So tonight was the series premier of Joss Whedon’s new television show, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. What can I say, I enjoyed it. As a long time fan of Whedon’s work, what can I say, I’m a huge fan guy the guy. Firefly and Dollhouse are two of my favorite shows and the guy gave us The Avengers. The man’s work is staple in nerd culture. That being said, there’s definitely room for improvement.
There is a bit of a corniness factor as there often is with Whedon’s work. His quirky sense of humor is deeply ingrained in each of the characters personalities, so whether or not that complements your whimsy will determine how well these characters jive with you, particularly the characters of Skye, played by the lovely Chloe Bennet, and the super CSI duo Fitz and Simmons, played respectively by Lain Decastecker and Elizabeth Henstridge. Bennet makes for a fun character, though she will seem very familiar to people well-acclimated with Whedon’s other shows. The latter two make for cute comic duo of awkward/ sweet but could definitely use more fleshing out as characters, this however is a very minor complaint as it is only the pilot episode of what I foresee being a long running series.
Playing the straight man/ woman to these comic foils were Brett Dalton and Ming Na Wen. Brett Dalton plays Agent Grant Wars, a young, no nonsense field agent who is reluctantly drafted into Coulson’s team with Ming Na Wen as a field agent turned desk jockey with a bitter aversion to returning to field work. Dalton mostly seems to provide a handsome face for Chloe Bennet to swap banter with (although he does get a few good lines), while Ming Na Wen turns in a very reserved performance but still manages to exudes the aura of battle-worn fighter in self-imposed exile. Some great groundwork has been laid down for both characters to grow as the show develops.
The stand out performances for me were that of Clark Gregg and J. August Richards. Clark Gregg returns to his role as the once-thought-to-be-dead S.H.I.E.L.D agent And fan favorite Phil Couslon, alive under mysterious and most likely dubious circumstances (this will certainly provide an interesting overarching plot thread for the first season). Gregg brings his usual soft-spoken, affable charm but the suitable edge befitting a seasoned spy. J. August Richards plays the heavy for the episode: An Everyman archetype endowed with super strength by a shadowy organization that gives him to power to either rise up as a hero or buckle under the stresses of working class America and succumb to the instability of his condition. Richards brings forth a very likable character who, even in an Extremis-fueled rage, maintains a level of humanity and truly embodies the Everyman archetype he has been written into.
It is this notion of the Everyman that truly drives home what seems to be the dominant theme of the show (a show in which none of the main characters have superpowers): that even in a post-Avengers world ordinary human beings can still make a difference, that this human element that could be so easily lost in a franchise of alien gods green rage monsters can still kick ass.