Musings on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Pilot

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Finally got around to watching this one as I missed the pilot on Tuesday. I was initially anticipating this but honestly, I kind of forgot about it for a while.

Whedon_SHIELDwritersYou gotta hand it to Marvel studios in their shrewd strategy in marketing/releasing their films. The Avengers stands as the highest-grossing superhero blockbuster of all time with over $1.5 Billion worldwide gross, so naturally the comic book studio would want to capitalize on that. It’s another proof of the studio’s shrewdness in marketing their products. Joss Whedon, who’s now the creative supervisor of Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, heads back to his TV roots with creating this TV series. This time it’s a family affair too, he’s working with his brother Jed Whedon and Jed’s wife, fellow screenwriter Maurissa Tancharoen.  S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), led by Agent Coulson, is tasked with handling cases that involve the “strange and the unknown.” Seems that it’s got tons of potential to expand the Marvel universe, so did the pilot deliver?

A few quick thoughts on the pilot:

The setting takes place after The Avengers, post Battle of New York in the finale of the movie. I was a big fan of HEROES in the first couple of seasons but then the ‘freaks of the week’ storyline kind of get old. Now, I’m hoping it’d be different with Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. given its ties with characters I already know and love.

Welcome back Agent Coulson!

I love Clark Gregg! He’s just so darn likable you can’t help but root for him. I might’ve seen him in numerous supporting parts but the last show I saw him before he was part of Marvel universe was the sit-com The New Adventures of Old Christine. Wow, he’s certainly has come a long way since then, glad to see him finally leading a show of his own! Clearly he’s having a great time as Coulson, he has this constant smirk on face he can’t seem to shake, ahah. Nice intro on his character too:

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“Welcome to Level Seven.”

“Sorry, that corner was really dark and I couldn’t help myself”

Just how’s Coulson’s back from the dead?

If you haven’t seen The Avengers by now, you probably just aren’t interested. So I don’t consider this to be a spoiler. We all know Coulson stopped breathing when Loki stabbed him with a giant scepter. Now, I don’t know how far back was the plan to bring him back for this show, but even in the movie, Nick Fury and agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) sort of hinted that perhaps Coulson survived. Something about his bloodied baseball cards weren’t in his pocket in all that.

So it’s for the purpose of team building that Fury kept the truth from the Avengers to energize the team for the imminent battle. On the show, Coulson briefly explains just how he comes back to life… and the keyword is Tahiti.

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 “Tahiti. He really doesn’t know, does he?” Dr. Streiten (Firefly alum Ron Glass) whispered to Maria Hill.

“He can never know.” Hill replied.

Oh I love how Whedon keeps the mystery alive as to the real truth behind the whole ‘back to life’ ordeal and I’m curious what he’d do with that!

The crowd-pleasing snappy dialog…

I was getting tired of the ‘Don’t touch Lola’ quip that’s been played over and over again in every single promo of the show, but fortunately those aren’t the only quotable stuff from the show. There are actually not-so-subtle nods and references that geeks, esp. Whedonites, would totally eat up. Thanks to TVFanatic for these quotes!

Agent Ward: “I don’t think Thor’s technically a god.”

Agent Maria Hill: “Well you haven’t been near his arms”

The self-referential stuff are fun, like poking fun at the key audience of the show itself.

Agent Ward: She’s a groupy, all the hacking into SHIELD, tracking powers. She might as well be one of those sweaty Cosplay characters crowding around Stark tower.

Skye: WHAT?! I would… [whispers] it was just one time.

Cool Set Pieces + Special Effects

I’m not sure how big the budget is exactly but I’m sure it’s a boatload. Looks like after the behemoth box office success of The Avengers, Whedon could have anything at his disposal. The set pieces are top notch, the slick-looking headquarter, the SHIELD plane, state-of-the-art technology, etc. are as much eye candy as the pretty cast. That plane still can’t hold a candle to the geekgasm-inducing helicarrier but still it’s pretty sweet!

No shortage of action sequences and slick tech gizmos to um, marvel on, that’s for sure.

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Girl Power!

I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise coming from Whedon. After all he’s created one of the most iconic female heroine with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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Love Ming-Na Wen casting … did you know she’s going to be 50 years old this year? You’d never know it by looking at her! Crazy that the last film I saw her in was The Joy Luck Club 20 years ago and there’s definitely no ass-kickin’ in that one. Here she’s like a slightly softer version of Michelle Yeoh but yeah, she’s bad ass and managed to still looks elegant doing it, too. I’d love to see how her character arc develop over the course of the show, she certainly is my favorite character after of course, Coulson.

The rest of the cast

Chloe Benet manages to surprise me as Skye, in a good way. In the pilot she looks like another pretty young thing but she actually has pretty decent comic timing. I like that she’s a rebel, albeit a goofy one, and her obsession with superheroes is endearing. She’s recruited for her computer hacking ability, and judging from her scenes with agent Ward, I wouldn’t be surprised if the two’ll hook up. I just hope they’d keep the romantic stuff to a minimum as it can get really lame, fast. Especially when you don’t have strong actors to pull it off, which brings me to …

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Brett Dalton
as the tough guy Agent Ward. Well, he is just as bland as he looks in all the promos. Skye referring him as T-1000 is quite spot on considering how robotic his acting style is. He just gives me a Soap Opera-ish vibe (NEVER a good thing), like he just steps out of Days of Our Lives or All My Children, arched eyebrows and pout intact. Not much to go for on IMDb as far as acting cred, which makes me wonder just how he convinced Whedon on his audition? Hopefully he’d step it up in the future episodes but right now, he’s just tall, dark and meh to me.

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Oh I’m also not terribly fond of the two Brits who make up the tech experts Fitz and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker). Yeah ok, catchy moniker but the two actors are pretty bland and when they try to be funny it makes me cringe! Maybe I’ll warm up to those two but right now they kind of annoy me.

How long will this keep me interested?

Well, so far it’s got enough going for it to keep me tuning in for the next one. The storyline involving Project Centipede should be familiar to those who’ve seen Iron Man 3. It could’ve been more compelling but I’m having mixed feelings the neat resolution at the end.

But hey, I can’t help but geek out at flying LOLA!

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I mean how could Skye ever say no to the offer of joining SHIELD now?? I literally clapped when that scene came on, it was pure geek-gasm stuff. Forget KITT (I probably date myself here, ahah), Lola is by far THE coolest TV car ever. Boy, if Whedon already shows something THAT awesome in the pilot, I’m hoping he’s got even cooler stuff in store for us in future episodes!

So I guess the answer to my question above is: we shall see. It’ll take a few more episodes before I can decide if I want to keep watching.


Ok so that’s my two cents on the show so far. What do you all think? Let me know your favorite and least favorite parts of the show.