Somehow, some way, the folks over at Poptimal got their hands on the pilot episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and they put up one heck of a review. Just a heads up, there may be spoilers for the show, but I feel pretty good after reading it. Its a straight forward review that tackles it objectively and not subjectively, and I respect that. You can check out their review on their site, but if you keep scrolling you’ll find the entire review posted here too. Enjoy!
Just to clarify, this is not ComicUI’s take on the movie and this is not our review.
[hero tagline=”First Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”]Whether you are a fan of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Angel, or Dollhouse, one thing is clear, director Joss Whedon’s ability to create ensemble casts is second to none–and after the box office success of The Avengers, Whedon returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe looking for another hit with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Whedon has managed to deliver one of the best pilots of the fall season.
What is S.H.I.E.L.D?
“We are the line between the world and the much weirder world,” Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) responds when asked what S.H.I.E.L.D (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division) means to him. “We protect people from news they aren’t ready to hear and when we can’t do that, we keep them safe.” A lot has changed in the Marvel world since the events of The Battle of New York at the end of The Avengers. While Iron Man 3 skimped on the impact and aftereffects of the Chitauri alien invasion, S.H.I.E.L.D. delves into the ramifications.
The existence of other superheroes outside of Iron Man is now public knowledge. Scavenged alien technology is experimented on or sold on the black market. An anonymous hacker group known as The Rising Tide aims to reveal the truth S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to keep from the public. A combination of these events ultimately sets up the events of the first episode.
The pilot opens in East Los Angeles, where viewers are first introduced to unemployed, single father Michael Peterson (J. August Richards). When a nearby building explodes, Michael dons his hoodie and rescues a woman trapped inside the burning building. When the cellphone cameras of the bystanders capture the daring rescue, the world believes they’ve found a new superhero. Unfortunately for Michael, the videos get the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as Skye (Chloe Bennet), a member of The Rising Tide, who manages to see his face after his daring rescue. Agent Grant Ward is brought in by S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Maria Hill (Colbie Smulders) to recruit Ward for Coulson’s new team. That’s right, Coulson lives! But more on that later.
In order to track down the hooded hero, Coulson (Clark Gregg) puts together a specialized mobile team – Agent Grant Ward, Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). With the help of Skye, who is brought in by Coulson, the agents are able to learn more about Michael; how he got his powers and the threat he poses if gone unchecked.
“Wait, Coulson died in The Avengers,” you cry! “Loki stabbed him!” One answer everyone is looking for in Coulson’s revival is answered, but much mystery hangs over the details of his return. Since what Coulson believes is the truth may not even be correct, this is one answer that won’t be found in the series’ pilot episode.
Is it more of a Marvel show or a Whedon show?
Whedon has found the perfect balance of Marvel and his trademark witty dialogue with S.H.I.E.L.D. The world is very Marvel, with callbacks and references littered throughout the episode, but the dialogue and ensemble delivers everything you love about Whedon.
Do I have to watch all the Marvel movies to understand what’s going on?
Watching the Marvel movies is not a requirement to understanding Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I recommend having at least watched The Avengers. Those who have seen everything up to Iron Man 3 will have a more rewarding experience as they’ll be able to pick up on all the references the show has to offer.
Clark Gregg has not skipped a beat when it comes to Phil Coulson. Not only is he cool, collective, and witty, Gregg makes you want to trust every word that comes out of his mouth. Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge have a fantastic chemistry as Fitz and Simmons. The back and forth, fast paced bickering and their mannerisms will easily make them fan favorites. Without a doubt, the best performance of the pilot is brought by J. August Richards–he delivers a final monologue that is easily the most memorable moment of the episode.
One of my favorite bits of the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot was the imagination and creativity put into the gadgetry used by the agents. Whether it’s a cloth used to lift fingerprints, a tray that sees through walls, hologram 3D mapping, or Fitz’s remote controlled drones named after the seven dwarves in Snow White, the tech just feels cool, imaginative, and believable.
While I enjoyed majority of the episode, S.H.I.E.L.D. it is not without faults. Witty dialogue deflates the brilliantly built tension in many scenes, which gets frustrating and leaves the viewer feeling vaguely let down. An example is a scene (from the trailer) when Skye warns Michael about SHIELD. Instead of taking her seriously, we get a witty line about whether or not he should actually carry a shield. I have no problem with these types of jokes, but when they occur way too often it becomes an issue of focus. The resolution for the biggest issue the agents face is swiftly handled without a follow up–we get handed a solution, but without no explanation on how it was reached it feels a little like Whedon ran out of time and decided wrap up the episode. The thing is, we want to know what went in to putting it together.
With a strong cast and smart script, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. delivers a smart, action-packed thrill ride.
Grade – 9.0[/hero]