Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Review “Pilot”

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Episode 1 Pilot (1)

After five years, four films, and one giant blockbuster became the third biggest movie of all time with The Avengers, we’re finally getting the follow-up TV series with the premiere of the biggest new show of the season: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. It feels like forever since it was announced that Joss Whedon himself was bringing a Marvel TV show to ABC, and now the pilot has finally aired. So did it live up to five years of build up and months of hype? Read on to find out!

Before we get to the actual review, it should be clarified that I am by no means an expert of Marvel comics. I’ve read quite a few of the comic books, and I’ve seen all of the accompanying films, but if I miss any second meanings or obvious comic references then please feel free to do the mature thing and insult me in the comments.

With that said, I thought tonight’s pilot was pretty darn impressive! Between all of the explosions, fancy technology, and really cool vehicles, this was the best produced pilot that I’ve seen since LOST. I can’t think of any other TV shows airing right now that look this high budget, but you have to wonder if the rest of the series will keep up this level of production values. Usually the pilot episode gets more money, but you have to figure that this is ABC’s biggest and most hyped new show, so they’ve got to be willing to throw plenty of money at it.

As far as the actual story of the pilot episode, the case of the week centered around Mike Peterson, an “Unregistered Super” played by J. August Richards from Angel. We quickly learn that the explosion from the opening scene originated from a lab that turned Mike into a superhero, and it appears that the mysterious people behind the “centipede” technology will be recurring bad guys for the next few episodes at least. I was glad that they didn’t go through with killing Mike, and I really hope he’ll return down the line.

The Mike Peterson story wasn’t as fleshed out as it could have been, but that’s because the rest of the episode was focused on introducing us to our team. It’s no easy feat to introduce us to each team member, and also make you like them and want to know more about them, but this is Joss we’re talking about here. Whedon has always done a great job writing likable and endearing ensemble casts in his previous shows, and it was no different with this one. I already want to know more about the mysterious pasts of our team members, I’ve fallen in love with Skye, and I’m totally already shipping Fitz and Simmons. Considering we only had 42 minutes to introduce all of these characters, as well as deal with the exciting case of Mike Peterson, that’s pretty darn commendable.

Not all of the credit should go to Whedon, though, as the stellar cast he’s assembled did a great job as well. When it was originally announced that Joss was bringing a SHIELD series to ABC, message boards around the internet exploded with possible casting choices, almost all of them drawing from old Whedonverse shows. Instead, they went almost entirely with unknown actors, but it paid off wonderfully. The only one with any notable TV credentials is Ming-Na Wen, who most will recognize from her stint on ER. However, being a doctor in a medical drama does not translate to an action adventure series with superheroes, so she might as well be a brand new actress.

There were a few fun guest stars tonight that have appeared in previous Whedon TV and movie projects. Cobie Smulders reprised her Maria Hill role from The Avengers, and Ron Glass from Whedon’s beloved series Firefly is playing Dr. Streiten. I’ve already mentioned J. August Richards from Angel, but the unfortunate thing is that none of these characters are guaranteed to return to the series. I’m sure they’ll show up again, but Cobie Smulders for one is going to be pretty busy filming the final season of How I Met Your Mother. Hopefully she can join SHIELD full time once that series concludes.

The explanation of how Coulson is still alive was a little underwhelming at first. I thought it was a little lame for him to just basically say “Yeah, they revived me and I lived through it! The end!” Thankfully, there appears to be a nice little mystery there, with both Maria Hill and Dr. Streiten knowing something about his death that even Coulson doesn’t know. That wasn’t the only intriguing little mystery tonight, though. I still want to find out about Ward’s dark family history, Melinda May’s legendary past, and why Skye had to delete her old life. I can’t wait to find out more about these great characters, and I can’t wait to see more of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD!

Random Thoughts:

– After months of introspection and soul searching, I’ve decided to remove the periods from “S.H.I.E.L.D.” when writing about it in the review. I hope that you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me.

– So what fun Marvel easter eggs did you guys find? I saw a Stark Industries advertisement on the side of a bus, but I’m sure there was a lot of cool stuff that I missed.

– Was anybody else a little bit confused at first about what happened with Mike at the end? If you didn’t catch the little piece of dialogue between Fitz and Simmons about the “Night night gun”, then you might have had no idea what happened to him. I thought he got sniped in the head for a second!