Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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This article is about the television series. For a list of agents in the fictional organization, see List of S.H.I.E.L.D. members.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents of SHIELD logo
Genre
Created by
Based on S.H.I.E.L.D. 
by Stan Lee
Jack Kirby
Starring
Composer(s) Bear McCreary
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 22 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) Garry A. Brown
Editor(s) Paul Trejo
Cinematography David Boyd
Running time 42–45 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor Disney–ABC Domestic Television
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format 720p (HDTV)[2]
Audio format 5.1 surround sound[2]
Original run September 24, 2013 (2013-09-24) – present
Chronology
Related shows Marvel Cinematic Universe television series
External links
Official website

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or simply Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., is an American television series created for ABC by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen, based on the Marvel Comics organization S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), a fictional peacekeeping and spy agency in a world populated with superheroes and numerous supernatural phenomena. The series is produced by ABC Studios, Marvel Television, and Mutant Enemy[1] and is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sharing continuity with the films in that franchise. It revolves around the character of Phil Coulson, with Clark Gregg reprising his role from the film series.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was renewed for a second season on May 8, 2014,[3] which is scheduled to premiere on September 23, 2014.[4]

Premise[edit]

The series sees S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson putting together a small team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases.[5] In the first season, Coulson and his team investigate Project Centipede and their leader, "The Clairvoyant", eventually uncovering that Project Centipede is backed by Hydra, and they must deal with Hydra's infiltration of, and the destruction of, S.H.I.E.L.D. In the second season, Coulson and his team look to restore trust from the government and public following S.H.I.E.L.D.'s collapse.[6]

Cast and characters[edit]

Reprising his role from the MCU films Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Marvel's The Avengers, and the Marvel One-Shot short films The Consultant and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer,[7] Gregg headlines the series,[8] and has appeared in every episode. He was the first principal actor cast in the series.[7] Speaking of his character's resurrection after dying in The Avengers, Gregg said, "the mystery and the complexity and the unanswered questions about Phil Coulson standing there trying to deal with this, I found it so fascinating and so true to the world of the comics and mythology in general as I understand them that I was immediately in."[9]
Originally listed with the name Agent Althea Rice on casting sheets,[10] Melinda May was created by Joss Whedon, who "has had [the character] rolling around in his head".[11] Wen was cast in the role in October 2012.[12] In preparation for the role, Wen was "given a couple of background stories about her", but found it challenging to play a character who is respected by those around her, even though the audience doesn't know why, stating "It's a challenge in different ways. I think, at this point, I really am starting to know who she is and the stuff that I use to help me understand what could have happened to her to have brought her out of the field and into a desk job, I think we've all pretty much experienced that. So I use some of my own personal experience where we've been scarred or we've been greatly disappointed".[11]
"Relative newcomer" Dalton was cast as Ward in November 2012.[13] Talking about creating an original character, Dalton said "In some ways, originating gives you a kind of freedom because there’s not volumes of comic books behind you that you need to live up to." On working with the showrunners he said, "They’re really good at what they do. It feels like how real human beings talk. Also real human beings who have a sense of humor and a sense of humanity and heart. I had a feel for it as soon as I read it. I felt like okay, this is a full character. Because of Marvel’s super secrecy, we only had like three pages to read. We didn’t have a full script, but I felt like there was a full character there on the page. From the very beginning I thought I get this, I get this world and I’d really like to be a part of it."[14]
In December 2012, Bennet became the final primary cast member for the first season.[15] Concerning Joss Whedon's tendency for writing strong female characters, Bennet said "The best part about Joss casting and writing these sharp female roles is that he doesn't think it's a big deal, because it shouldn't be a big deal. The media attacks out when people write strong male roles, so why isn't something like that talked about when [there are] female roles. To him that's just obvious that it should be done, and that's what I love about it the most." Responding to a comparison between her character, Buffy, Faith, and Willow, Bennet said "I get that a lot! I guess people see the similarities, but I like to think that she is her own character and is going to be even more so coming up through the season, because it does get pretty crazy."[16]
De Caestecker was cast in November 2012,[17] and later said that "Fitz has got this funny kind of temper. He’s quite passionate about what he does. So those moments where – I don’t think he’s someone that really responds very quickly to emotion; he doesn’t really understand emotions as much, so when you do see that kind of side to him, I think it’s quite interesting."[18] Fitz has a lot of interaction with Simmons in the series, with De Caestecker explaining "My character, he’s Engineering, so he’s on the computer and tech side of everything. He’s consumed within that world, and he works very closely with Simmons, who’s Biochem. They’ve got this kind of weird chemistry together, and they just kind of fit each other in a very weird way."[19]
Henstridge was also cast in November 2012,[17] describing her character as "a biochem expert. She’s young and hungry and she’s a great woman to play because she’s intelligent and focused and curious and she doesn’t apologize for it. She’s got a wonderful relationship with Fitz. They kind of bounce off each other."[20] She also talked about the characters being separated, saying "That's interesting because then you see that they've never been without each other. When you see them without each other, that brings a whole new dynamic just to them as characters in discovering what it's like to have to be independent because this whole S.H.I.E.L.D. team has come together and everybody is on their own apart from Fitz-Simmons. We will get to see that and it's quite funny."[21]
Blood was announced as cast in the second season at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con,[22] and in September 2014, he was confirmed to be a member of the principal cast for the season.[23] The character has been described as not a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but a mercenary.[22]

Production[edit]

After The Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Entertainment in 2009,[24] they announced that a Marvel Television division was being formed.[25][26] In the following months, various pilots based on comics from Marvel's catalog went into development.[27][28]

In July 2012, Marvel Television entered into discussions with ABC to do a new show set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though at that point it was undecided what the show would be. It was described as "'a kernel of an idea' with a number of scenarios being explored, including a high-concept cop show."[29] In August 2012, it was announced that Marvel's The Avengers director Joss Whedon, creator of other popular television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, would be involved in the show's development.[30] A few weeks later ABC ordered a pilot for a show called S.H.I.E.L.D. to be written and directed by Joss Whedon, with Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen also writing. Jed Whedon, Tancharoen and Jeffrey Bell would act as the series' showrunners.[31][32] Disney CEO Bob Iger greenlit the S.H.I.E.L.D. series after watching the Marvel One-Shot short film Item 47, about S.H.I.E.L.D. agents pursuing a couple in possession of a Chitauri weapon used in the Battle of New York in The Avengers.[33]

In April 2013, ABC announced that the show would be titled Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.[5] and eventually officially picked up the series for a full season.[34][35] In July, Maurissa Tancharoen revealed on her Twitter page that Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Jeff Bell, Paul Zbyszewski, Monica Owusu-Breen, Brent Fletcher, Lauren LeFranc, Rafe Judkins and Shalisha Francis would be the writers for the series.[36] Additionally, composer Bear McCreary confirmed that he would compose music for the series.[37] Bell, Jed Whedon and Tancharoen supervise all creative decisions, with Joss Whedon assisting as well before starting work on Avengers: Age of Ultron.[38] Bell explained the writing process, saying "While one person is writing a script, I can have two of us break other stories so I can have, in theory, a story broken every couple of weeks. That’s the only way we can get ahead of the production train, because we shoot a new episode every eight days. If there’s a story that I, Jed and Maurissa like we say ‘Yes,’ that writer goes off and writes their outline, we give them notes, they write a script and then we send this to network and get their notes, then get production feedback on what we can and cannot do, that writer then goes off and is on set producing the episode".[38]

The main recurring setting for the series is the Bus, a retrofitted Boeing C-17, that serves as both the transportation and headquarters of the titular team. The Bus includes such features as a soundproof interrogation room, a forensics and research lab located on the lower deck, where Fitz and Simmons work, and a cargo hold directly outside the lab where the team parks its SUV and Lola, Coulson's prized Chevy Corvette.[39] Filming for the series takes place in Culver City, California, while the main visual effects for the series are done by FuseFX,[40] with additional help from CoSA VFX.[41] Additionally, Industrial Light & Magic shares assets from the films to ensure consistency across the properties.[40]

Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-ins[edit]

In July 2013, Jed Whedon said the series will work in tandem with the Marvel films, both past and upcoming, saying, “We plan on trying to weave in between the films and try to make them more rewarding on both ends.”[42] In March 2014, the producers stated at the show's PaleyFest panel that they and the writers are able to read the screenplays for upcoming MCU films to know where the universe is heading, which allowed them to form a general plan for the show through the end of a third season, should the show be renewed for such.[43] In September 2014, Bell explained the process of working on a show set in the MCU that was established by the film: "Marvel is complicated in that we’re part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and so after [running something by Jeph] Loeb we’ll run it through New York, Joe Quesada, Dan Buckley and those guys. We pitch our stuff to Kevin Feige and his movie group to see if there’s something we can tie into, to see if they’re okay about us using a character, or a weapon or some other cool thing. Everything is interconnected, and that’s really what we have to pay the most attention to. It’s challenging but fun as we try to lace some Easter egg in, something that ties into a movie or, if not, at least the comics so fans can find those little things that nobody else knows about."[38]

The series' first tie-in episode with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in the episode "The Well", which takes place after the events of the 2013 film Thor: The Dark World.[44] A second tie-in takes place revolving around the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier,[45] in the episodes "End of the Beginning" and "Turn, Turn, Turn",[46] which eventually lead to a retooling of the show for the final episodes of season 1.[47] Beginning with "T.A.H.I.T.I.", all episodes leading up to The Winter Soldier crossover were part of a series of episodes dubbed "Uprising".[48] For the second season, Tancharoen stated the production team was not ruling out creating crossover episodes with Agent Carter or Guardians of the Galaxy, with Whedon adding that any such episodes would not equal the scale seen in the The Winter Soldier crossover, saying, "In terms of game-changers, [those episodes are] hard to beat."[49]

Casting[edit]

In October 2012, Clark Gregg was the first principal cast member announced for the series, reprising his role as Phil Coulson.[7] Over the next two months, Ming-Na Wen was cast as Melinda May,[12] Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker were cast as Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz, respectively,[17] Brett Dalton was cast as Grant Ward[13] and Chloe Bennet was cast as Skye, rounding out the principal cast for the first season.[15] All returned as principal cast members for the second season, and were joined by Nick Blood as Lance Hunter.[22][23]

Release[edit]

Broadcast[edit]

The series has been licensed in 155 countries and territories.[50] It originally premiered on September 24, 2013. CTV announced in June 2013 that they hold the broadcast rights for Canada,[51] and the series debuted alongside the American broadcast.[52] On August 22, 2013, it was confirmed that Channel 4 would air the show in the United Kingdom,[53] and it premiered on September 27, 2013.[54] In Australia, the show premiered on Channel 7 on October 2, 2013, with the broadcast of the first two episodes.[55][56]

Home media[edit]

The complete first season was released on September 9, 2014, on Blu-ray and DVD. Bonus features include behind-the-scenes featurettes, audio commentary, deleted scenes, a blooper reel, as well as the television special, Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe.[57]

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

Season Episodes Originally aired Nielsen ratings
Season premiere Total viewers
(in millions)
Season finale Total viewers
(in millions)
Average total viewers, inc. DVR
(in millions)
Rank 18–49 rating/share (rank)
1 22 September 24, 2013 (2013-09-24) 12.12[58] May 13, 2014 (2014-05-13) 5.45[59] 8.31 43 3.0/9 (20)[60]
2 22[61] September 23, 2014 (2014-09-23)[4] TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD

In the United States, the premiere episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. earned a 4.7/14 rating in the 18–49 year old demographic, with 12.12 million total viewers,[58] making it the biggest network drama debut in four years.[62] Though the series debuted to strong ratings against its competition, NCIS, its ratings declined considerably over the following two months, though it remained Tuesday's top show among men 18–49, and overall was the No. 3 show among upscale young adults behind Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory. It also enjoyed DVR recordings that, according to TV Guide, were "through the roof".[63]

In Canada, the first episode on CTV, which premiered with the United States, saw 2.706 million viewers, earning the third highest viewership for the week on the network.[64] In the United Kingdom, the debut episode three days later on Channel 4 saw the biggest drama launch of the year,[65] averaging 3.23 million viewers including the +1 channel and recordings viewed the same night, or a share of 14.8 percent of people watching TV in the UK at the time.[66] The Seven Network premiere in Australia on October 2, 2013 was watched by 1.3 million viewers, the top show of the night.[56] In New Zealand, the first episode premiered on February 16, 2014 to 326,790 viewers, the fourth highest show of the night, and the most watched show on TV2.[67]

Reviews[edit]

Before the premiere, the entire pilot was screened at San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2013, and was met with a very positive reaction from the crowd.[68] Critically, the initial screening of the pilot was met with mostly positive reviews. As of September 28, 2013, based on the pilot, the first season has received positive reviews from some critics, and received a Metacritic score of 74 out of 100, based on 32 reviews.[69] IGN gave the pilot an 8.5 out of 10, saying it "quickly hits the right notes to firmly show how it exists on the ground level" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[70] The New York Times' Brooks Barnes felt the storyline in the pilot was hard to follow at times, and did not like the thick accents of De Caestecker and Henstridge. He also added that "what goes over well at Comic-Con does not necessarily work in the real world," especially on a network with "Scandal moms and Dancing with the Stars grandparents".[71]

Entertainment Weekly's initial reactions were that if everything that made the show appealing—its continuity with Marvel Cinematic Universe, its continuance of the The Avengers storyline, and Whedon's return to television—were stripped from it, the show would still work. However, they also questioned whether the show was accessible enough to attract a wider audience.[72] Variety's Brian Lowry felt that the "pilot picks up where 'Avengers' left off, but doesn't pack quite the same punch," adding that the banter "occasionally feels a little precious and clunky."[1]

Jim Steranko, an artist and writer who worked on 18 of the Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. comic books between 1966 and 1968, was critical of the pilot episode, lamenting that "the show had no menace, no tension."[73] For the second episode, Steranko said that it was "too unfocused to be satisfying," but praised Jackson's cameo as Nick Fury as "an electrifying reminder of what the series could and should be."[74] In contrast, Steranko's opinion of some later episodes in the first season were more positive, congratulating the writer and director of "The End of the Beginning" for "finding an entertaining, bravura groove that finally brings the concept to life",[75] and saying of the next episode "I was concerned that last week’s bravura transformation was only a fluke, but it was apparent from the opening moments that the exec lineup’s new image-and-edit policy was in play."[76] Overall, however, he found season 1 to be "22 episodes of 'sanctified' plot and character crumbs being salted with terminally-sluggish velocity (into anemic 'standalone' stories)".[77]

Awards[edit]

In June 2013, the series was awarded, along with five other shows, the Critics' Choice Television Award for Most Exciting New Series.[78] In September 2013, it was named "The Most Promising New Fall Series" by the Television Critics Association.[79] The show received two nominations at the 40th People's Choice Awards, for Favorite New TV Drama, and Ming-Na Wen was nominated for Favorite Actress in a New TV Series.[80] The series was nominated for Best Network Television Series at the 40th Saturn Awards.[81] For the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, the series received a nomination for Outstanding Special and Visual Effects.[82]

Other media[edit]

Comics[edit]

In July 2014, Marvel Custom Solutions and Lexus announced a custom comic, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Chase #1. The comic shows a never before seen mission, taking place after the season 1 episode, "Seeds". Jonathan Rheingold, Vice President of Marvel Custom Solutions said, "Lexus, Marvel and the team behind Marvel’s Agents S.H.I.E.L.D. collaborated to create a backstory to the TV series that has utter continuity with the show, and offer existing fans exclusive content".[83]

Also in July 2014 at San Diego Comic-Con International, Marvel Comics announced the ongoing series titled S.H.I.E.L.D., which will be set in the mainstream Marvel Universe (also known as Earth-616). The series will be written by Mark Waid and art by a rotating group of artists including Carlos Pacheco, Alan Davis and Chris Sprouse beginning December 2014. The series is led by Agent Coulson, and will see the canonical introduction of characters that originated from the television series, to which Waid said, "This is our chance to introduce a lot of the other characters into the Marvel Universe, and give them the Marvel Universe spin." Waid described the series as "done-in-one. Coulson and his team have a mission, and if we need someone for a mission, everyone in the Marvel Universe is available as a potential Agent."[84][85]

References[edit]

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General references

External links[edit]