Monday, March 9, 2015
Agents of Shield/Agent Carter - what to do next?
So the eight week experiment has come to a successful close, and Agent Carter is in the books. There's talk of doing a volume two next season, which would be a good thing, and a lot of people prefer it to the show it filled in for, Agents of SHIELD. This is understandable and correct, in my opinion, although one has to take into account that Agent Carter was an eight episode miniseries and not a full 22 episode season. And that the storyline wasn't as constrained by an upcoming movie as every season of Agents will be. The only real constraints for Agent Carter are not killing off anyone who's still alive in the present day MCU or contradicting something that's already been laid out in an already completed film. And lastly, with no burden from fans to include Marvel characters that we want to see they can introduce and dispose of new characters who aren't in the comics as they wish. In short they have much more creative freedom and it shows. They also benefited from having a better actress in the lead role, and having a more compelling character for her to play. The only parts of the miniseries that didn't work for me were some of the scenes at SSR (the precursor to SHIELD), that dragged at times. But beyond, the entire run was excellent and like everybody else I hope they give us more next season.
As for the show it filled in for, I'll say that it's much better than it was when it started. Now I did defend the show last season when a lot of people were trashing it (mainly because too many were complaining about the lack of MCU characters even though we were told from the jump that wasn't happeneing), but now looking back I'll admit that it did have some issues. The direct tie-in to Captain America - The Winter Soldier hamstrung the storytelling, and there was some very wooden acting among the main cast. Brett Dalton was often downright painful as Agent Ward, and for most of season one he was the lead agent so that made for really stretches to watch. Chloe Bennett wasn't much better as Skye, and her importance to the team's activities throughout meant a lot of screen time for her, too. It took Bill Paxton's run through the final stretch as the main villain The Clairvoyant (which coincided with Agent Ward's heel turn to be his subordinate) to make things better at the end. This season has been a huge improvement. For the longtime Marvel fans there was an appearance from the Absorbing Man and the addition to the team of Bobbie Morse (Mockingbird). And the introduction of the Terrigen Mist and the reveal of Inhumans are major bones being thrown to Marrvel fans. Henry Simmons and Nick Blood have joined the cast as members of the SHIELD team as well, and Ward has been largely disappeared save a few scenes here or there. I'm guessing lots of this was in the plan from day one but some of it had to be in reaction to the negative press the show was getting.
So what's next for both? Agent Carter is off until next year, assuming it comes back, and we'll get more of the days leading up to the formal creation of SHIELD. More Peggy in the field, more Howling Commandos, and more Howard Stark would make it perfect for me. There are probably two good seasons worth of stories to tell here, maybe more. As for Agents of SHIELD, I have no idea. We'll get some lead in to Avengers - Age of Ultron for sure but this season is much less connected directly to the MCU so it likely won't be as direct. Next season there will be some dealing with the fallout from Ultron and some buildup toward next year's Civil War. The elephant in the room will be the Inhuman story. The Inhumans movie isn't coming for four more years. How they'll deal with a four year build up to that is beyond me. There's only so much slow burning you can do, especially without including any of the Inhuman royal family until the movie itself. I'm guessing though that the show won't have four more seasons after this one so that may not really be that much of a problem. That's not a dis; it's just that I don't see the current cast making it through six season without some turnover, especially if no one besides Agent Coulson makes it to the MCU (The TV team showing up in a future Marvel film won't exactly be a stand up and cheer moment). What would really be cool is if there's some overlap with Agents and the Netflix shows; those are crossovers that are more feasible and would be a good way to include some well known comic characters without begging Robert Downey, Jr. or Scarlett Johannson to come through.
Whatever happens, interesting times lie ahead for both shows.