[This article contains SPOILERS for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.]
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may play a part in complicating the MCU but now that we are officially entering the Age of Ultron, Marvel's shared universe has never been more connected, and things will only be tied closer together.
We still have yet to see an end to Phase 2 (which won't happen until Ant-Man), and even though Marvel isn't releasing The Inhumans until 2019 after The Infinity Wars, AoS has done a significant job of introducing a few Inhuman characters and establishing a storyline. Now that the show's season 2 finale is close by, we're getting a look at some interesting artwork and hearing a teaser for the final episode.
The artwork titled Scars features Jiaying (Skye's mother) as well as Skye, and comes from Marguerite Sauvage, a Montreal-based illustrator who has worked on DC's Wonder Woman and is responsible for covers of Ms. Marvel, Wicked and the Divine, Daredevil and All-New Thor. Needless to say, she is no stranger to illustrating powerful yet mysterious characters.
In an interview with EW, Executive Producer Jeff Bell discussed a little bit about the poster as well as Marvel's strong female characters:
"Here's something else that I find interesting: I think some of the posters are going to appeal to more men than women, and some to more women than men. And at Marvel, which has been traditionally such a dude company, one of the things we really pride ourselves on at Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is that we have all these strong women characters and the diversity of those characters. We've have lots of strong women on these posters this year, with Sif and May and Jiaying and Bobbi...and I like seeing all that. And I just feel, aesthetically, certain ones feel more comic book and certain ones feel more illustrative. And I think there's a little something for everybody."
Marvel has been slow at introducing and layering powerful female characters. Phase 1 had mostly love interest secondaries (Pepper, Jane) with only Black Widow and Agent Carter playing more expansive roles (relatively speaking). Phase 2 has pretty much been the same - though Carter did get to headline her own TV miniseries, while the films have begun introducing character and plot elements that will expand female presence in future films (Scarlett Witch and Captain Marvel come to mind). To date, it is ironically Marvel's black sheep, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., that has done the most at bringing female characters to the forefront.
Later in the interview, Bell teased the season finale for AoS and how it might tie together with Age of Ultron:
"Well, we're really building towards the last episode of the season, and I think we're really building the momentum. Episode 19 ended with Coulson saying "take me to your leader" and went straight into putting the team back together at the end of 20. So now we've kind of got S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.0 together. I don't want to overstate that, but we've got Hydra coming together, we've got the Inhumans coming together, and hopefully it gets tied up in a big explosive finale."
"Our stories have to stand on their own. We're not getting blown up like we were last year with Hydra and Captain America, but some elements or some things from the movie do affect some of the relationships in our episodes moving forward, in an interesting and constructive manner."
A very big difference between the AoS tie-in to AoU and the previous connection with Captain America: The Winter Soldier is that Marvel's shared universe is a different powerhouse than it was in April of 2014; the universe is expanding even further on the small screen and now that AoS is a standalone show, its success should be less dependent on the relationship between its storyline and the events of AoU (though there will obviously be a connection).
Say what you will, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has stepped up their production value and storytelling significantly since their first season (post Winter Soldier); the characters have more depth, the action is much more intense and the tone is darker, which adds believability to a potentially explosive season 2 finale (especially since it will be two hours long).
If nothing else, it will be interesting to see how AoS brings its second season to a close and how it will all tie-in to the bigger picture.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two finale airs Tuesday, May 12th.