In an attempt to keep with the zeitgeist of connective tissues in movies and television, we here at Geek Fruit have our first series of articles, that honestly could go on indefinitely. We give you our own DEFENDERS series, where writers defend their favourite franchises and/or characters that let's just say, aren't too widely acclaimed. In this edition Geek Fruit nerf-herder Jishnu Guha defends Marvel Television's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, a show that some have tried to keep with and failed. But worry not! Where you (and I) have failed, Jishnu has gained level 7 entry like no one else we know.
Full disclosure: I've never been the kind of person who agonised over completing every single side mission in a video game campaign. But in 2008, when the world was (re)introduced to Iron Man, I decided that it was something I could really see myself sinking my teeth into. Four years and one epic Avengers team-up-circular-camera-pan-shot later and I was hooked...for keeps.
Despite the ups and downs between the 13 MCU films to date that are bound to happen when you amass well over 30 hours of big-screen time (I'm looking at you Thor and Iron Man 2), Marvel has been exceptional at engaging its fans through all its content on all platforms since the birth of the MCU. Simply put, it's a great time to be a Marvel fan.
Between following all the Avengers' individual story arcs that lead up to crossover events like Avengers, Age Of Ultron and Civil War, and my obnoxious addiction to Marvel's Contest of Champions game which keeps updating its roster of characters to be consistent with Marvel film and television releases, the Marvel storytelling machine just does not stop for even a minute.
I'm not going to delve into the Netflix universe right now though. We'll wait on The Defenders for that part of the conversation. Pretty sure I'll need a defibrillator upon watching Sigourney Weaver's entrance into the MCU.
So this brings me to Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - a show that I have vehemently defended for several years now, and yes it is essentially just one prolonged side mission in the larger metaphorical Marvel video game campaign. I am fully aware that I am in the vast minority of Marvel fans that have remained loyal to AOS and watched every episode to date; even as I'll admit I found myself face palming a lot more than I'd like in season two. It's not as gripping as its big screen cousins, but it does offer a very unique selling point in the Marvel universe - tangible cross platform continuity. I've pretty much put all of my eggs into this one basket that is the lives of the MCU's ground level clean up crew.
With the introduction of the Inhumans storyline in season 2 I was really excited at the notion that my patience and effort in sitting through season after season would be rewarded in 2019 with the Inhumans movie. I would've been able to enjoy so much more about that film than the majority of viewers and I would finally know what it feels like to be a real 'comic book nerd' who knows every little backstory to all the characters when I see them come to life in IMAX. Now that the film has either been indefinitely postponed or completely cancelled, one could be left wondering if there's any point to AOS anymore. Fair enough question. But then Ghost Rider happened.
With it's move to a later time slot on ABC, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D has started checking all of the usual boxes such as sexuality, language and violence, making it certainly more adult themed, and also (finally) critically acclaimed. But what keeps me personally engaged within the show, and especially so in this new season, is its consistency and attention to detail. AOS has always kept two agendas as its top priorities: continue the story arc of the decades old S.H.I.E.L.D vs. Hydra saga, and give real-time, ground level context to the goings on in the big screen MCU films. Dedicating twenty-plus episodes to the fall out of the Battle of New York or the Sokovia Accords is an incredibly bold move on Marvel's part that I greatly respect. I'm hard pressed to name any other franchise that has invested so much into fleshing out any of its properties while simultaneously introducing new big screen characters, let alone been able to pull of this kind of stunt and keep it compelling.
After the grim political dramas that were Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, AOS has really been putting its writers to task. They now have to deal with the new status quo regarding superhero registrations and how world leaders are scurrying to defend their nations from vigilante enhanced individuals and Inhumans, not to mention people/creatures not of this earth. The show has also started giving viewers a preview into (and will in all likelihood deal with the eventual fall out of) the mystic realms that will turn everything upside (literally) with the arrival of Dr. Strange in November via Ghost Rider. Several cast members from the show have already been announced in the cast for Infinity War in 2018. And about damn time too. These guys have done their time in the trenches and really deserve to be on the big screen, even if they only end up playing minor roles like Maria Hill or the guy who just plays Galaga on the Helicarrier.
While I don't expect AOS to win an Emmy anytime soon (maybe visual effects...maybe), it is incredibly satisfying and reaffirming to see Marvel starting to up their game with this show. This continues to give me hope that when the AOS characters make their big screen debut (can't wait to see Coulson sum up his resurrection in one snarky little side comment for the uninitiated viewers) they will make a significant impact, having played the game for precisely as long as the veterans in the Avengers team like Steve and Tony, who are already looking to retire to a condo on the beach some time sooner rather than later. It's not a show I would recommend to somebody who has managed to live under a rock and not see a single MCU film, but I do wholeheartedly recommend it to the die-hards who are willing to invest in the long game. Kevine Feige and Jeph Loeb are very smart people, and in them I trust.
Captain's Log: Jishnu Guha is a core member of Geek Fruit, and is too busy playing Marvel: Contest of Champions to look up from his screen right now. You can follow him on Twitter @jishnuguha