
        Sharon Carter (cap’s gf)
        Eric O’Grady (Ant-Man connection)
        Clay Quartermain (hulkbusters conn)
        Sam Wilson/Falcon (he will be in Cap 2)

        Lastly, I’d really be happy if they revealed Skye to be Jessica Drew.

        • Man oh man oh man would I ever be happy to see Jessica Drew (something I’ve been saying since the first Iron Man. :P)

  7. The entire show needs a fix.

  8. I have not seen the pilot, but does this take place before the Avengers movie? Obviously it has to for Agent Coulson to be involved.

    • OK guys, seriously? the show is just starting out, give it a chance! I happen to like the characters, I mean sure, there is room for improvement in this department, but the basis for some potentially great characters has been laid out. Personally, I think that the relationship between the team members is going to add an element to the show that a lot of people, myself included, are going to love.
      And FYI there is nothing wrong with the characters that you perceive to be weak, in fact, those are my favorite characters. Fitz and Simmons are a great asset to the show, and while they don’t provide much in the kick-butt department, they really bring out the best in the team, and the show for that matter…
      I look forward to continue watching Agents of Shield and learning more about each of the characters, which is what you should do before you judge how they are going to be in the long-run of the show.


  9. I think the review was very accurate, but too nice when I came to 2 of the characters. Skye is way too polished and way too Disney. She is suppose to have be living in the van. Ward is much more a problem. There is nothing there. I have not seen the actor in any other show, so I can’t say whether he’s a good actor not, but the performance and the character are just horrible. This would be a cliché character if it was on TV show in the 80s. I can’t see the show making it with that character in such a prominent position.

    I know it’s early to hit a show hard with criticism, but these are some huge issues that can’t be buffed out as the show goes along like it’s other issues. These are foundation issues that should have been spotted early on. It’s the Marvel world, show it. Right now it feels like the Knight Rider world. I’m waiting for Hasselhoff to make a guest appearance.

    • Who’s to say she hasn’t been hacking various store’s online site for her clothes and what not.

  10. Show is getting so regular.. its a waste of time already, thought it would involve something more serious. the movie was all serious, the tv show is all b*******..

  11. Episode 2 was a vast improvement over the pilot, IMO. Nick Fury’s appearance at the end was killer, and it fulfills my biggest hope for the series–that is, that the actors from the MCU films will reprise their roles in occasional guest spots.

    Oh, and to the person who derided my suggestion that Whedon do this with Hawkeye and Romanoff, because he thought it would be too financially costly to pay Johannsen and/or Renner, are you willing to eat crow now that you see ABC paid the MUCH more expensive Samuel L. Jackson to work on the show? ;-) Disney has the funds, folks. And they would be wise to continue investing more into bringing the big Marvel stars to this promising series.

    Loved the references to Cap, Hydra, and Thor tonight!

  12. the roles seem to be played as if the characters are all 16 years old if the network wants any viewers over 16 to stick around a much more adult script and performances will be required

  13. There’s only been two episodes and they were both pretty good. Maybe we should give it a chance before writing an article about improving it.

  14. To me this show seems to be stuck in a middle ground. Its trying to appeal to the fans that want Avengers the tv show, while following the a typical network procedural drama. They way they assembled the cast is too similiar to things like CIS. I understand its going to take some time to get going, but after two episdoes I’m done with Fitz and Simmons. Get rid of them, and replace them with more grown up SHIELD agents who are experts in their fields. When creating a high level team to combat great threats the world has never seen, a couple of inexperienced kids is not what you go for. Having Skye there is enough.

  15. I agree with all of these points, but in the show’s defense, it’s just starting out. Most shows start with a rocky first season and usually find their sea legs by the second. That being said, I am bothered by the extremely average characters of Ward and Skye. I have a feeling ABC was heavily involved in both the development of these very cliched characters, and the casting of the young, pretty faces to portray them.
    Also, getting more serious is a great point. Comic book stories involving S.H.I.E.L.D. can quite often be very dark (anyone read Secret War?) Plus, I would like to see more stories involving classic S.H.I.E.L.D. enemies like Hydra, A.I.M., and other stuff from the comics.

  16. I watched the pilot and the 2nd episode, but will probably not watch any more. Such great potential–very witty dialogue with a Coulson that you can’t help but like. But the writers are either idiots or they think we the audience are. So many times the characters do amazingly brilliant things with the most advanced technology, and then do bonehead things while lacking even the most commonly available tech. You can’t have it both ways. In Episode 2 (Peru), for example, a 2005-era UAV overhead could have averted every problem they faced. I guess they were all being used to kill Al Qaeda. Then they search throughout the airplane for a hodgepodge of ropes and chains to tie together, all while ignoring the 10 neatly coiled tie-down straps on the wall behind them. That’s the rub, though: If the team are as smart as they prove themselves to be at the end of each episode, they would never get into the problems at the beginning of the episode that we get to watch them resolve: Thus no story to tell us. I can suspend disbelief, but I can’t suspend basic intelligence. The writers could easily do so much better.

  17. Having only seen 2 episodes so far , i have to agree that the “characters ” don`t seem to have character.Ming na`s character seems devoid of a personality .Agent coulson just grins inanely like he is all knowing yet can`t foresee obvious things.The 2 techgeeks are annoying and unbelievable.Grant ward is ok but a bit cliche .Skye ,was and is the best character so far in the show.
    I did feel that the 2nd episode felt kinda like a low budget show .Maybe it was the script /scenario ? I dunno tbh but what I do know is that I felt underwhelmed watching it.

    • Wow, I think people are being overly critical about this show. I mean if you think that a couple of tech geeks are unbelievable, how about their modified Boeing C-17 Globemaster. Are you telling me all these other things annoy you people and you don’t even mention the C-17 having an extra set of (smaller)wings with 2 more jet engines on it behind the main wings! I mean seriously, I am fairly sure Boeing would not have made that kind of modification to the C-17. I could see them maybe packing the two addition engines on the main wings.

      • I really thought that airplane had too many turbines, all over the place. And I’m no expert.

  18. Skye is a an adorable, precious character. If they kill her, I’ll stop watching the show.

    • Same. What can we expect from a bunch of complaining geeks.

  19. They are too bloody young and clean cut. I watched a bit of the second episode and even the bad guy (or should that be girl?) took the piss out agent Coulson for sounding himself with sports cars and pretty young agents.

    It isn’t believeable that a cast that looks like they should be in glee can play agents that are suppose to be genius scientists and badass soldiers.

    This was made worse for me, because I watched this after an old episode of Sharpe (this will mean nothing to Americans). I kept thinking that Sean Bean and the chosen men would beat the crap out of these kids.

  20. Your solution is to take out the only attractive girl in the entire show?…sigh, I hate geeks.

    • Actually, it’s the geeks that want to keep the attractive girls and the “weak” characters. It seems the author of this article has never watched a Whedon show, and has no idea what a show of this genre needs or is about. It’s clear to true geeks, that the author of this article is NOT a geek. So, hate your fellow non-geeks, because we’re rooting for the hotties to stay. Sorry.

  21. I’ve got a great way to improve SHIELD, stop whiny fanboys from judging it on the strength of two or three episodes (one of which was the pilot).

    There’s nothing wrong with it other than that.

    • This. What if we were to judge Star Trek TNG entirely on its underwhelming opening episodes? Or most of its first season? Sometimes these things take time to gel, for the cast and characters to find their footing and everything to work smoothly.

      • I have these crazy fond memories of TNG. I recently went back and started the series again after many many moons (over a decade). Holy crap does Encounter at Farpoint epitomize the entire show, as well as highlight everything that ever sucked about TNG, all at the same time. It’s such a perfect microcosm of TNG that you almost don’t need to watch the rest.

        But then you do, and then it gets GOOD. And then you watch DS9 also and can die happy.

        (Seriously, it has it all: Q, smartass Wesley saves the day, the saucer separates, warp 9, Riker is a smooth operator, Tasha being forgettable, Bones hanging a lampshade on Data being the new Spock, Data being the new Spock, giant space jellyfish in love, everything but Locutus, and really, that’s such a small part.)

  22. I agree with the DIVERSITY angle, but more so with the REALITY angle.

    From the moment I saw the team in a promo poster I thought:
    Who is the cool one? Answer? There isn’t one.
    Writers/Producers needs to add a more serious character to the show:
    I say Deathlok (probably in a gentler fashion but still).

    Also a lot of Whedon shows don’t make a season, the time to fix it is now. Come on this isn’t the CW.

    • Except this is a show with a clear set verse, the Marvel movie verse, which has proved highly successfull and while still early on, the show has pulled in great ratings. Trying to “fix” a show (that while shakey, GEE I WONDER WHY A SHOW THAT JUST STARTED ISN’T PERFECT) isn’t going to magically make it better like morons think, and if anything has a higher chance of killing any interest people had. The show is not 100% set for more seasons, but they are VERY likely and if you try and hurry and “fix” s*** now, you potentially screw yourself over down the line.

      The show just started, the cast isn’t “Amazing” or anything, but they work well enough and we’re only 3 damn episodes in, it takes time and patience for most to really settle and grow, though I know most people these days have neither and then wonder why TV sucks. I’m not saying the show is perfect, but rushing to try and fix what isn;’t broken is not a solution

  23. Sorry, but this show is simply putrid. I have seriously ZERO interest in watching Coulson supervise a bland bunch of 15-year olds. The premise is ridiculous; this should be running as a kid’s show on Disney or Nickleodeon, ala Hannah Montana. Whedon has tried to recreate the whole Buffy-esque universe, utterly unsuccessfully. I am calling it “Teenagents of Squealed,” because that is the right name for it. Take a central clubhouse (library/cool jet), cool girl (the blogger? Really?), throw in love interest (Angel/Agent what’s-his-name), the usual conflict, the mentor (Giles/Coulson), the Girl Nerd and her Nerdy friend (Willow and Xander/The two nerd teens)…it’s just NOT working. This isn’t even as exciting as Alias, for the love of Asgard. Just BAD, BAD, BAD. So depressed about how awfully it has been delivered. Joss, your kid or Bro or whomever that is, doing the writing? He is NOT YOU. Sorry, but you need to suck it up and pay attention to this show before it tanks utterly. Bring in Kevin Smith if you don’t understand SHIELD, bro.

  24. [Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) seem to be fan-approved, so there's already a foundation there. ]
    I understand Coulson is a fan favorite, after all he was in the movies, and this whole “dead or not dead – recovery in fake Tahiti” situation is very interesting. But how can Ming-Na’s character be fan-approved? It’s the only character that hasn’t done anything in the show yet!

  25. This show needs a Jasper Sitwell and a Dum Dum Dugan e.g. really interesting flesh and blood characters that we can care about. Where’s Sharon Carter? I just finished Episode Three. I had to watch the replay on Hulu because the original air date literally put me to sleep about half way through. I’m not finding any of the characters interesting except for Coulson…and even HE is becoming repetitive and predictable. The show seems to be losing momentum and that’s just after three episodes! There’s my two cents. Thank you for reading this.

    • When I saw Skye unpacking her van in the beginning of episode 2, the first thing that I saw was her hula girl, and I thought I was about to see a scene with Dugan in it. :/

  26. I am a 42 year old guy that doesn’t read comic books. I just like a good story and good characters. I enjoyed the Avengers. Anyway, two episodes in AoS is not winning me over (I am halfway through episode 3 and watching it in five minute increments now – if that gives you any indication). I get what the author is saying here about the characters, but also, there is just too much magic technology saving the day. Sure superheroes have magic powers. But these are not superheroes, yet they have countless magical devices that help them solve every problem. It is eye rolling. Not sure I am going to stick with it.

  27. No offense to the author here but you have to remember that it’s Disney based and most first seasons lack in quality. I however find it interesting, when David was Nick Fury it was cheesy but the action was great.
    Joss and company needs to watch episodes of 24, there’s nothing wrong with the actors. It’s the seriousness of it which they take for granted.

  28. You guys have never seen any works of Joss Whedon’s, have you? This is only the beginning. Give it some time, it’ll get bigger and better. Trust me, the pilot episodes of Buffy and Firefly weren’t all that good either. With this guy, you have to be patient. The best is yet to come.

  29. I see that some people are saying that the characters may be “cut and past” “vanilla” and “weak”…I guess they expect the characters to act like and form a TEAM automatically. I think that what they are doing is fantastic. As in the Marine Corps, everyone is an individual that has to be MOLDED into a team…that’s more real life. If in the first couple of episodes, they were already a cohesive unit, it would be completely unbelievable. We are getting to see characters developing and a unit being formed. With Joss Whedon’s Firefly (which was AMAZING), they had characters that weren’t a team and were seen as “week” in the beginning, but who would replace ANY character from that show, looking at it now? I say, stop trying to second guess Whedon and just sit back and enjoy the ride. After all, we love his work…if you are better than him, then why don’t you have his job???