Warning: Possible Spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s The Avengers, and possibly a few comics. You have been warned.
A full trailer for Marvel and ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series premiered this week. The series – starting fall 2013 – features Agent Phil Coulson of the Marvel movie fame (reprised by actor Clark Gregg) and some younger S.H.I.E.L.D. agents dealing with various super-powered incidents. The series also stars Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, and – at least in one episode – J. August Richards playing a maybe-but-not-confirmed Luke Cage.
From this trailer, we’ve learned two key points of the series in its relation to the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe – the Marvel films made in line with Marvel’s The Avengers.
- Agent Coulson is alive after is questionable fate in Marvel’s The Avengers.
- This series takes place AFTER Marvel’s The Avengers.
I’ve heard the argument lately that Coulson’s rise from the supposed dead has taken the wind from the sails of the series and it’s dramatic potential. The argument is that Coulson’s not-death has rendered real-death meaningless, that all fan-favorite characters have the same immortality as the main titular ones. Sure, Iron Man or Captain America won’t die, but neither will their comrade in arms of lesser fame whose death gives them their final push to beat the bad guy and save the day. If they can’t die, then what about the damsel in distress, or the cute kid sidekick, or even the big bad itself everyone fawns over (looking at you, three-peat Loki).
What dramatic suspense is there when anyone with enough fan following gets a pass from the Grim Reaper?
Maybe I’ve been reading comics for too long (LIES!), but a character returning from death alone isn’t enough to faze me out of the story. We comic fans have gone through this time and time again. Superman, Jean Gray, all the X-Men, Jason Todd, Batman, Captain America, Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, Bart Allen, Norman Osborn, Spider clones, and more than I can count. DC’s 2009-2010 Blackest Night crossover comic and event is a huge joke on the premise of comic book characters returning from the dead.
Some returns from the dead are good, and some aren’t. It all depends on the story. Is it well written? Does the return make sense? Is the emotional impact still valid? If it’s still a good story, and if the original death story maintains its emotional impact, then bring it on.
Admittedly, the premise is a difficult one to pull off, but it can be done. For example, I really enjoy the (currently on Netflix) DC animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood (NOT the original comic version). The return from death is also a premise that shouldn’t be used too often, just as overplaying any story trope can kill that trope’s effectiveness.
Now let’s return to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Coulson. Given some of the suspicious aspects of the character’s ending in Marvel’s The Avengers, and my faith in Whedon’s storytelling, I don’t expect to be disappointed in the explanation of Coulson’s coming to be in this series. As long as it’s written and pull off well enough, I look forward to the everyman Agent Coulson character returning. Plus, I wouldn’t put it past Whedon to bring him back just to kill him again.
In the end though, anything’s better than a Superboy Prime reality punch…
Was there a character whose return from the dead you thought was handled well? Handled poorly? Why?
Are you looking forward to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this fall? Why or why now?
Recommended Viewing: Max Landis’ The Death and Rebirth of Superman
I envy those people who had the spare 13 hours this weekend to power through Netflix and Kevin Spacey’s new House of Cards show.
I’m over halfway through the Netflix original series, starring Spacey as a U.S. Congressman hellbent on obtaining political power and ruining those who cross him. Everything about the show is well done, from the cinematography and setting to the acting and writing. Spacey though far and away steals the show from an already capable cast, with his penetrating and smirking asides to the viewing audience giving goosebumps.
This isn’t a review though. I’m only halfway through this first season of 13 episodes. That’s seven episodes since it premiered three days ago, on February 1. How? Because Netflix premiered all 13 episodes at once. No week-to-week waiting. No forced anticipation. You, the viewer, can watch all at once or at your own leisure.
Like I said, I envy those who had the time to finish already.
Netflix, to me, feels very reminiscent of TNT, AMC, USA, FX, and such in their earlier years, where they lived on syndicated shows from other networks long enough to begin their own quality original dramas. It’s the Law and Order and Buffy reruns that lead to Mad Men, Burn Notice, Justified and more. Netflix, and its streaming contemporaries, are at this very same transition. Netflix has this and the upcoming Arrested Development revival. Amazon supposedly has a Zombieland television series in the works, which has me excited.
Even YouTube is fostering the original content game, with its promotion and funding of original YouTube channels over the past year. Even outside of that, creators are bringing prime-time quality series to the service popular from cat videos, with the case-in-point of H+: The Digital Series, produced by Bryan Singer of X-Men fame and about implanted technology gone awry.
You could call me a cord cutter, one who discarded cable television, but that makes it sound more of a proactive choice than it was. Every time I move, my roommates and I just decide not to hook up cable. We get all we need from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, with the occasional exception (*CoughDoctorWhoCoughNewsroomCoughGameofThronesCough*). I’ve got enough shows and films in my Netflix Instant Queue to keep me busy for months.
This is a good time for original web series, and all that I’ve said above merely scratches the surface of original television series not on television. However, the traditional tube top isn’t going away any time soon. Regular broadcast television is still going to be here for a while. Bulk cable packages aren’t making way for a la carte channel selection as quickly as people would like. When will HBO offer a streaming-only option? No time soon as long as cable providers cut them breaks on advertising and carrying fees.
We still have a ways to go before HBO and its like can break free from the reigns of cable providers. I’ll have to sit on my hands awaiting for my Game of Thrones fix, but that’s fine since I’ve got House of Cards to keep me entertained.
(Besides, I’ve already read to book five in Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire)
Do you watch television online? How about original web content? Any favorites?