Anticipation is flying higher than a Quinjet for the premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this Tuesday on ABC. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the product of a Marvel reinvigorated by strong cross-platform creative control, synergistic alliances/ownership by mass-media gatekeepers and the talent of some of the world’s best actors and filmmakers. An impossibility just five years ago, the doors to the Marvel Universe have been flung wide open, giving everyone in the world a peek into decades of ‘American Mythology’ that had been locked behind the doors of narrow accessibility and social bias.
Limited only by the top-secret plans for Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (like Ant-Man and maybe, just maybe, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and more diverse heroes?), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can draw on decades of Marvel lore, build important back-story for those aforementioned feature films and most importantly, bring more new fans to comics than ever before.
In an effort to better prepare for what everyone hopes to be a “Six Seasons and a Movie”-level television series, here are five things we think viewers should keep an eye out for based on what we know so far.
The World Security Council
As cool and authoritative as Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury is in his role as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., it is jarring and portentous that even he answers to a higher authority: The World Security Council. This (literally) shadowy organization is apparently the real power among humanity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, powerful enough to order the destruction of an American city and have it willingly carried out.
On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The World Security Council could possibly play a larger role in the direction of the series than it has in any other related property so far. Considering that the likelihood that Sam Jackson himself will not be available to direct Agent Coulson and his team on a weekly basis, the spooky blank faced monitors that the World Security Council prefer to communicate through could play a role not only as an expository mission-giver, but their shadowy nature could end up being an important sub-plot/story arc.
The Whole World Is In On the Action
Anyone who has been greedily devouring any information about the series in the seemingly endless period since the show was picked up and the imminent premiere has heard Agent Coulson recite one line countless times: “It’s not just Spy vs. Spy anymore, the whole world is in on the action.” (“Don’t Touch Lola.” was a close second).
This statement offers tantalizing possibilities that were first teased to fans in a scene during Iron Man 2. There, Fury and Tony Stark met alongside a holographic map of Earth that points out several locations, some that have played parts in Marvel movies that had existed at the time, and several that haven’t. The most significant is the one centered on the continent of Africa, where it can be reasonably assumed to refer to the Kingdom of Wakanda. Obliquely referred to in Captain America: The First Avenger (Cap’s shield is said to be made of Vibrainum, of which Wakanda is a major source). Wakanda is one of the most technologically advanced nations on Earth and the home of the heroic Black Panther, aka the King of Wakanda: T’Challa.
Outside of Wakanda, the Earth of Marvel comics is populated with dozens of exotic locations that can be the settings for the series, including the wretched hive of scum and villainy Madripoor, the rogue nation of Genosha, and Latveria, the tiny Baltic nation ruled by the iron fist of Doctor Doom (though due to rights issues, Doom himself can’t be mentioned).
The Avengers Have Scattered
At the end of The Avengers the heroes went their separate ways, ostensibly to set up their own movies. But the heroes themselves, or the trails they leave, could open up avenues for Coulson’s team to explore.
The effect that real heroes (with real powers), can have on society is potentially enormous (just look at New York), especially when considering what might happen when a God of myth makes himself manifest here on the Earthly plane.
And of course, when one of those wandering heroes is The Incredible Hulk, why you can just hear those mournful piano notes as Bruce Banner leaves another town he (and ‘the Other Guy’) left forever changed in his/their wake.
All Enemies Foreign, Domestic, Inter-Galactic and Pan-Dimensional
Good villains make great heroes, and if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to last they are going to need dozens and dozens of them. Luckily the Marvel Universe has a pretty deep bench of baddies to draw upon, some of which were all but designed with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in mind. Foremost among them would be the Zodiac Organization and Scorpio in particular for his special connection to S.H.I.E.L.D, or crime families like The Maggia.
The established Marvel Cinematic Universe has already laid plenty of groundwork for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to explore and not just when it comes to materials left over from the Loki-led Chitauri invasion. It wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to think that elements of HYDRA survived the end of World War Two or that the unscrupulous scientists of A.I.M. would continue their work after the end of Iron Man 3
Of course, the recent casting of a legit super-villain means the sky (or the show’s effect budget) is the limit.
That Whedon Touch
AKA The Touch of Death (and no, we don’t mean his propensity for early cancelation in recent years – we hope). It’s not to say that genre deity and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. creator takes that old writer’s adage, “Kill your darlings” literally, but it pays off to not get too emotionally attached to any one character.
However this program presents a special problem for Whedon and his creative crew because, well, Joss already played that card in The Avengers. Agent Coulson was heartbreakingly cut down by Loki and his death used as a rallying call to spur the heroes into action. Now the tables are turned, as the secret behind this ultimate deception must be kept at all costs lest S.H.I.E.L.D lose the trust of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
One can only speculate how this might limit Coulson’s role in the series, especially if his death has made him a martyr in the eyes of the public. Forget Thor, how would the 24-hour news channels react to being flat-out lied to?