Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. shows that Marvel's plan is still to embrace the light... and it's still working

Spoilers for S1E1 of Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. contained herein.


Whilst Breaking Bad - a show one twitter follower described to me as ‘the long haul destruction of the family unit by pride’ was ending - Marvel were launching Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. into the world, like an innocent bald-headed baby, sans brimmed hat.

TV these days has enough darkness to cause the illusion of a power outage. Darkness is fashionable, daring and attractive. It makes for a good watch and a better analysis and it’s in stark contrast to the days where TV seemed so empty as to make an episode of Eastenders the ‘TV event of the year’.

The most notable thing about Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is that it doesn’t conform to TV’s dark obsession. Like a lot of Marvel’s output, S.H.I.E.L.D., a title conceived to make every copy editor’s daily typing as difficult as possible, embraces the light. It’s joyous, funny; frivolous even. The pilot may come to a sudden stop with a man being shot in the head but hey, don’t worry, he’s not dead, and there’s a floating hover car a few moments later, just to redress the balance.

This doesn’t appear to be a series concerned with anti-heroes and shades of goodness, though a cameoing Cobie Smulders telling us that a returning Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) can ‘never know’ about his past hints that there’s at least something in the works which might not make his return to our screens as cheery as it first appears. For the most part though: the guys from S.H.I.E.L.D. are good, a shady group on the fringes of this first episode are bad. Complicated, this isn’t.

Elsewhere, the most complex thing about the series is Chloe Bennet’s airy hacker Skye, who can’t quite decide whether she wants to be a part of the establishment or fight against it, until, it seems, supercool Phil whisks her off in that car, a moment a little too stupid even for this series’ superhero-inflected standards.

Even more airy than Skye, the dubiously titled Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) are borderline annoying; lab geeks given too much licence to be cute.

The substance is held down by Coulson and deputies Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) and Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), the former this series’ cherry picked square-jawed hero, though even he gets plentiful laughs, mainly during a scene when Phil shoots him full of truth serum. Wen’s serious pilot comes with a loaded backstory the first episode does a good job of hiding and the presence of her acting talents lends Caulson’s band some much needed substance. Her alliterative character name is a moniker desperate for a superhero alter ego, if ever there was one.

The only thing missing from one the most purely entertaining hours of television in a long time is an appearance from one of Marvel’s more established characters. Convincing Robert Downey Jr to do his shtick on TV would perhaps prove difficult but if HTC managed it, maybe Marvel can too. Here’s hoping for that in future episodes, in a show that embraces the light and finds that it too can be quite entertaining.



By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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