Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is good, but too familiar.
Let me start this review off by stating how much I loved The Avengers movie (read my review here). In my opinion, it was very nearly perfect. So, obviously, I had high expectations going into the pilot of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series. Unfortunately, I don’t think those expectations have been met, at least not with the pilot episode. However, as this is a Joss Whedon venue, I think the series might not really pick up for me until a few episodes in (that seems to usually be the case).
First, we’ll start with the good. For me, this show is all about Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson. And if I don’t watch this series for anything else, it will be for him. Coulson has escaped death (and the exact details of that remain mysterious) and is back, as funny and unconventional as ever. Gregg literally makes this series watchable and you want to see him on the screen during the whole hour that an episode runs. He’s just awesome. The other actors are good, too, though. I especially like the quirky tech team of Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), who get so caught up in their technobabble that much of their dialogue gets lost in a clueless “huh?” I loved that, obviously. The actors playing these characters are quick and clever. What’s not to love?
Now let’s discuss the characters. I’m a little disappointed at the rest because they really are the usual stereotypes. There’s nothing new here. You’ve got the down-on-his-luck misguided hero who the agency has to rescue from himself. There’s the hacker girl with a heart of gold who ends up joining the team. There’s the agent who doesn’t want to go out in the field again because something bad happened in the past. There’s the slick handsome guy who thinks he’s James Bond. Even my beloved tech team seem a little stereotyped, but at least that was split into two characters. These characters feel as if they were taken from any of a number of TV shows or films and there’s nothing really new about them.
This leads to the familiarity of the series. If you watched Syfy’s Alphas, a lot of this first episode is going to seem similar, although the plot itself seems to have been stolen from Iron Man 3 (seriously, they couldn’t come up with something different here?). Alphas, however, was an unsung series that, in my opinion, handled this sort of storyline a lot better.
My issues with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. aside, I will keep watching. Not just for Gregg, but because I know that sometimes Whedon just needs to get all the introductory stuff out of the way first before really delving into the heart of the story. I’m not going to say don’t watch this one, because it’s still quite good, but definitely go into the pilot with lower expectations and expect this episode to be rather formulaic.