Marvel Studios and Disney will be trying to further expand the massive success of their superhero universe this fall, making the jump from big-screen movies to small-screen television with the premiere of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the new spinoff show that follows the men and women of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division, as they try to combat the new threats that arise in an Avengers world, following the team’s milestone battle in New York against the alien Chitauri.
In anticipation of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s premiere in a few weeks, we have a new featurette and synopsis for the pilot episode (which was directed by Avengers helmer Joss Whedon) – both of which are geared toward explaining just where the show fits into the Avengers timeline, and how it will incorporate various other aspects of the Major Marvel Movies.
The featurette gives us behind-the-scenes looks at the show’s action and comedy mix – which seems to be signature “Brand Whedon,” judging from the quick snippets of both (female-oriented) action and slapstick comedy shown in the footage above. Not only has that tone and signature worked for the Marvel movies (see: billion-dollar Avengers), it also happens to have been the same successful blend Whedon applied to his string of cult-hit TV shows like Buffy, Angel and Firefly. The more serious-minded Dollhouse never flew quite as high as the other Whedon shows, so to those fans hoping for a more intense spy drama experience, I say: maybe Whedon keeping things light is a good thing?
More interesting, however, is the synopsis for the Pilot episode of the show, which premieres on Tuesday September 24th:
These agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have a mission: To investigate the new, the strange and the unknown around the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary.
In the premiere episode, “Pilot,” it’s just after the battle of New York, and now that the existence of super heroes and aliens has become public knowledge, the world is trying to come to grips with this new reality. Agent Phil Coulson is back in action and has his eye on a mysterious group called the Rising Tide. In order to track this unseen, unknown enemy, he has assembled a small, highly select group of Agents from the worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division). The group’s first assignment together as a team finds them trying to track down an ordinary man who has gained extraordinary powers. Powers that could have devastating consequences.
On the surface that seems pretty logical, no? The resurrected Agent Coulson (can’t wait for THAT explanation) assembles his own team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to monitor and control world events after a massive game-changer like “The Battle of New York.” Indeed, Marvel has done well at exploring the cause and effect of their fantastical movie universe developments from within a (semi-)real world context – and the question of how the world’s top spies and combat operatives now rank compared to super-powered beings is certainly an interesting one – interesting enough to serve as a suitable hook for an ongoing TV series.
However, the one line in that synopsis that raises eyebrows on the careful observer is the mention that in the pilot the team will track down an “ordinary man who was gained extraordinary powers” – the keyword in that sentence being “gained.” We already know that there are no mutants in Marvel’s universe (thanks to legal snags from Fox’s X-Men rights), but what that synopsis describes is something different than the Marvel One-Shot “Item 47,” in which leftover Chitauri technology was the catalyst for mayhem. The S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot will explore the idea of regular people being able to gain superpowers – the question is: by what method will they do so?
It seems odd to think that a pilot episode of an ensemble TV show would invest significant time in the origin story of an antagonist – meaning that it doesn’t seem like a super-soldier serum or gamma ray mishap will create a familiar Marvel super villain. Given what the showrunners and Marvel Executives like Kevin Feige have said in the past, it’s more likely that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be tying itself to the current arc of the Marvel Phase Two movies by introducing Extremis into the mix.
The clues are there:
- Feige has indicated that Extremis would return, and that S.H.I.E.L.D.’s absence in Iron Man 3 would be explained. The events of the pilot could accomplish both.
- Extremis was a process that turns “ordinary people” into super-powered beings who could potentially explode – hence, “powers that could have devastating consequence.”
- Since Extremis is not specific to any one character or origin story, it gives opportunity for a “freak of the week” format for initial episodes of the TV show.
- The villains behind Extremis in IM3 were scientists, arms dealers and hired goons – foes well-suited to battling a covert spy team.
This theory makes the most amount of sense – as indicated above – and would essentially make companion pieces out of the first two chapters in Marvel’s “Phase Two” story arc (IM3 and AoS). In fact, if it IS Extremis at the center of all this, it would raise some interesting questions as to where IM3 and AoS fall in relation to one another on the Marvel Phase Two timeline. Care to venture any guesses?
Finally, if you want to know some of the more technical info – like who is starring in, writing, and/or producing the show, check out the rest of the synopsis, below:
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” stars Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May, Brett Dalton as Agent Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet as Skye, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz and Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Jemma Simmons.
Guest starring are J. August Richards as Mike, Shannon Lucio as Debbie, Ron Glass as Dr. Streiten and Bob Stephenson as Gary, with special guest star Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill.
”Pilot” was written by Joss Whedon & Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen and directed by Joss Whedon.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Marvel’s first television series, was co-created by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen (“Dollhouse,” “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”), who also serve as executive producers along with Jeph Loeb (“Smallville,” “Lost,” “Heroes”) and Jeffrey Bell (“Angel,” “Alias”). “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is produced by ABC Studios and Marvel Television.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres on Tuesday, September 24 @8pm EST on ABC.