Tag Archive: Agents of SHIELD


I haven’t posted in a while, because I’ve been buried under work. I certainly don’t lack for contracts to fill my spare time, but I’ve also been busy preparing my house for a kitchen remodel; I’m significantly handicapped, so that’s even more trouble than it might otherwise sound. I just haven’t had the energy for blogging.

However, today is Marvel Day. No, really; it’s not just that it’s when Captain America: Civil War is out in theaters, it’s also the day that I seem to have seen several MCU movies over the years. Not just the weekend, but the day, May 6th. Not sure how that’s happened, but it’s what my Facebook memory feed shows today. The coincidence gets eyebrow-raising with the fact that I didn’t even realize this when I’d made the decision to take today off.

But taking the day off also means that I have the time to write up my thoughts on this movie — spoiler-free, I might add.  Continue reading

It’s no secret that I have a love-hate relationship with Agents of SHIELD, a show I had high hopes for which turned into something I abandoned, continued with again because of a friend’s insistence, and then would have abandoned again if it weren’t for how it gives me stuff to blog about. (When I remember to update the blog, that is.)

I rarely try to suck up every single bit of information about shows that I can. Part of it is because I don’t have a regular TV-watching schedule, and so sometimes I wind up taking in several episodes at a time and would prefer to avoid spoilers. Sometimes I just don’t care. Sometimes it’s just that I’d rather take it in as the story itself, as it was meant to be viewed. It’s somewhat of a treat for me to do that, actually; well, if it’s a good story, that is. I honestly should write a blog post on an editor’s perspective of stories both published and in draft form, but suffice for now to say that it’s hard to not feel like I’m working.

With Agents of SHIELD, even when it stopped sucking, I was still working. Even when it was good enough that I could enjoy it, it was still short of something I could sit back and enjoy on its own, without being an editor the whole way through. That’s probably why I wrote so many articles about Agents, but not about Flash or Arrow.

Last night, the season premiere of Agents aired, and I enjoyed myself. I had to remember to pause to take notes every so often. Last season, I cautiously opined that this was starting to live up to the hype when the show was first announced; now, it is the show that they announced. And apparently all they had to do was say “Hey, X-Men is a cool story.”

Oops, I need one of those spoiler banners before I say stuff like that, right? It’s been all summer. I’m rusty.

Spoiler Warning

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MCU Expectations

In my review of Avengers: Age of Ultron, I said that I had some speculations that I decided to cut and turn into a separate blog post. It isn’t just about predicting future plots, but there’s some of that too.

We all know that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a blowout success. Even the shaky installments (we’ll ignore Agents of SHIELD season one for right now) have been “bad” only in comparison to the top material. It’s also been successful at introducing these long-beloved characters to new audiences who may have known nothing about them or their stories. That’s impressive all on its own, considering the depth of the Marvel Comics storylines, many of which go back half a century now.

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It started with Iron Man, which updated Tony Stark’s story to fit a modern audience’s expectation. A great deal of the success comes from Robert Downey Jr., of course. He’s the Tom Baker of not just the role, but the whole universe; and one of the best things about it is that he’s also aware of how close he came to outright disaster due to drugs and other self-destructive behavior, and I firmly believe that this fuels the way he throws himself into the role. Not only does he know what it’s like to completely doubt yourself, but he clearly sees each day as part of a second chance on life. Continue reading

Avengers: Age of Awesome

avengers-age-of-ultron-alternateWas there any doubt that Avengers: Age of Ultron would be a fun movie? Was there any doubt that the existing fanbase would love it? Was there any doubt that the movie would be a hit success? No, indeed. The only doubt was how good it would be on a scale of 6 to 11.

Rest your doubts. It’s at least a 10.9.

Note: This is not a spoiler-free review. However, unless you’ve been avoiding the trailers, you’re safe until you come to the big spoiler graphic. After that, you’ve been warned.

Superhero stories have traditionally been plot-driven. Things happen in a particular way to have a particular end, and that’s the only important thing. We all know how annoying that can be. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s horrible. However, the MCU has mostly stayed true to character-driven stories. There have certainly been ones where plot mattered more (Thor: The Dark World and Agents of SHIELD season one come to mind), and others where character and plot intertwined to the point where you don’t care that a story had to go this way to set up something later, because the characters still had their day (Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier).

Of course, character-driven stories aren’t automatically better, because character without consistent plot is unsatisfying. Think of Iron Man 3, which was a fantastic movie from the perspective of Tony Stark’s character development, and rather sucky for the rest.

The first Avengers movie remained a shining example of a character-driven story, as Ross explained earlier this week. My biggest worry about Age of Ultron was that it might not live up to that standard. In point of fact, I think Age of Ultron actually exceeds its predecessor in that regard. While the movie actually lacks a little of the stand-up-and-cheer of the first, Age of Ultron is now a new go-to example for true character-driven stories.  Continue reading

I’m just going to toss them all together today. It’s a superhero gumbo! Or a salad, if you prefer leafy things.

There’s a reason why I’m doing that. Well, two reasons. The one that has nothing to do with laziness is that Arrow, The Flash, and Agents of SHIELD all had a few things in common this week. They all dealt with stakes that have less to do with saving the world, and everything to do with their own humanity.

It’s necessary to up the stakes for a serial story, since if your characters always deal with the same problems then everything is boring. (Or it’s an American soap opera. Or a political election cycle. Or both. Hey, I live just outside DC; you can’t tell me it’s not like a soap based on The Godfather or something.) On the other hand, if you’re constantly upping the external challenges, then your character quickly becomes so powerful that threats start becoming rather ridiculous. That’s even more important if you’re like Superman and you wind up leveling Manhattan in your origin story.

I don't care if you call it "Metropolis." Who thought that an audience would find a climax involving massive buildings collapsing in New York City to be endearing?

I don’t care if you call it “Metropolis.” Who thought that an audience would find a climax involving massive buildings collapsing in New York City to be endearing? I mean, other than Zach Snyder. Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? 

The best way to solve that issue is through exploring human bonds between characters (even if some of them might not be human). As I said yesterday in my post on superhero prose, it’s important to never lose sight of human wants, needs, desires, things that an audience can understand. A massive battle is fun (well, in fiction), but it will never carry the same weight as the betrayal of a loved one. Done right, and the audience can feel a punch in the gut too.

However, from here on out, hic sunt mortiferis. That’s Latin for “If you haven’t seen this week’s superhero shows, you might want to check back later.”

Spoiler Warning Continue reading

Looking Ahead with the MCU

Agents of SHIELD has always had the potential to be the little show that connected the big things. Now, with Marvel getting more little things (that is, TV shows), we have even more opportunities to see the backdrop of the Marvel Cinematic Universe through the eyes of Coulson and his team.

Of course, the problem with that has been that Agents has, well, supremely sucked at doing that.

There are a few other factors, though, even if the writing on the show continues to improve. For one, Agents and Agent Carter (if the later ever gets renewed) are ABC properties. If the Netflix shows pan out the way Daredevil did (I really need to write up my review/analysis of that show!), then that “network,” so to speak, will wind up being stronger, which means ABC might not want to share. On the other hand, Marvel TV contracts reportedly all include the possibility of cinema appearances, while the reverse (cinema to TV) is not true.

What I hope is that Spider-Man will help bridge that gap. In the comics, he’s done plenty of team-ups with Daredevil, as well as the other coming Netflix characters. I’d like to see him show up in both Netflix and ABC shows. Problem is, I don’t know if Sony would think that’s a great idea.

For now, it’s hard to judge where Agents of SHIELD is going after this season. Which brings us inevitably to the Avengers: Age of Ultron tie-in, where reportedly we have multiple characters from the show popping up. Back when I first heard about it, I wasn’t impressed. Now, though . . . heck, even the supremely-boring Skye, of all people, has become interesting. I’ve gone from “How can they do an Agents cameo and make it look anything other than forced?” to “How can they do an Agents cameo and do the show justice?”

My, how things change.

For the rest, though, I need to get into some spoilers for the current season.

Spoiler Warning

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Agents of SHIELD has always been able to get me talking about writing. It’s nice that I still get that, and actual good TV now.

On the most recent episode, we finally find out why May is called “the Cavalry,” why the story is so garbled among SHIELD agents, and especially why May absolutely hates that term. As with many things in the show’s run, this didn’t need to wait so long. Half of the episodes between the premiere and the mid-season finale in December could have been cut or truncated. However, that doesn’t mean that the writers didn’t pick an excellent time to tell the story. That’s an important factor to consider when dishing out backstory.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading

Daredevil Now Live

11958118In case you hadn’t already marked your calendar, the new Netflix original Daredevil TV show is now live.

Yes, I’ll be reviewing it, but not for a little while unless I wind up reviewing chunks rather than the whole thirteen-episode season. (Yes, Netflix released them all at once. What did you expect? It’s Netflix. Binge-watching is encouraged.) While I’m down with particularly severe fibromyalgia symptoms for the third day in a row, which would make for a perfect time to binge-watch, I’m scheduled to watch it with someone else after work tonight. We probably won’t finish it this weekend.

But for those of you who are still sticking around and not clicking that oh-so-shiny link, let’s talk Daredevil for a bit.  Continue reading

Last night’s episode was a blast. For the first time since the first episode, I found myself actually interested in what was going to happen. And, spoiler-free, here’s what I thought.

I can trace it to two things. First, and most obviously, the writing has improved. The show looks like it’s finally getting away from Marvel Studios patting it on the head and saying “good job, now run and play and let the adults do adult stuff.”

The second is that I have to admit that Skye is finally a real person.  Continue reading

agents-of-shield 3I was glancing at Hulu last night and noticed that Agents of SHIELD was back. I hadn’t been paying attention. Agents, which had started out with a huge ad blitz and big promises, hasn’t been delivering. The supposed “shocking mid-season finale” was so ho-hum I kept hitting pause to do other stuff, my mind wandering too much to pay attention.

Agents was promised as part of the MCU, but its interaction with the movies has amounted to very tentative fan-fiction. Our most clear connections, other than Coulson himself, has been one episode to deal with Asgardians and a couple of cameos from Nick Fury. Even the focus on SHIELD and Hydra has been lackluster, and I haven’t really been feeling like they were entirely the same as what we saw in the movies. I’d had some hope last year when they finally got out of the twiddling-thumbs episodes for the Captain America 2 tie-in, but the self-contained story has been so completely timid — as if the writers are unwilling, or not allowed, to do anything that can make changes with the MCU — that the show is still only reacting to the movies and not being a full-fledged member of the franchise.

Agent Carter was different in this regard. While it ought to have had the harder role, since it’s set in the past with no way to truly break new ground, it proved to be far more creative and bold with its events. What happened in that first season has to have an impact on the MCU as a whole; Carter can’t simply be ignored. Agents of SHIELD, on the other hand, is eminently ignoreable. They’re the clean-up crew — literally, in the case of the Thor 2 tie-in-that-wasn’t last year.

It’s been such a disappointment, that I really don’t have any effort left to give. I really only watched the episode in the hopes that I might find something interesting to blog about. I fully expected more of the same-old, same old. What I found, instead, was a departure from the typical fanfic style. If I my hopes hadn’t been dashed so many times so far, I’d actually be excited about the style change. As it is, I’m “cautiously not-quite-as-pessimistic.”

For once, Agents of SHIELD has something new to offer. For once, the show has become proactive. Whether this will in turn affect the rest of the MCU, I don’t know, but if not then it will be due to gross negligence, because suddenly we have a new story to tell.

Spoilers after the break.  Continue reading

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