Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is an American television series developed by Joss Whedon, in collaboration with Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, based on the Marvel Comics organization S.H.I.E.L.D. The show is produced by Marvel Television, currently airing on the ABC network, and is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sharing continuity with the films in that franchise.
The series revolves around the character of Phil Coulson, with Clark Gregg reprising the role. A pilot, written by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen, and directed by Joss Whedon, was given the green-light in late 2012 and filmed in early 2013. The pilot was officially ordered to series on May 10, 2013, and premiered on September 24, 2013. On May 9, 2014, the show was renewed for a second season, alongside the new MCU show Agent Carter.
The first season sees S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson putting together a small team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases. They investigate Project Centipede and their leader, "The Clairvoyant", eventually uncovering that Project Centipede is backed by HYDRA, who has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. In the second season, after the destruction of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson and his team look to restore trust from the government and public, while dealing with the much more powerful HYDRA organization and the revelation of the Inhumans. This is complicated with the appearance of another faction of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, who do not trust Coulson, or the types of missions his team is performing. In the third season, HYDRA is still a threat much more influential with the leader of HYDRA; Hive who took on the body of Grant Ward. In the fourth season, following the defeat of HYDRA and signing of the Sokovia Accords S.H.I.E.L.D is legitimized too to the public with a new director since the public thinks Coulson is dead.
Cast and characters
- Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson: An agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who oversees many of the division's field operations. The character will headline the series. At the 2013 South by Southwest festival, Joss Whedon confirmed that Coulson is alive in the series, despite his apparent death at the hands of Loki in The Avengers. When describing his character's return from the dead, Gregg said, "When Joss described to me the mystery… and the complexity and the unanswered questions about Phil Coulson standing there trying to deal with this, I found it so fascinating and so true to the world of the comics and mythology in general as I understand them that I was immediately in.
- Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May: An agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who is an ace pilot and weapons expert. The character was originally listed with the name Agent Althea Rice (a.k.a. The Cavalry) on casting sheets.
- Brett Dalton as Agent Grant Ward: A gruff, asocial manly man in his early 30s who is great at his job but not so great at getting along with his coworkers. Ward has a strong moral foundation and is not without his charm.
- Chloe Bennet as Daisy "Skye" Johnson / Quake: An Inhuman activist recruit, described as "bubbly and goofy" but "also warm, edgy, and witty." She is in her late 20's and can more than hold her own in any situation.
- Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz: An agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who specializes in weapons technology.
- Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Jemma Simmons: An agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who specializes in life sciences (both human and alien) and is the close partner of Agent Leo Fitz.
- Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse: Hunter's ex-wife and an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who spent time undercover within HYDRA.
- Henry Simmons as Alphonso "Mack" MacKenzie: A S.H.I.E.L.D. mechanic with a distrust of the alien and superhuman.
- Luke Mitchell as Lincoln Campbell: an Inhuman S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and a member of the Secret Warriors.
- John Hannah as Dr. Holden Radcliffe: a former GT Agrochemical researcher whose theories and experiments on transhumanism got him fired from the company.
- Main article: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode list
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|1||22||September 24, 2013||May 13, 2014|
|2||22||September 23, 2014||May 12, 2015|
|3||22||September 29, 2015||May 17, 2016|
|4||22||September 20, 2016||May 16, 2017|
ProductionOn August 31, 2009, The Walt Disney Company announced that it was purchasing Marvel Entertainment for about $4 billion. Disney CEO Bob Iger said on a conference call that Disney intended to incorporate the Marvel properties across all of its media platforms, including television. In June 2010, Marvel announced that it had hired Jeph Loeb as president of Marvel Television, a newly created division of Marvel Entertainment.
In an interview the day after his appointment, Loeb stated that Marvel intended to continue producing animated television series, and that "there's a brand new division that we'll do with live action, where we're working in partnership with ABC and ABC Family to find the right properties, the right characters, and develop them. To start, we will be exploring the one-hour drama field similar to the shows that I mentioned that I've worked on, like Smallville and Lost." In the following months, various pilots based on comics from Marvel's catalog went into development, including AKA Jessica Jones, based on the comic book series Alias, and a series based around the Hulk, though none were given the green-light.
In July 2012, Marvel Television entered into discussions with ABC to do a new show set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though at that point it was undecided what the show would be. It was described as "'a kernel of an idea' with a number of scenarios being explored, including a high-concept cop show. In August 2012 it was announced that The Avengers director Joss Whedon, creator of cult hit shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, would be involved in the show's development. A few weeks later ABC ordered a pilot for a show called S.H.I.E.L.D.; the pilot was to be written by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen, directed by Joss Whedon, and executive produced by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Tancharoen, Jeffrey Bell, and Jeph Loeb. Jed Whedon, Tancharoen, and Bell will serve as showrunners if the pilot goes to series.
Joss Whedon stated that the show would be autonomous from The Avengers, saying "It’s gotta be a show that works for people who haven’t seen the Marvel movies. It will please Marvel fans, I think. In a September 2012 interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, Whedon reiterated that sentiment, going on to say "It's new characters. It needs to be its own thing. It needs to be adjacent [to The Avengers]... What does S.H.I.E.L.D. have that the other superheroes don't? And that, to me, is that they're not superheroes, but they live in that universe. Even though they're a big organization, that lack of powers makes them underdogs, and that's interesting to me. Whedon explained that while the show would involve people with powers and the spectacle of science-fiction storytelling, it would focus on "the peripheral people ... the people on the edges of the grand adventures.
In January 2013, ABC president Paul Lee said that the story takes place after the events of The Avengers. Filming of the pilot episode began on January 22, 2013 and concluded on February 11, 2013. On April 6, 2013 ABC announced that the show would be titled Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. On May 10, 2013, ABC announced that it had officially picked up the series. In Spain the series' premiere is the 11th of October of 2013.
In 2016, it was announced at the San-Diego Comic-Con the show would be renewed for a fourth season, featuring the popular character Ghost Rider. In December towards the mid-season finale the show would center on the Life Model Decoy 'Aida' as the main villain. It was also announced that a new digital series would be produced starting December 13, with the Inhuman agent Elena 'Yo-Yo' Rodriguez as the main focus.
In October 2012, a casting sheet for five lead roles was sent out. Later that month, at the New York Comic Con, Joss Whedon, Kevin Feige, and Clark Gregg announced that Gregg would be reprising his role as agent Phil Coulson in the series' pilot, and would "headline" the series. Toward the end of the month, actress Ming-Na Wen was cast as agent Melinda May. In November 2012, Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker were cast as agents Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz, respectively. Later in November, newcomer Brett Dalton was cast as agent Grant Ward. In December 2012, Chloe Bennet was cast as Skye, the sixth and final series regular. In January 2013, Cobie Smulders, who played agent Maria Hill in The Avengers, said that her character may make an appearance in the show and that her commitment to How I Met Your Mother would not prevent her from participating. J. August Richards, one of the stars of Whedon's 1999 series Angel, was also cast in the pilot, though his role was not specified.
CTV announced in June 2013 that they hold the broadcast rights for Canada, and the series debuted on September 24, 2013, being simulcast with the American broadcast. On August 22, 2013, it was confirmed that Channel 4 would air the show in the United Kingdom, and it premiered on September 27, 2013. In Australia, the show premiered on Channel 7 on October 2, 2013, with the broadcast of the first two episodes.
Before the premiere, the entire pilot was screened at San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2013, and was met with a very positive reaction from the crowd. Critically, the initial screening of the pilot was met with mostly positive reviews. As of September 28, 2013, based on the pilot, the first season has received positive reviews from some critics, and received a Metacritic score of 74 out of 100, based on 32 reviews.
IGN gave the pilot an 8.5 out of 10, saying it "quickly hits the right notes to firmly show how it exists on the ground level" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The New York Times Brooks Barnes felt the storyline in the pilot was hard to follow at times, and did not like the thick accents of De Caestecker and Henstridge. He also added that "what goes over well at Comic-Con does not necessarily work in the real world," especially on a network with "Scandal moms and Dancing With the Stars grandparents."
Entertainment Weekly's initial reactions felt that "if everything that made the show appealing—its continuity with Marvel Cinematic Universe, its continuance of the The Avengers storyline, and Whedon's return to television—was stripped from it, the show still worked. However, they also questioned if the show was accessible enough to attract a wider audience". Variety's Brian Lowry felt that the "pilot picks up where Avengers left off, but doesn't pack quite the same punch," adding that the banter "occasionally feels a little precious and clunky".
Jim Steranko, the artist and writer who worked on the "Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." comic books, was critical of the pilot episode, lamenting that "...the show had no menace, no tension." For the second episode, Steranko said that it was "...too unfocused to be satisfying," but praised Jackson's cameo as Nick Fury as "...an electrifying reminder of what the series could and should be."
In the United States, the premiere episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. earned a 4.7/14 rating in the 18-49-year-old demographic, with 12.12 million total viewers, making it the biggest network drama debut in four years. In the United Kingdom, the debut episode was Channel 4's biggest drama launch of the year, averaging 3.1 million viewers, or a share of 14.2 percent of people watching TV in the UK at the time. In Canada, the first episode premiered on CTV to 2.706 million viewers, earning the third highest viewership for the week on the network. The Channel 7 premiere in Australia was watched by 1.3 million viewers, the top show of the night.
In June 2013, the series was awarded, along with five other shows, the Critics' Choice Television Award for Most Exciting New Series. The episode T.A.H.I.T.I. got an Emmy nomination for best visual effects.
- Joss Whedon stated: "It's new characters. It needs to be it's own thing. It needs to be adjacent, but you don't want to do a show where you're constantly going, 'Iron Man just left, but he was totally here a minute ago.' You want them to do their own thing. What does S.H.I.E.L.D. got that the heroes don't have? To me, it's that they're not superheroes. But they live in that universe. Even though they're a big organization, that makes them underdogs and that's interesting to me."
- Joss Whedon talked about the tone of the series: "I’m excited about the show because it’s a very hopeful show. It’s not about murder, and it’s not about crime, and it’s not people looking into their own belly buttons. It’s about people who are trying to help each other, and that’s one of the things I loved about comic books. They had costumes and the villains were cool but they stood for something, and I like doing a show that does that. We’re trying very hard to be true to Marvel's ethos and also to the structure of their universe. So it is definitely a Marvel show."
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