Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have had a lot to look forward to since The Avengers hit theaters last summer. With Iron Man 3's billion-dollar box office take and Thor: The Dark World on its way to theaters, Phase Two of the film side of things is in full swing. Add to that the premiere of Marvel Studios' maiden television voyage in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and rumors of an Agent Carter series), and it looks like the company is eager to take over another medium entirely.
Certainly, fans of Joss Whedon have been looking forward to the premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as the Avengers writer/director has proven time and time again that ensemble television is his specialty. Buzz has been building for the ABC series ever since Whedon's involvement was announced and only intensified when news broke that Clark Gregg would resurrect fan favorite character Agent Coulson to head the series (although we still don't know how). If its ratings are any indication, it appears that all the hype might lead to a hit series for ABC.
According to Nielsen ratings, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. attracted 11.9 million viewers for its pilot episode. For the sake of comparison, these figures place it behind the premiere of new NBC drama The Blacklist, coincidentally starring Avengers: Age of Ultron star James Spader. However, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did rein in a 4.9 rating among the 18 to 49 demographic, the highest-rated premiere for that age group since V.
The initial success of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't surprising considering the broad appeal of Marvel heroes and the fact that it's following the studio's two most successful big-screen ventures. Still, fans shouldn't start fantasizing about what the series will bring in seasons to come. Many highly-anticipated shows have fizzled out soon after failing to secure a steady audience after its premiere (the aforementioned V, for example, only lasted two seasons).
Critically, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn't exactly set the world on fire with its pilot episode (read our review). While the pilot episode has its share of clichés and underwhelming moments, it does demonstrate enough promise to potentially evolve into an enjoyable viewing experience tied to the larger Marvel mythos. After all, Whedon's past series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse took time to develop beyond their case-of-the-week starting points into a more engaging, serialized storyline.
As it stands, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the attention of fans. Now it just needs to keep it.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8pm on ABC.