Things I Learned from… Agents Of SHIELD

If ever there was a show that seemed destined to succeed, it was Agents Of SHIELD. (Yes, I know it’s S.H.I.E.L.D, but honestly, life is too short for that amount of punctuation…) Great creative minds behind the concept, great writers, great cast, and the publicity boost provided by the cinematic Marvel Universe and Marvel Comics. And we haven’t even mentioned the enduring popularity of Clark Gregg’s performance as Agent Phil Coulson…

So why is it a bit… uninspiring? Well, I think there may be a problem that goes to the heart of SHIELD itself.

Superhero stories are empowerment fantasies. They allow us to imagine what we’d do if we had the powers of the X-Men, the money and physical strength of Bruce Wayne, the intellect and technical skills of Tony Stark. They’re about self-actualisation, about everyone taking charge of their life and world and making them better.

SHIELD stands for the exact opposite of that. SHIELD’s job is to tell superpowered individuals to hide their abilities. To seize radical new technologies and lock them in a vault. And in one episode, to require a scientist to spend his entire life locked in a moving truck, alone and effectively a prisoner, because of SHIELD’s fear of what he might invent.

SHIELD is a reactionary organisation dedicated to keeping technology and superpowers away from everyone, even those who might use them for good. It’s the equivalent of a nuclear superpower telling another country it’s not allowed to develop nuclear technology. “We can have nuclear power, because we’re the good guys. But you can’t be trusted with it. Why? Because we say so.”

And who wants to watch that?

I’ll tell you the show I’d like to watch – and actually, it would be a show far more in keeping with Joss Whedon’s usual ethos…

I’d like to watch the show where a band of superpowered individuals with varying – and in some cases, dubious – motives band together to take down SHIELD, destroying this sinister organisation that wants to control humanity’s access to the fruits of its ingenuity and imagination.

A Marvel Universe without SHIELD would be a far more dangerous place. But despite that, it would be a universe far more free and worth living in.

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3 comments on “Things I Learned from… Agents Of SHIELD

  1. foz says:

    Here. Here.

  2. Paul C. says:

    So far Agents of S.h.i.e.l.d has been complete bereft of character development. The only one I really know anything about is Agent Colson, and I know about him mostly from the movies. Why I should care about any of these people or what they are trying to accomplish in saving us from the evil aliens, rogue mutants, and nasty super villains has been sadly lacking. I keep hoping it will kick in and get good, but so far, no joy. “Wolfblood” ended well though.

  3. Rickie says:

    WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!!!

    OK, let me start with saying, yes, the whole big brother oversight thing can get a little creepy. However, in defence of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I must ask you to look at it in a bit of a different light. One, the main character, Skye, is a against “the man” hacktivist who believes in freedom of information and sees the good in people. (Yes, it is Phil in the middle of all the pictures, but since we got to learn about S.H.I.E.L.D. as she did, and she is my favorite of the the six major characters, I see her as the main character.) Two, S.H.I.E.L.D. does get completely destroyed in The Winter Soldier movie, and by the end of series one Phil is made director, which leaves hope that its policies will change in the future. However, back to series one: secrets were a big theme throughout, with Phil, who at first was gung-ho for following orders and “protecting the world from what it was not ready for,” deciding that he had no right to keep secrets from anyone after finding out Director Fury had been keeping secrets from him. Three, the whole theme is uplifting in a way superhero stories can’t be: it shows normal people like you and me having the power to save the world rather than waiting for a super powered person to do so. And four, if you really are determined to have superheroes running around, Skye is Inhuman for crying out loud! Lastly, in defence of Joss Whedon, he is doing exactly what he always does, which is making awesome shows that keep you wondering about the metaphors and sub-plots. So S.H.I.E.L.D. leans more toward Dollhouse than Buffy, but so what? Both were awesome, and compelling (OK maybe not the ify season six), and filled with well rounded characters! Like any good show, it is forever evolving and changing as its characters do the same. Where the show started is a very different place from where it is now. Yes, it did not begin with a Buffy – already powerful, if a little tired of the responsibility that goes with it, or a battle-weary Malcolm, passive-aggressively defying an oppressive government. If anything the slightly creepy S.H.I.E.L.D. agency is satire for what happens when we let things go too far (or have we already?).

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and I definitely respect your’s, Mis. Moon, but I ask you to consider mine as well. Wolfblood is awesome, and I am psyched that you’re doing a fourth season, by the way.

    Cheers all and have a great day!

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