First Impressions: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

If you caught our Fall TV episode of “Hard NOC Life,” then you know how excited the Nerds are for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — which makes its premiere on ABC tonight at 8pm ET. (Coincidentally, today marks the blu-ray release of Iron Man 3 from Disney as well. Corporate synergy at its finest, folks!)

Fortunately, our friend — and honorary Nerd of Color — Jeff Yang scored himself a screener of tonight’s pilot episode and wanted to share his first impressions of the show. After the jump, check out his initial thoughts on the latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic (Televised?) Universe, also posted at

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the most fun I’ve had watching TV in years. Think WHEEEEEDON!, accent on the WHEE!

Hill: “What does S.H.I.E.L.D. stand for?”
Ward: “Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.”
Hill: “And what does that mean to you?”
Ward: “It means someone REALLY wanted our initials to spell out ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’”

AoS is going to have every single fanboy and fangirl who loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe falling in love all over again  —  I guarantee it. Having a show centered around Agent Coulson, who brings an entirely new and fresh flavor to the superspy, was brilliant. And, of course, there’s the patented Whedonesque dialogue — smarter than it needs to be, but never self-consciously so, and always tightly mapped to character.

The Agents don’t drop quips just to generate quotable one-liners, in terrible ‘80s Schwarzenegger style; they say witty things because they’re believably witty people, with an inner life that’s about more than just fisticuffs, gizmos and gunslinging.

Looking forward to seeing how the team evolves, and where the series goes. But for now, anyway, buckle up: This helicarrier is going places.

Also, this tweet:

16 thoughts on “First Impressions: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

  1. Now for the other side of things. I’ll be watching, but I have my hesitations. First of all, there are no blacks on the team. Am I supposed to just accept that Ming Na stands for all minorities? On a 6 person team?! They couldn’t even have Agent Rodriguez?

    Next, it’ll be interesting to see a show that’s designed to dance between the raindrops of continuity. I mean, nothing “big” can happen on the show, since they’ve got to save that for the cinematic universe, of which this is still a part. That said, they’re not gonna give away the big stuff for free. With the exception of the X-Files, no show has ever done this – existed within continuity of existing film franchise. And X-Files doesn’t count because the show came first. There are a lot of things to be hesitant about, but I’m scared the Whedon fanboys will be louder than the critical assessments of the show. Just my two cents…

    1. Eh, it was okay. Too Whedon-y for my taste, but I’ll come back… for now.

      Also, am I the only one who kept thinking “this is why you should’ve made a movie Black Widow figure” when they showed the kid staring at Avengers toys in the beginning of the show?

      1. I watched it late last night, and found it to be really entertaining, nothing much more, nothing less. It may become a nice dose of escapism for me. 🙂 I caught on to what Jeff was referring to re: the silent social justice commentary within the first few minutes, and I actually teared up. And that man’s soliloquy at the end made me tear up as well. It was nice to see that voice come out on primetime TV, although it all was swept under the rug by the shocking thing that happened immediately afterwards.

        Only solution: more Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. of color, please, Whedon Family!

      2. They DID make a Black Widow movie figure. The problem was that the figures they showed were actually for the Avengers Assemble cartoon and NOT from the movie.

      3. Yeah, I know they made a 3 3/34 ScarJo, but I was talking about the 6-inch Walmart exclusives. Widow was the only one they didn’t make in that scale. And are you sure those were Assemble figures? Pretty sure I saw “Ultra Strike” Cap in the window.

  2. I may have to turn in my nerd card for this, but I plan on watching this series…

    …and it will be my first Whedon show.

    *ducks tomatoes*

      1. One of my best friends from college is a HUGE Buffy fan, so I’ve caught snippets here and there over the years, and I was subjected to the musical episode many times. It struck me as too precious, but I should definitely give it a real try someday.

      2. The musical episode makes almost zero sense if you aren’t watching Buffy. It becomes pretty tripe-y if you don’t get the sort of tongue-in-cheek easter egg humour of the characters. I suggest you start with some of the earlier stuff — season 2 or season 3 onwards. season 1 is really bad and campy, but it picks up with season 2.

        Once you invest in the characters, the pay-off of the later seasons is worth it. But catching it piecemeal is guaranteed to just be annoying.

  3. Co-signing Will – I’m not interested in this show because I’m convinced that the writers will be hamstrung by the movie tie-ins. Further, the Friends-level monochrome here reflects the Marvel Cinematic Universe all too well. Normally, this site champions people of color in the sci-fi/ comic realms to marketing excess, but on this show it seems like the unbearable Whiteness of Whedon is all that matters.

    Mind you – I’ve been a Ming-Na fan since Street Fighter, but I’m hesitant on this show. If nothing else, the Marvel films are horrid movies, devoid of plot, substance and often charisma, Robert Downey Jr. notwithstanding. A street-level take on superheroes in that universe might be interesting on paper, but then I look at the casting and it feels like I’m watching a promo for a USA Network spy show, Covert Suits or whatever. (They all blend together.)

    I don’t share Jeff Yang’s confidence here. It would be helpful if someone could offer more detail on the supposedly amazing social justice commentary without spoilers. I’ve yet to view the show, but I’ll probably pass.

  4. “I’ve been a Ming-Na fan since Street Fighter.”

    Can we all just pause and be astounded by this sentence for a second?

    I love you, hon, but seriously? Street Fighter?!?

  5. I wasn’t impressed. There is a legit cheesy music slow mo scene of smug white people nodding at each other after they shoot a black dude in the head. It seems like the show was cast using a paper bag test. The Union Station mural was more diverse than this cast. J. August Richard’s character was a basket of black man character tropes, and not in a self-aware superhero way. Ming Na’s character has been described in promo materials as a “ninja.” The “social justice” lip service was treacly and disingenously contradictory to the entire premise of the show.

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