Comics professionals across America huddled in front of their television sets last night to watch the premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and while most all corners heaped on the praise and goodwill for the show’s first outing it did have it’s critics; namely, legendary Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. writer/artist Jim Steranko. In the debut of a weekly commentary of the television show for The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog, Steranko gave the premiere episode a resounding thumbs down, saying that the show “needs to be much tougher, much stranger, much edgier to reach it’s potential.”
“The pilot assumes the audience is cognizant of the Marvel Universe as it regales viewers with a salvo of references established previously in big-screen efforts,” Steranko writes. “Granted, Avengers may be the third-highest-grossing flick of all time, but recalling the details of last year's favorite may be too much to expect above the fanboy level.”
The creator questions the choice to focus on more everyman heroes. “The show's creators have gone on record to point out the series is about ordinary people, somewhat echoing the Hitchcock approach (ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances),” Steranko continues. “Perhaps, in this case, ordinary may not be enough to warrant audience interest and loyalty.”
One of the key omissions according to Steranko in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.is the super-spy organization’s most popular agent, Nick Fury.
“Although Fury, like Batman and Bond, has no superpowers, he is clearly suprahuman: irresistible, indomitable, invincible,” the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. writer/artist explains. “…the [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.] opener would have benefitted immensely from a 15-second cameo or even a damn phone call from [Samuel L. Jackson's Fury.”
For Steranko, the show’s lead Agent Coulson (played by Clark Gregg) is comparable to former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and “is no Fury.”
“Could anyone understand the dialogue delivered by the S.H.I.E.L.D. lab team?” Steranko added. “Did anyone feel punted into P.C.-ville by the Hooded Hero being black? And did we really need the rampant, dueling ideologies at the pilot's denouement? We all understand melodrama has its conveniences, contrivances and coincidences, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect a certain transcendence with the kind of creative talent behind the series.”
Steranko is one of several creators thanked in the credits of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. last night, and although Steranko is primary known for his comics work, he has spent time in Hollywood on several occasions. In the early 1970s he wrote a short film called Shadow House starring John Carradine, and he served as a concept artist for 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark as well as Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992.