Reviewed by Sam Robinson
Rated M. Airs Wednesdays at 8:30pm on the Seven Network
Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is unstoppable. After spending four years building up to the biggest superhero film of all time, 2012’s The Avengers, it appears there’s more money to be made, and a television series spin-off is the way forward. Surely with the Marvel Universe now cranking out two films per year (most ad breaks during the premiere featured spots for Thor: The Dark World) plus this new series, there must be some risk of over-saturation.
As a TV series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is actually pretty good. It’s not at the same quality as the films that preceded it, but there’s clearly still a big budget behind it and each episode (so far) has been crafted well by creators. It’s just a shame that every moment you start to settle in to this world of S.H.I.E.L.D., there’s a Stark name-drop, or a Thor hammer reference. Just in case you forgot, this is indeed a spin-off of a crazy successful franchise.
The series is based around familiar S.H.I.E.L.D agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who died in a pretty convincing manner in The Avengers but is now back from the grave and assembling a small team to investigate strange occurrences. Following on from the ‘Battle of New York’ there’s a much greater urgency to clamp down on abnormal activity and it seems Coulson’s team of young ragtags is the one to do it. It’s all very Men in Black, minus the goo. It’s never explained exactly why Coulson is alive, but brief mentions of ‘Tahiti’ in both eps hint that it might be a story arc waiting to be unravelled.
In Australia we got a double-episode premiere (and are now in line with the US) and seeing both together highlighted just how like many series, it’s running through the motions as things get established. The first episode introduced Skye (Chloe Bennet) a hacker who by the end of the hour is snapped up by Coulson to be part of S.H.I.E.L.D. The second episode featured the team heading to Peru to extract a ‘0-8-4’ – or, an artefact which is even worse than nuclear. Uh-oh.
Episode 1 = New Kid on the Block
Episode 2 = New Team Must Unite in Order to Escape Adversity
But while the team are young and haven’t quite gelled yet, they do need to start working together soon, for the sake of saving the world from alien threat. The Extremis that appeared in Iron Man 3 (remember the glowing red faces? Yep, that.) showed up in the pilot and I’m sure there’s stacks more weird alien enemies around the corner.
Like Coulson, Jesus unites us together as his people. In Ephesians 4:1-5, Paul writes:
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Because of our new identity in Christ which we share with our Christian brothers and sisters, we are called to live for him, and to unite with each other as we do it. And Paul goes on to write that Christ gives us gifts ‘to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.’ (Eph 4:12-13)
As the body of Christ, we are our own team with our own gifts and abilities. But unlike using them in alien combat, we’re given them to build each other up until we reach unity in the faith. The goal is becoming more like Jesus and helping each other to do that too.
I love the way Marvel have developed this world and I so want to see this show work. I do fear that it might become like other series that lose their way storywise (Heroes) but with Joss Whedon and friends at the helm, I have high hopes.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Wednesdays at 8:30pm on the Seven Network. You can catch up on the first two episodes at Plus7 (Australia only).