Movies & Television

Why Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a Disappointment

Dear Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s going to work between us. I tried, I really did, I gave you two and a half episodes to prove me wrong, but it’s clear to me now, we just aren’t compatible.

This post isn’t book related, but it is a review of sorts.

I had such high hopes for Agents of SHIELD, I really did. I love science fiction television. I love the Marvel franchise films. But SHIELD is tired. I knew it when I was watching the first episode, but as with all TV shows, I know the Pilot episode isn’t necessarily the best to go on. So I gave the second episode a go, and then attempted to watch the third.

The first episode was the cliched “let’s meet the team” episode, and it’s like the writers looked at a list of TV character tropes and pulled together a pretty cliched team of “specialists”.


the Action Genre Hero Guy




the Unintelligible and his Translator Buddy (one named Fitz, one named Simmons, but collectively called Fitz-Simmons)



the Watson




The most interesting is the Action Girl:


And, of course, there’s The Leader, Agent Coulson:


Or, in other words, they are a Ragtag bunch of Misfits.

The problem isn’t that they’ve gone with these particular tropes, it’s that they’re the same tropes as so many shows on the air, and the formula of the show is tried. It’s the same thing that Warehouse 13 did before them. And Sanctuary. And The X-Files. And even to a lesser extent Stargate SG-1. The formula?

Mysterious item is found/mysterious event occurs. Ragtag team is called in to investigate. Things go awry. Team bands together to come up with creative solution. Team solves problem, goes home, and laughs about it/bonds over it.

I don’t have anything against shows that use this formula. It’s like procedural cop shows, there’s nothing wrong about having a predictable formula if the characters or overarching story lines are worth it. But I’ll be honest, I couldn’t get through the third episode of SHIELD, because I could just see it all coming.  And the characters are just so cliched that it made the journey boring. If I’m wrong about the outcome of the story, please let me know and I’ll push through the rest of the episode to be proved wrong.

Maybe I’m most disappointed in the fact that this is a Joss Whedon project. He’s brought so many unique stories to the small and big screen. Marvel’s The Avengers [Assemble] was a LOT of fun. And I love Firefly. In fact, all of his shows offer something in terms of creativity, but not, in my opinion, SHIELD.

Instead of a monster-of-the-week formula, why not do something similar to Heroes? Yes, Heroes fell apart in its later seasons (mostly due to the Writer’s Strike at the time), but its first season was unmissable.

Yes, I know the last thing television needs is another failed attempt at a high-concept show, but do we really need to replace ambitious high-concept scifi with mediocre procedural-scifi shows? I’d rather not. Because going for cheap VFX and old stories is the best way to give science fiction television a bad name.

So Joss Whedon, please, please give us something fun! Something original! Something intense! Something with the spark and charm of The Avengers and Firefly and Buffy! I know you have it in you. I just hope it shows in the next two episodes, because if it doesn’t, you’ll have one less viewer.

Recommended reading:

Marvel’s Diversifying Problem: Screen Output Doesn’t Reflect Open-minded Comics from @vulture



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