Last year while counting down to The Avengers, I noted that Marvel was doing something unprecedented with its multi-movie franchise. For the first time, a company was building an expansive universe. The six movies, Iron Man 1&2, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, and finally The Avengers told not only individual superhero stories, but also created a larger arc about the birth of the Avengers. Now, Marvel is implementing Stage Two, which involves not only the sequels (this year Iron Man 3 and Thor 2) but also a new media breakthrough: Agents of SHIELD, a new TV show created by Joss Whedon on ABC.
The show is only two episodes in, so drawing large conclusions would be premature. So far, Agents of SHIELD has drawn both deserved criticism and praise. However, it’s still too early to evaluate it qualitatively, so instead I’d like to talk about the experiment that is this show. Not only is this the first foray into the Marvel Universe that doesn’t directly involve superheroes, it’s also a chance to further broaden the world. As the very alive Agent Coulson seems to say once per episode, the world changed dramatically after the Battle of New York in The Avengers. Agents of SHIELD can explain how exactly it’s changed.
So far, the show has been reactive. In the two first episodes, our ragtag team agents have dealt with technology created in one of the previous movies: exploding people from Iron Man 3 and Hydra plasma cannons from Captain America. (In addition, the technology behind the like-it-or-hate-it flying car Lola was introduced in Captain America.) Hopefully, as the show gains its footing and the characters are better fleshed out, Agents of SHIELD will start contributing to the Marvel movies rather than reacting to them. With Thor 2 coming out in November, we’ll be getting a very real example of how the show will interact with Marvel’s wildly successful franchise. No doubt, the show has a lot to juggle: it’s introducing new characters, fitting into the Marvel Universe, satisfying Marvel fans while attracting new viewers, and (hopefully) eventually adding to the larger plot. For those reasons, I’m definitely going to keep tuning in. And also for Lola.