Being signed on to be the director of Avengers was a huge coup for Joss Whedon. The film received critical praise, was a massive success in the box office, and has now allowed Whedon the freedom he always needed to pursue projects in the way he sees fit. One of these projects is Marvel’s upcoming TV show, The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and fans are looking forward to again seeing Whedon doing what he’s best at—creating meaningful characters that audiences connect with and developing long-lasting story arcs that are both socially potent and have genuine effects on his characters. These are skills he had great success with for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, but since those glory days, Whedon has struggled to keep his shows on the air for more than a season. Firefly is still considered one of the greatest shows of all time, but Fox only gave it thirteen episodes (and aired them out of order) before cancelling it. Dollhouse was brilliant, but the public didn’t quite get it and it too was cancelled before its time. The trick is that Whedon’s shows require time to develop and suck you in, and sadly, the public isn’t often willing to give him that kind of time. With The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. all of that should change.
People are invested in the Marvel universe and many of the characters in the show are already fan favorites. Instead of being something that people just “give a try,” Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a show that audiences are already predisposed to liking. For Whedon and his style, this is huge. He should have all the time he needs to build the characters and story, and Marvel fans at least will follow the show religiously.
Just look at the audience at Comic Con. Fans packed the relatively small Ballroom 20 just to get a chance to see the creative team behind the show. Joss Whedon came out to uproarious applause, and Clark Gregg (who played Agent Coulson in multiple Marvel films) had to actively work to hide his emotion at the sheer outpouring of support. Later, when Gregg was asked how it felt to return, he was rendered speechless and opted instead just to give Whedon a hug. This kind of support bodes very well for the show and for Whedon, and the team behind Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t hesitate to give the fans more than they were expecting.
“Can you show us a clip?” an audience member asked. “We wanted to bring you a clip,” Whedon replied, trying to hide a grin, “but there were issues with the Disney lawyers…so we’re just gonna show you the episode.”
Show it they did, and the fans went wild. We’re not going to spoil the episode here, but suffice it to say it was awesome. Everyone laughed, cheered, and appeared thoroughly engaged by the pilot. The ballroom erupted in a wave of applause when it ended, and preliminary critic responses are extremely positive. All we’ll say is that the show connected to the recent films in ways that felt very natural, but that did an excellent job in further expanding upon the Marvel universe. In a way, the show seems to flesh out aspects of the stories told in the movies that the two-hour time span of the films just couldn’t cover, and in typical Whedon fashion, this adds a lot of character and emotional depth. Coulson’s death in Avengers and rebirth in the show is handled well and intriguingly, and he makes for an excellent main character.
The fact that they premiered an entire episode shows amazing confidence in the show both on the part of Whedon and the production studios involved. It means they believe word of mouth will advertise this show better than the Marvel connections will, and if the fan response at Comic Con was any indication, they’re right.
“Sitting back there and listening to you guys watch the show and sharing this experience with you has been overwhelming,” said Ming-Na Wen, an actress in the show, near the end of the event as others on the panel indicated their agreement.
At the panel’s close, Whedon said “I have that feeling I have not had for a very long time, where I’ve assembled an extraordinary ensemble of ridiculously talented and soon-to-be-full-of-themselves people. The endless possibilities between them and among them; the things we’ve got from the Marvel Universe and the things we’re bringing to the Marvel Universe … I guess I’m just a little excited.” And he should be. He’s finally getting the chance to do something amazing in a TV/serial universe again, and this time he has a huge budget to work with. If he can bring even half of type of amazing ideas he had for Firefly and Dollhouse into the mix, The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stands to become something far more than just a movie spin-off, and this time, audiences will give Whedon the time to do what he does best.
Look forward to getting to see the pilot for yourself when it premiers on ABC on September 24th!