The US fall television line-up is out. Out of the new shows, there are some we’re excited about, some we’re curious to see, and others we couldn’t care less about. Then there’s Joss Whedon’s return to television: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The excitement surrounding this show is phenomenal.
Last Sunday we saw the teaser trailer. Then they released the full trailer on Tuesday. The teaser trailer blew my mind. The full trailer, however, left a little to be desired. Chin up, though… I’m going to keep the faith and give this extraordinary team of people a chance to impress me when the show airs. Here’s my list of why this show has the potential to be MEGA AWESOME.
1) Joss Whedon
Ok, call this an obvious reason if you like, but it has to be said. Some of the best television shows in history (if history were written by me) have been the brainchildren of this awesome fellow. Forget ‘auteurs’ only being for films, this guy puts his stamp all over everything he does. What is that stamp? Generally speaking, awesome, badass, totally independent, butt-kicking females with personality to boot, as well as amazing dialogue (witty, fun, and often cleverly pitched comedy to undercut serious, tense moments).
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly are the two obvious shows to point newbies to in the Whedon canon. Many people favoured Buffy‘s spin-off Angel (but I am not one of them) – while it has potential with the dark, noir-feeling LA detective scene – it centers around Angel, a character I never felt was worth a damn. Meanwhile, Dollhouse struggled to find its feet. I did enjoy it, but I see why it never took off in the same way (wiping our main character’s mind after every episode made character growth a little difficult). Not technically television, but if anyone is wanting to delve further into the Whedon depths, make sure you watch Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. You won’t regret it.
With Whedon having successfully tackled Marvel’s The Avengers, I’m confident he’s got this one in the bag. This man knows what he’s doing, but more importantly, he knows how to have a good time.
Alongside Joss on the list of writers for the show are two co-conspirators of his from Dr Horrible: his brother Jed and Jed’s wife Maurissa Tancharoen. Jed and Maurissa are a fantastic team with a score of great work already under their belts, including Dollhouse, Spartacus, Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, and Drop Dead Diva. Fear not, if these two carry on with the show, everything that you know and love about Joss just got ten times better.
Is there anyone cooler than Clark Gregg? The guy has been around forever but it wasn’t until his success with Marvel that he became a household name. He’s a writer, actor, and director – yep, one of those irritatingly talented people that has more than one skill. Gregg also has an in with the less geeky inclined, being married to Jennifer Grey of the ‘nobody puts Baby in a corner’ fame (Dirty Dancing, you heathens!). Agent Coulson is the epitome of cool – most of the time. His fanboy-esque relationship with Captain American made him endearing, and his down to earth, pleasant to work with demeanour makes you want to take him out for a cup of coffee. But what’s the most awesome thing about Clark Gregg being involved with S.H.I.E.L.D.? He loves being a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has spoken out a number of times about how excited he is to be a part of it. If those who are part of it love it, there’s more chance the finished product will be great.
4) An ensemble cast
What Joss Whedon has understood for a long time, is that great shows require great ensembles. Too many shows only bother to truly characterise and give dimension to the central characters. Not Joss. With him, no character gets left behind! If we didn’t learn to love the supporting characters, the stories wouldn’t have the same impact. Firefly was a brilliant ensemble piece and S.H.I.E.L.D. has the potential to be the same.
5) Regular people
What I have never loved about superheroes is the superpowers. This is usually what people like, but for me it limited my admiration of them. Superheroes have superpowers – they wouldn’t be fighting all that evil (or at least not doing well at it) if they didn’t have their superpowers. But what about the rest of the scoobie gang? Sure, Buffy could fight someone ten times her size, but could Xander and Willow (pre-Wiccan Willow anyway)? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., however, is focusing on the ‘regular’ folk who grow up wanting to be just as badass as those with superpowers – they just have to work a little harder at it. So… (in my dreams) I could potentially be one of these guys… you know, if I exercised or was really brainy.
6) The Marvel Cinematic Universe
Let’s ignore the pre-Avengers Hulk and talk Iron Man onwards… Marvel’s films have not only been incredibly successful, they’ve been really fun (ok, maybe we should also ignore Iron Man 2 for the sake of this argument). And as a result, they’ve been raking in the cash. This hasn’t made them take less risks though – they don’t seem to want to rest on their laurels. They took a rather big risk in hiring Joss for The Avengers, his only other major film being Serenity. What they saw in Joss was not only talent, but a passion for the subject matter. Marvel has proved again and again that while they want to make oodles of dough, they also love their characters and universe. From what’s come before, I can only expect the same greatness from future projects.
7) Seasonal story arcs
The ‘big bad’ seasonal story arc is seen all over television these days, but it wasn’t always this way. Remember back before Sky, before Tivo, even before VHS recorders… people often missed their favourite weekly television shows (life gets in the way sometimes). Television was therefore about singular, self-enclosed episodes that did not rely on the viewer having seen every episode in order to keep up with the story. As our technology vastly improved, so did the story arcs we saw on tv. And none did it better than Buffy.
While the Marvel films have been great, they are always limited by the time allotted for a feature film. Try as you might, there’s only so much characterisation that can happen in that time. But in television, you have entire seasons to work with. The universe you can build becomes immensely rich and rewarding for the viewers – we invest in those characters and stories more than we ever could in those that we see in the space of a film (or two or three). I am really looking forward to the Marvel universe being explored in a more in depth way, having villains with real motivation and personality, and heroes that can grow and change over a long period of time. Of course, all this depends on abc not axing the show prematurely (but they’ve learned from Fox, right?!).
Q. Why do you write strong female characters?
Joss Whedon: Because you’re still asking me that question.
Joss Whedon is a mega feminist. And good for him! Buffy was all about the helpless blonde high schooler being able to pack a punch. Those who were once helpless were empowered. He’s caught some slack for not being ‘enough’ of a feminist and has on occassion even been called a chauvinist, but I don’t believe that’s fair. Yes, he explores the negative (sometimes chauvinistic) attitudes some characters may hold against women, but he never endorses those. If he were only to present a feminist p.o.v. all the time, his stories would never be as interesting as they are.
What I personally like about Whedon’s feminism is that these women are often very attractive. That might sound strange, but one of my pet peeves is that supposedly ‘feminist’ stories feature unattractive women. Feminism should be universal for all women; tall, short, fat, thin, curvy, sexy, plain, and plain unattractive. But so many people seem to think that feminism is a brand of political activism that can only be applied to those who don’t fall into the ‘I’d like to fuck’ category. Well, I’m not ashamed to say that I like to see a badass woman who more than falls into the ‘I’d like to fuck’ category. And from the looks of things, Chloe Bennet is going to fit that role nicely.
9) Sci-fi finds its rightful place back on network television
Now that Fringe has finished, there’s not a whole lot of science fiction on network television. Some might count Arrow, but I don’t. Too many abs, not a whole lot of sense… In other words, it’s just plain awful. Sci-fi has always been a little too ‘fringe’ for mainstream, network television. Which is a real shame. Hopefully, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might actually be given enough time to really build an audience (and not be messed about with schedules and other such network bullshit that tends to kill shows before they even get a chance to find their feet). With Marvel’s pulling power and the proven money spinning ability of the films, we might actually get to see some sci-fi on our tellies for a good few years to come.
10) Joss Whedon saved us from the zombie apocalypse
Joss did his part to help secure our safe future. I like to think he won the last election for Obama single handedly.