Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 1: Pilot



Marvel/ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. started last week and brings the Marvel Cinematic Universe to television. So how was it–and better yet, how is Agent Coulson still alive?

The series follows up after the events of the Avengers and they never explain how Coulson (still played by Clark Gregg) survived his apparent death. Three words: Life. Model. Decoy. Anywho, he has been reassigned to a super top-secret division of S.H.I.E.L.D. that even the Avengers have no idea about and he is investigating a threat called Rising Tide with a new group of agents. The rest of the first episode is spent with this new team trying to gel and stop a dangerous man who has been equipped with Extremis, as we last saw in Iron Man 3 this summer.

The show was pretty by the numbers and what you would expect from the debut of a new action/drama. Ultimately the agents put aside their differences and stop the villain, and Coulson gets to drive home in a hovercraft convertible sports car just like Jim Steranko would have drawn. It is a decent show that will probably get better, but to me it didn’t have the immediate “WOW~!” factor that Arrow did in its debut.

But what it does have going for it is how awesome Gregg is as an actor. He is awesome as the sarcastic normal person in this fantastic world. I also liked Cobie Smulder’s guest appearance as S.H.I.E.L.D. commander Maria Hill as well. With her primary gig on How I Met Your Mother coming to an end, it would be a safe bet to assume that we will see more of Hill in the next season.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is fine and I’m sure that it will get better. The challenge for them is to find that balance between the movies and finding their own identity as a series.

Marvel Blurs The Lines Between Film and Comics

We have all been used to watching comics influencing film, but now film is influencing comics continuity. Agent Coulson and the Samuel L. Jackson portrayal of Nick Fury (well sort of) have crossed over into the print world. So how did it happen?

The African-American version of Nick Fury goes back to Marvel’s re-imagined Ultimate universe in 2001, ultimately becoming based on Jackson in time for Mark Millar and Brian Hitch’s awesome Ultimates stories.

When they decided to introduce Nick Fury into the cinematic Marvel Universe, it was natural that Jackson would be playing the role of everyone’s favorite SHIELD director, much to the delight of everyone.

So how did the traditional Marvel Universe wind up with a black Nick Fury?

As a spin-off from the Fear Itself storyline, Battle Scars chronicles the adventures of Army ranger Marcus Johnson setting off to find the Nick Fury hating villain Orion from the Secret Warriors series who had killed his mother. This was an elaborate plot by the villain to lure out Marcus in an attempt to get his blood, which contains the same Infinity Formula that keeps Fury young.

By the end of Battle Scars, Marcus loses an eye and shaves his head to look like Samuel L. Jackson, dons Steve Rogers’ director of SHIELD costume he had while Bucky was Captain America and finds out the reason he has the Infinity Formula in his system–his mother was a spy, Fury is his father and his real name is Nick Fury Jr. Oh yeah, and his friend Coulson and him both wind up joining his father’s family business as agents of SHIELD!

So what do I think about this?

Well, I’m all for Agent Coulson being properly brought into the Marvel Universe. I love how they’ve been using Maria Hill and Viktoria Hand the last few years as non-super heroes working alongside their powered counterparts. If they keep him like the way Clark Gregg has portrayed him in the Marvel films, this will be awesome.

As for Marcus, I’m still having mixed thoughts about the execution of the character. I like how this adds an extra part to the Nick Fury mythology. He’s been around since World War II, so having him have a long-lost (more so neglected) son come into his life is an interesting dynamic. Him following into his parents’ career path makes sense.

The one thing that I’m not sold on is how they’ve made him look exactly like the Ultimate and movie versions of Nick Fury. It seems like it’s a huge burden in developing this character, as he’s going to be constantly compared to the other characters. I would have much rather enjoyed them calling him Marcus Fury and allowing the character to have its own identity, not to mention his own look not based on Samuel L. Jackson. They can keep the eye patch; there’s a certain humor that every Fury man winds up losing an eye.

Will they make Marcus replace his father as Nick Fury in the comics? Who knows. At the very least, I would love to see David Hasselhoff make a cameo as Fury’s father in one of the movies!