The following review was posted after a screening of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at Comic-Con in San Diego last July.
The panels at Comic-Con are always full of awesome surprises, from unexpected guests to major announcements, and today the team behind Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fully delivered. After the cast, writers and producers of the new show were brought out during a presentation this afternoon in the San Diego Convention Center’s Ballroom 20, audiences went absolutely nuts when it was revealed that the event would serve as the world premiere of the series’ pilot. And that excitement never dissipated in the slightest, as the show delivered the level of entertainment we have come to expect from Marvel Studios.
The episode begins as the experienced Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) is brought back to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters after a successful mission to both be promoted to Level 7 – joining the resurrected Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) – and take on a new assignment following a man who appears to have some kind of super powers (J. August Richards). Enlisting the help of Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), an agent who refuses to go back into the field for some mysterious reason; Skye (Chloe Bennett) a hacker operating under the name Rising Tide who tries to uncover every secret S.H.I.E.L.D. has; and the team of Fitz and Simmons (Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge), who work in bio-chem and engineering, they go on the hunt for the mystery man and try to figure out who he really is.
Since the show was announced, we’ve wondered how exactly Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would mesh with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and while the pilot doesn’t feature Iron Man, Thor, Captain America or Hulk, the connection to the larger world should elate fans. Not only does the series feature Gregg’s Agent Couson as one of the key lead characters, Cobie Smulders reprises her role as Agent Maria Hill from Whedon’s The Avengers, a bit of Chitauri technology from the 2012 blockbuster makes an appearance, and even a part of the plot of Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 is a crucial part of the plot (though I won’t be spoiling how, as it’s one of the episode’s coolest reveals).
As fun as the nods to the preexisting titles in the MCU are, what makes the show really exciting is how much they are adding to the universe. Of the new characters introduced to the world, there is no obvious weak link, as everyone brings something special to the ensemble. Agent Ward is a solid straight-man to the occasionally goofy Agent Coulson; Melinda May is a kick-ass enigma who I look forward to learning more about; and Skye is an arrogant, entertaining fly in the ointment. In terms of development, the only characters that get the somewhat short end of the straw in the pilot are Fitz and Simmons, but there’s some great potential in them and plenty of time for them to grow as the series continues.
If a pilot’s job is to both establish the world that a show exists in and make audiences excited for episode two, then it’s hard to find anything to complain about in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. With an awesome ensemble of characters, some great action, and strong ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that will make fanboys everywhere smile, it’s hard not to be psyched for what they have in store for us next.