It almost seems strange for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to be lumped in along with all the other upcoming ABC pilots, given that it's arriving as part of an enormous pre-existing story, and that it's sorta-kinda the follow-up to one of the biggest movies of all time. But at the Television Critics Association presentation yesterday, ABC had Joss Whedon out onstage as if he was any other TV producer, and then released some brand new images from the show, along with the poster you see above (via Coming Soon). It looks like your usual TV show poster with the cast standing there like they're in a police lineup. Except that's a superhero twist! Sort of. Maybe those glowing clouds are made of gamma radiation?

According to Variety, who were on hand for the TCA presentation, there's still a huge emphasis on secrecy ahead of the show's September 24 premiere, which helps explain the generic look of those images released (look, it's a bunch of people standing in a fancy office!) ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee said that the security team took away his iPhone when he was watching some footage from Marvel, and the show's executive producer Jeph Loeb said they're trying to bring some the "urgency" that surrounds big tentpole movies back to television:

“We’re trying to bring back the urgency of television. While we welcome you downloading it, DVRing it, wouldn’t it be great to get together Tuesday nights…and watch live?”

That "urgency" issue is a major one for every TV network, where they're competing with more forms of entertainment than ever and having a hard time convincing viewers to actually watch the shows at the appointed time, and not save it for later (with the added benefit of fast-forwarding through commercials). Recent hits like Scandal have benefited from Twitter-engaged audiences, eagerly talking about the show's plot developments in real time, and the huge online hype around The Avengers is an encouraging sign that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can do the same. Those of us who ran out to see The Avengers opening weekend to avoid getting spoiled about major plot developments (like, uh, Agent Coulson's supposed death) might be inspired to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. every Tuesday night so we're totally in the loop. Of course, that requires getting viewers to care as much about this new group of characters as they do about Captain America and the Hulk, characters who have existed for decades. That's the bigger challenge, and one nobody really knows if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has answered it yet.

Eric caught the pilot episode of the show at Comic-Con and wrote that "everyone brings something special to the ensemble," which suggests we might care about these characters as much as we care about Loki after a few episodes. Find out for yourselves when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. arrives on ABC this fall.

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