Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has undoubtedly found its footing in season 2, offering fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe a much more developed, well-plotted and relevant extension of the movies - with room left over to organically grow and launch the concept for a spinoff miniseries, Agent Carter.
Of course, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 has had the benefit of (so far) being free of any major Marvel movie releases that could upset the flow of its storyline (see: the epic recalibration caused by Captain America: The Winter Soldier during season 1) - but that should change around the time the sophomore season comes to close, as The Avengers: Age of Ultron is headed into theaters.
It's been a no-brainer that Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and the leftover remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D. could potentially be pulled into the fate-of-the-world battle between The Avengers and evil A.I. robot Ultron (James Spader); in fact, earlier this year, there were rumors that an AoS cast member was spotted on the Age of Ultron set, causing speculation about Coulson's team appearing in the film.
But whether or not the remaining agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actually show up in Age of Ultron, the threat the villain poses to the world will likely have a lasting impact on all corners of it - and even before the "Age of Ultron" begins, the first sparks of that wildfire are something that AoS (and possibly Agent Carter) will likely introduce.
We won't know specifics until early 2015 when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ends its hiatus (and/or Agent Carter has finished its run), but EW can confirm the obvious: that AoS will have some kind of tie-in to Age of Ultron. According to EP Jed Whedon:
"You should expect something. The Avengers is the big tent that all the franchises play under. Obviously, we’re included in that."
Added EP Melissa Tancharoen:
“I don’t think any movie has the potential to impact us in the way that Captain America 2 did, but there will be connections.”
Regarding the latter quote: Winter Soldier was certainly a major shake up for the AoS staff and show, alike. As the story goes, when Whedon and Tancharoen started developing season 1 they had little idea that HYDRA would be revealed as such a far-reaching clandestine threat; it was a major wake-up call when they finally did learn Marvel's plans, and had to alter the course of the show accordingly.
It's now assumed that Marvel Studios has learned from freshman growing pains, and has better synched its TV and movie branches. That just leaves the risk of future "tie-ins" becoming the sort of flimsy gimmicks seen in season 1 episodes like the pilot (with Iron Man 3 extremis references) or Thor 2 epilogue, rather than stronger crossover moments like the Captain America 2 fallout or Lady Sif guest spot.
As stated, one thing that AoS has accomplished to much greater degree in season 2 is making its existence relevant. Currently, the storyline about Kree influence on Earth and a possible city that can transform a chosen few humans into true "marvels" or "miracles," is doing a lot of legwork the movies can't. The Kree city story directly ties earth to the cosmic happenings of Guardians of the Galaxy, and/or sets up Marvel Phase 3 films like Inhumans and possibly Captain Marvel. That kind of development qualifies AoS as "must see" viewing for Marvel fans wanting the complete, interconnected picture, so one hopes that the show can do something similar both before and after the major upheavals of Age of Ultron.
Based on what we know so far about Avengers 2, it would seem like Coulson's race against HYDRA to understand (and harness?) the powers endowed by Kree technology could feed into how a villain like Baron von Strucker is experimenting to create metahuman weapons like Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver when Age of Ultron begins. Similarly, Agent Carter could potentially introduce us to a younger Hank Pym, whose experiments with A.I. may be the foundation that Tony Stark builds his ill-fated Ultron program on. Those are two of the stronger possibilities for how these Agent(s) shows can have relevant ties to the major film event, without becoming too tangled in continuity and story obligations.
There's also going to be that awkward moment when The Avengers find out Coulson is still breathing...
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is currently about to air its midseason finale tonight @ 9pm on ABC.
Agent Carter miniseries will premiere with a two-hour event on January 6, 2015 @9pm on ABC.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be in theaters on May 1, 2015.
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