Welcome to Level 7.
Usually I save my big reviews for films…not TV shows. But last night was a very big occasion not only for Television, but for all fanboys around the world. For the first time in history…we had a comic book based live action televisions show (I could just stop right there and be impressed) … debut on a major network that is…yes…IS canonically connected a film franchise.
Littered throughout the pilot episode of SHIELD was references to all the major players in the Marvel films. Tony Stark was named dropped, Thor was talked about, Hulk was brought up, Captain America and his super solider serum, Black Widow was used as the measuring stick towards all other combative agents…and even more impressively, one of the key elements and plot points of this summer’s Iron Man 3, played a role in the very first episode of SHIELD.
Besides an opening cameo appearance by Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, the true core of the team we are introduced to is headed by fan favorite and death beater, Agent Phil Coulson played greatly by Clark Gregg. We are given what seems like a lame excuse for Coulson’s resurrection at the start of the film, but a quick line turns that on its head in a split second. We are now under the first tease and storyline to be followed up about…what REALLY happened to Phil Coulson to bring him back to life?
The rest of the team consist of a pilot with fighting skills in Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), a scientific pairing of Agents Leo Fitz and Jenna Simmons (Iain De Casestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge), glorified hands on combat Agent Grand Ward (Brett Dalton) and a civilian that is newly recruited to join the team for her expert hacking abilities, Skye (Chloe Bennet).
So how well does Joss Whedon and co. do in adapting a live action series without the budget of a Hollywood blockbuster? … actually very well. There are some big action moments in the first episode and separating them as usual with any Whedon TV project is a lot of character development. You will never say that a Whedon project is left with one dimensional characters, from the get go, we learn not only everything we need to know for the core group of Agents, but also a little backstory and idea of where they can develop into the future.
Most importantly…Extremis. The key plot point of Iron Man 3, is also the key plot point of this pilot episode. We are introduced to what we think is a new “hero” early on, but only to find out this Michael Peterson is nothing but a down on his luck average Joe that put his body on the line for experimentation with a mysterious group. We are given the term “Centipede Project” which is enough mystery to make us wonder who else has been part of this project. But what is really deep inside of Michael Peterson that makes him super strong and heroic…is a vile dose of Extremis.
Without the likes of Iron Man, Hulk, and the rest of the Avengers, how well do our new group of SHIELD agents do in taking down their first perp as a team…pretty well. It isn’t just as simple as a man that turns bad and has to be killed…its so much more. Its about an average person who has had nothing but bad luck on his side and thinking with help and a good spirit he can be a hero like the ones he has seen on TV. Its that idea that makes me love this show from the start, because everyone wants to be that hero at some point in their life. Agent Culson doesn’t have a suit of armor, a serum running through is veins, and isn’t a god of mythical perorations. Agent Culson is just a man. A man with a goal, a man with a sense of humor, and more important a man with a heart and that is why he is who he is and why his “death” was important enough to make a group of heroes come together and fight…for a normal man.
I can’t wait for next week’s episode.
I give Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D a NINE out of TEN, on the merit of great writing and exciting action.