Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Agents of SHIELD has gotten much better since the show decided it didn't have to behold to the movies.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

It's also gotten kind of cheap. This whole season looks like it was filmed in someone's basement and they clearly don't have the money for the extras and location filming that they once had. Excellent character-oriented writing and the stories are as strong as ever, but every episode feels like a bottle episode with only a few exceptions this year. I love the scripts, but the visual quality of the show has gotten frustratingly claustrophobic with the team constantly advancing down dimly lit hallways to get to more dimly lit hallways.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

And here's one of the problems that has plagued AoS since the beginning... I haven't seen Infinity War, and even if I were super eager to see it, the odds of my getting to the theater in the first week or two would be slim to none.

TV is easy, because it happens on my schedule, and it's free. Totally different animal. AoS has spoiled movies in the past (most notably Winter Soldier).

I'm not super invested in the MCU, so I'm not the target audience, but if I were, I would find this very frustrating. Who wants to watch a tv show for free if it's going to ruin a movie that you're paying money to see?

But like I said, I'm not the target audience. I do agree that this season has been super cheap though. It's pretty ridiculous, given their basic concept.


Switching topics kinda...

I still haven't seen Ragnarok, and every time I think about renting it, it feels like a chore. Thor movies just suck, and the fact that Homecoming sucked and Doctor Strange sucked just kills my excitement for all of the other interwoven movies. I am a geek. We all know this. I find enjoyment in some pretty lame-but-geeky material. It's frustrating to me that so many people enjoy these movies and they make billions of dollars, and they should be exactly my type of movies, but I find so few of them to be the least bit enjoyable.

That said, I think that at least some part of their success is just a pop culture thing. Like Star Wars movies, the film's themselves aren't as important as everyone wanting something to be excited about. The DCEU is the same pop culture movement, but in reverse, since they represent the "other team", despite doing something completely different.

I'm rambling. I must be bored.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Agents of SHIELD doesn't spoil movies anymore.  The last couple of episodes have vaguely (and more recently, directly) referenced what's going on with the Avengers, but it wouldn't be anything you wouldn't know from knowing the movie exists.  They can't do it for long because Infinity War *will* impact their universe, but it doesn't have to yet (and the show only has, potentially, two episodes left).

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

But more importantly, will this movie mess up the Netflix shows? They've done a pretty good job of doing their own thing, and I'd hate for their stories to been driven now by a movie that, let's face it, doesn't *really* share a universe with them.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

I 100% expect that Infinity War will have zero effect on the Netflix shows.

Back to Infinity War spoilers....

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So I watched a few minutes of Spider-Man Homecoming last night because it popped up on YouTube.  It was then that I remembered that Aunt May found out that Peter was Spider-Man.

To me, the Spider-Man death is the one that hurts the most.  And it isn't because I expect him to be dead because I don't.  While everyone else faced their death with relative grace and poise, Spider-Man might've been the only one in the entire universe that knew what was happening to him and faced it with true fear.  He begs for his life.

And it hurts because Peter, while being brave and strong and heroic, is a kid.  He's going to come back, and he'll be a hero again in his next solo film.  And that'll probably be fun and funny like Homecoming was.

But it's haunted me since I saw it because he's a kid in a very adult situation.  I've gone back and forth with the question of whether or not Peter knew that the plan involved him dying.  And I still don't know whether or not it's sadder for him to have known (and then freaked out realizing that dying, even for a noble cause, sucks) or whether or not he didn't know (and it's just a 15-year-old kid realizing he's going to die).  I know the moment is going to haunt Tony, but it still haunts me nonetheless.

And that's when I thought about Aunt May.  I know this is a younger, sexier Aunt May.  But it's still Aunt May.  And I realized that, while she doesn't know that Peter disappeared....she knows enough.  Infinity War takes place over a couple of days, and the inciting incident is a fight between Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, and two alien invaders.  The news would obviously cover a huge spinning spaceship arriving in New York, the ensuing battle, and the ship disappearing.

There'd be witness accounts of who fought, and what happened to them.  Someone may have seen (and heck, there could be video) of Spider-Man and Iron Man on the spaceship (since no one would really know who Strange is).

And Aunt May knows that Peter is Spider-Man.  Even before she can get worried that Peter hasn't come home yet, she'd know that Peter boarded an alien spaceship that traveled light years away.  Even before people started disappearing, she'd know.  And even if she disappeared herself, she'd have a couple of days to understand that Peter was gone.  Not missing.  Gone.

And that made me sad again.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Finally saw Ragnarok!

I can honestly say that it met my expectations.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

INFINITY WAR was okay. I didn't hate it, I thought it was a good superhero epic -- it's just, I'm not really that into epics. I don't like seeing giant battlefields with hundreds of thousands of people charging forward; I prefer the three-person battles of CIVIL WAR or, despite reservations, Daisy and Coulson walking through a dimly lit hallway. It bothered me that INFINITY WAR trampled over RAGNAROK's ending by immediately slaughtering "half" of the survivors of Asgard and gave Thor his eye back.

I don't really have any strong opinions about INFINITY WAR except to say it's not really for me; I'd rather see superheroes more on the scale of Oliver and Felicity eating breakfast for dinner or Barry making his wedding plans or Kara and Lena eating Chinese food, if that makes any sense.

I found the scale of INFINITY WAR really difficult to relate to and, to be honest, the only reason I went to see it in theatres was so that I could watch this week's AGENTS OF SHIELD (which I will go watch now at the gym).

409 (edited by Slider_Quinn21 2018-05-13 20:29:52)

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

By the way, since you said it, I haven't been able to unsee how every episode of Agents of SHIELD takes place in a dim corridor.

When, in this week's episode, they confront Gravity Man in his neighborhood, the natural light nearly blinded me.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Regarding Infinity War:

I see where you're coming from, but I don't know if the small-scale moments were even possible with a movie like that.  They did their best here and there (Quill and Gamora, Thor and Rocket, Tony and Pepper, Thanos and Gamora, etc), but these types of movies lend themselves to big giant action sequences.  Although, to be honest, I found the Wakanda battle scene to be the worst of the movie.  I preferred the other, smaller action sequences.

(In fact, I would've gotten rid of the faceless army in general.  I know we needed some fun action sequences and big wins for our team, but I think fighting Thanos' generals and then Thanos himself would've been just as much fun.)

People have been saying that Infinity War overwrites the point of Ragnarok, but I don't see that.  Yes, Thanos destroyed half of the Asgardians, but half of them still survived.  Thor might've failed in saving all of them, but all of them were going to die on Asgard.  He still saved a ton of Asgardians because of that movie.  The eye stuff is weird because I think they could've kept it - I didn't see any particular reason to give him the eye back (they could've had him lose to Thanos because of depth perception or something).

That's actually the one thing I would've liked to have seen.  If Thor is really the warrior that can take Thanos down, I wish we could've seen how he lost so easily the first time.

I also wondered that....did Thanos "spare" the societies where he already destroyed half the life?  Or did places like Gamora's planet and Asgard lose another half?  I'm guessing, since it's Thanos' mind controlling the gauntlet, that he spared them.  But I wasn't sure how that worked.

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Regarding AoS and Infinity War....it's very strange to me that the aliens in the Confederacy are aware that Thanos is attacking Earth but don't seem that concerned about it.  Do they not know about Thanos' plan?  Because, you'd think, if they did....that the final fight on Earth wouldn't just be the Avengers....there'd be alien spaceships and superheroes and remnants of the Nova Corps and everyone that's still alive.

Because the Confederacy seems to be treating the conflict like "we wanted to plunder the Earth before Thanos got there...." not seeming to realize that Thanos is going to destroy half of *all life* - there's a 50% chance that he could kill any individual in the universe.  It should, in theory, be an all hands on deck vs. Thanos thing.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

AoS was renewed. For the life of me, I have no idea why.

I expect next season to be set entirely in one room. The year after that, they won't even film it. It will just be an audio production... Which might actually help to improve their stories.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

I'd be very interested in seeing Infinity War aftermath on Agents of SHIELD.  But I don't know if they'd go there (I guess we'll find out Friday), especially when it's likely that the aftermath would get undone.

There's some cool stuff they could do.  But if the budget has been definitively slashed, maybe it could help things.

Or maybe they'll divert more money to it with less episodes.  We'll see....even with the slashed budget, I think the season has been entertaining.  And I'm watching it on my DVR way earlier than I used to, since I'm eagerly looking for clues onto what Thanos is up to smile

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

I'm probably not the target audience, but I think the show has been a mess, both visually and in terms of story. There has been some interesting drama, but it hasn't been handled as well as it could have been. And visually, I can't get past the cramped feeling and the painfully bad makeup. Every CW show, and Gotham look way, way, way better than this. And I'm not sure why. How different are the budgets?

Maybe AoS went too big with their arcs, when they couldn't deliver big visuals to match. But even when the show started, it looked like it was made cheaply, obviously on the back lot most of the time. How much of this is lack of money, and how much of it is just poor showrunning?

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Did they blow the budget in the first half of the season on CGI monsters and space travel?  I don't remember if that looked really cheap and crappy or not.

They're calling the season finale "The End" so I'm guessing the writers and producers were ready for the show to be over.  Between that and Infinity War making a season 6 a bit of a chore to make work, I'm wondering if some involved were glad it would end when it did.

But maybe part of the deal to make season 6 13 episode involved raising the budget so that it can work.  I know Marvel TV and Marvel Films are separate, but Marvel definitely has the money.  And maybe with the cancellation of Inhumans, they could divert some of the money that would've gone to Inhumans to SHIELD.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

I don't think the budget was blown on anything. There were a few CG monsters in the premiere in dark lighting, but the bulk of the action was walking about in the Lighthouse which is still the case, except the lighting's been brightened. The CG space sequences were limited, too. The only episode to really cut loose visually this year was Fitz's interlude with Hunter which had location shooting. The bottle episodes will likely lead to a season finale that splurges.

I feel sad that SliderQuinn21 didn't notice the bottle episode look until I noted it. But you know it's there when even Informant notices seeing as he was blind to CHUCK suffering from the same in its last two seasons.

**

I wouldn't change INFINITY WAR; I think the movie called for giant battlefield sequences. They're just not something I personally enjoy. I also don't enjoy racecars, savoury biscuits or gay sex, but I don't want them erased from existence.

INFINITY WAR going into production probably led to Disney overruling ABC's decision to cancel AGENTS OF SHIELD after Season 4 and led to another year of the team trading quips and cracking wise. It's fine. I agree with Slider_Quinn21 saying that RAGNAROK's ending hasn't been undone by INFINITY WAR.

**

I got the sense that the Confederacy on AGENTS OF SHIELD is perfectly aware of Thanos' plan and also don't believe they can stop him. A number of possibilities present themselves: they've accepted that one out of two of them will be erased by Thanos and want to proceed with strip-mining the Earth's resources and using the threat of Thanos to turn any potential resistance into willing allies in the extraction. The Confederacy races have already had their numbers halved by a previous Thanos attack (hence their belief that they can't fight him).

Another possibility -- although it's a stretch -- is that the AGENTS OF SHIELD writers didn't know Thanos planned to erase half of the universe's population. There are rumours that since AGE OF ULTRON, the SHIELD writing staff have been trying to tie into the movies by watching the trailers and that the flow of information from Marvel Films to Marvel TV has stopped dead, so the SHIELD writers couldn't give the Confederacy any knowledge of Thanos' plan as the writers had none. But -- I find this difficult to believe because Thanos' desire to erase people was in the INFINITY GAUNTLET comic book.

**

One thing that worries me is the idea that half of the cast of AGENTS OF SHIELD will dissolve into dust in the finale due to a conflict with Thanos from which they were largely disengaged. It would be awkward for SHIELD to lose half its cast, but it would also be awkward if they explicably suffered no casualties even though Nick Fury and Maria Hill were erased. There is a back door built into the show, however: in the middle of the season, rifts between dimensions were opened in the sublevel of the Lighthouse.

The rifts have since then been sealed, but if the entire team pass through one of the rifts or if a rift is briefly expanded to encompass the Lighthouse, then the inhabitants of the Lighthouse could be considered to be technically outside the bounds of our universe, and therefore untouched by Thanos' erasure of half the population. Season 6 could then take place in this depopulated situation with a number of episodes to air after AVENGERS IV is released and the situation is resolved.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Some Infinity War spoilers below....


ireactions wrote:

Another possibility -- although it's a stretch -- is that the AGENTS OF SHIELD writers didn't know Thanos planned to erase half of the universe's population. There are rumours that since AGE OF ULTRON, the SHIELD writing staff have been trying to tie into the movies by watching the trailers and that the flow of information from Marvel Films to Marvel TV has stopped dead, so the SHIELD writers couldn't give the Confederacy any knowledge of Thanos' plan as the writers had none. But -- I find this difficult to believe because Thanos' desire to erase people was in the INFINITY GAUNTLET comic book.

Man, I can't imagine things are that bad between Marvel TV and Marvel Film, but Ike Perlmutter still runs TV and is hated by the studio....so maybe you're right. 

It does make some sense.  First off, Marvel is notorious about avoiding too many spoilers, and I'm sure it was on a need-to-know basis (and I can't imagine TV writers were need-to-know).  Second, the references to Infinity War on SHIELD are very vague and could hypothetically be derived from trailers alone.  In fact, some of the references are, arguably, wrong when seen in context of the movie. The Confederacy says that "Thanos and his forces have begun an assault on your world, even as we speak"  But Thanos doesn't even arrive on the planet until the end.  His generals do attack, but the attacks are brief.

And even last episode when Mac sees a news event about an attack in New York, it looks like different damage than I would've expected from the Iron Man/Spider-Man/Strange fight.  I don't remember any damage to buildings like I saw in that shot (although its been a couple weeks now and I can't remember exactly).

So, with that in mind, I don't think they'll address it at all.  They probably weren't given any warning so I'm guessing the finale will end before Thanos snaps his fingers.  Maybe they'd have time to film some sort of epilogue but even then, I doubt it.

It sucks - more than anything, SHIELD could be used to draw people to the movies and vice versa.  The show has, unquestionably, gotten better since SHIELD *depended* on the movies to work, but there could be cool "event" episodes that tie into what's happening in the movies.

(Although Infinity War hasn't really caused a spike in the ratings)

Slipping them into a parallel dimension could work.  Time travel could possibly work (either send them back in time to the 50s - maybe mix in some Agent Carter?) or sending them forward in time to avoid any consequences.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Chuck had a small budget, but some solid plot, great characters, and a cast that could sell it. AoS has... a small budget...

I should probably avoid reading much more here, with all of the Infinity War stuff. Not that I'm hugely invested. The MCU movies have been getting worse and worse. Like they have a release date, and will release a movie on that day, whether they have one or not. Ragnarok was just horrible. I was literally cringing through the first quarter of the movie, and then my face got tired. But I was cringing on the inside for the rest of the movie. smile

I just don't understand it. Why can so many people watch these movies and enjoy them, but I watch them and they're just embarrassingly bad? It wasn't always like this. Even the early "bad" MCU movies were somewhat fun to watch (First Avenger, Thor, Iron Man 2), but now they seem 100% horrible.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Informant wrote:

Ragnarok was just horrible. I was literally cringing through the first quarter of the movie, and then my face got tired. But I was cringing on the inside for the rest of the movie.

"By Odin's beard, you shall not cut my hair, lest you feel the wrath of the mighty Thor!" [pause] "Please, kind sir, do not cut my hair. NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

"That looks painful. Dear brother, you're becoming predictable. I trust you, you betray me, round and round in circles we go. See Loki, life is about... It's about growth, it's about change, but you seem to just want to stay the same. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you'll always be the god of mischief, but you could be more. I'll just put this over here for you."

"The damage is not too bad. As long as the foundations are still strong, we can rebuild this place. It will become a haven for all peoples and aliens of the universe." [Asgard explodes] "Oof. Now those foundations are gone. Sorry."


Informant wrote:

I just don't understand it. Why can so many people watch these movies and enjoy them, but I watch them and they're just embarrassingly bad? It wasn't always like this. Even the early "bad" MCU movies were somewhat fun to watch (First Avenger, Thor, Iron Man 2), but now they seem 100% horrible.

Translation: "These movies and shows aren't made to serve MY personal interests and specific desires for film and TV, therefore they are objectively bad and people who like things I don't are wrong." Didn't you learn anything from your nervous breakdown in the DCEU thread?

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

Some Infinity War spoilers below....

ireactions wrote:

Another possibility -- although it's a stretch -- is that the AGENTS OF SHIELD writers didn't know Thanos planned to erase half of the universe's population. There are rumours that since AGE OF ULTRON, the SHIELD writing staff have been trying to tie into the movies by watching the trailers and that the flow of information from Marvel Films to Marvel TV has stopped dead, so the SHIELD writers couldn't give the Confederacy any knowledge of Thanos' plan as the writers had none. But -- I find this difficult to believe because Thanos' desire to erase people was in the INFINITY GAUNTLET comic book.

Man, I can't imagine things are that bad between Marvel TV and Marvel Film, but Ike Perlmutter still runs TV and is hated by the studio....so maybe you're right.  [...] And even last episode when Mac sees a news event about an attack in New York, it looks like different damage than I would've expected from the Iron Man/Spider-Man/Strange fight.  I don't remember any damage to buildings like I saw in that shot (although its been a couple weeks now and I can't remember exactly). So, with that in mind, I don't think they'll address it at all.  They probably weren't given any warning so I'm guessing the finale will end before Thanos snaps his fingers.  Maybe they'd have time to film some sort of epilogue but even then, I doubt it.

I honestly find this unlikely. Thanos has been wanting to erase 50 per cent of the population since the 1990s if not sooner. I think probably, the AGENTS OF SHIELD team wasn't embedded into INFINITY WAR production the way they were integrated into WINTER SOLDIER. WINTER SOLDIER's footage was put to use in Season 1 of SHIELD; I think at this point, the SHIELD writers probably received a breakdown of events for INFINITY WAR and an explanation of INFINITY WAR's conclusion... but probably not any footage or an actual script, hence AGENTS OF SHIELD using generic NYC footage that wasn't made by the INFINITY WAR team.

I just thought it was an interesting writing challenge trying to tie into INFINITY WAR while knowing nothing about it, but that might not actually be the case.

If the tie-in to the INFINITY WAR film is the cast looking at an offscreen monitor and a news report and declaring that something terrible has happened without specifics, the SHIELD writers are probably writing in the dark. If it's more specific, then we'll know otherwise. We'll find out this Friday!

Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

Slipping them into a parallel dimension could work.  Time travel could possibly work (either send them back in time to the 50s - maybe mix in some Agent Carter?) or sending them forward in time to avoid any consequences.

I'd kind of like to see AGENTS OF SHIELD briefly morph into AGENT CARTER for a couple episodes via time travel to wrap up AGENT CARTER's plots -- but on the Season 5 budget, I don't think AGENTS OF SHIELD can afford to do AGENT CARTER's period drama unless it is also set in an underground bunker of shadowy hallways.

I just think it is unlikely that AGENTS OF SHIELD can allow the Thanos erasure to cause them to lose half their cast; the actors are on contract and it'd be foolish to break up the cast due to events that aren't specific to AGENTS OF SHIELD. Maybe they could disappear in a cliffhanger, but then the Season 6 premiere will require coming up with some reasoning that restores them but can't be extended to the other characters who were lost in INFINITY WAR. It's probably best just to avoid it entirely.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

No, I was actually wondering if something changed with *me* at some point. I wasn't criticizing others for enjoying the horrible movies. I think it would be nice to be able to enjoy a movie, even a stupid one, and just be a part of the crowd for once. Instead, I enjoy good movies that nobody else likes, and I can't read any articles about them without being bombarded with comments about how they dun did them wrong.

It's like Star Wars. The originals have some nostalgic benefits, but none of the movies are actually good. Yet it seems like the majority of the people get to be a part of the game where they get excited for each new movie, as though there's still a chance that one might be worth watching.

I want to be one of the crowd at some point. I guess I'm in with the Stranger Things enjoyers, so that's something. I had it with Lost for a while, until people turned on that one too.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

NOTE: I'm rewatching LOST with my wife right now (she's never seen it) and I'm enjoying every moment. I've forgotten more than I thought I would, but it's just so well done.  Even the average stuff is just very compelling to watch.

MORE AVENGERS SPOILERS!

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ireactions wrote:

I just think it is unlikely that AGENTS OF SHIELD can allow the Thanos erasure to cause them to lose half their cast; the actors are on contract and it'd be foolish to break up the cast due to events that aren't specific to AGENTS OF SHIELD. Maybe they could disappear in a cliffhanger, but then the Season 6 premiere will require coming up with some reasoning that restores them but can't be extended to the other characters who were lost in INFINITY WAR. It's probably best just to avoid it entirely.

I could see that, but I'm hoping they made some sort of deal with the budget.  Maybe they get the same budget for 13 episodes that they had for 22 episodes.  It would probably take someone at Marvel flexing their muscle, but maybe it happened. 

It's actually a good opportunity for Marvel to play around with a world that is, technically, post-Avengers.  It could actually be a cool world to play with as a writer's room.

The problem is that, sorta like Fringe's final season, it'd be really weird to have the final season of SHIELD be in some sort of post-apocalyptic world that eventually gets erased.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

AoS is scheduled to come back next summer, presumably after the next Avengers movie is released in May.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Oh I didn't see that.  I just saw midseason so I figured it'd be winter.  Nevermind smile

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Well, looks like the writers either didn't know about Infinity War or didn't want to mess with it.  Everything that happens in Agents of Shield happened before, and with the return coming after the Infinity War sequel, it might not even matter to the AoS universe.  Which is fine.  The Thanos threat played into Talbot's motivations, and that's all that really needed to happen.  Considering how much of Infinity War takes place in space and Wakanda, I don't think anything more needed to be shown or referenced.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

I think AGENTS OF SHIELD was in a difficult place. INFINITY WAR’s release date was close to AGENTS OF SHIELD’s finale, but there were strong signs that this would be the final season. If they tied into INFINITY WAR, they’d be ending on a cliffhanger and while the situation would be resolved in AVENGERS IV, there wouldn’t be any closure for the SHIELD cast. So they elected to do a series finale with a happy ending — that is likely to be negated anywhere from five seconds to five minutes after credits when Thanos erases at least half the cast from reality.

Anyway. The numerous bottle episodes in the second half of the season were clearly to permit the location filming and the effects for the Quake/Graviton fight scene in the streets of Chicago.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Yeah I thought all that looked pretty good.  What's weird is that the scene in Tahiti looked like an obvious green screen shot.

If that's how they decided to use their budget, that's fine.  I just hope that they got enough budget to finish the series off in season six.  There's still some plot threads left, but I would've been okay if that was the series finale.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

I think the bad green screening was deliberate; the background plate was based on the dreamy, blurry stock footage of Coulson's Season 1 flashes of his false memories. Season 5 also tied back into Season 1 heavily with Coulson's hallucination of Mike Peterson telling him that Seasons 1 - 5 have all been a near-death dream as Coulson lies dying on an operating table after Loki stabbed him with line with the phantom of Peterson reciting some of Coulson's dialogue in the Pilot.

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The only thing I really disliked about "The End" -- I kept bracing myself for any one or more of the cast to dissolve into dust and as the plane flew overhead, I kept thinking it would crash into the beach because the pilots might have vanished due to Thanos -- and I kept worrying that the autopilot might not be set and the plane could crash into something else when Thanos' snaps his fingers in a few minutes or hours.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Since the show is coming back more than a year from now....I wonder if Marvel would have any interest in doing a one-shot with some of the Agents of Shield characters in the aftermath of Thanos.  Because they've set themselves up for a situation where we may never know what happened post-snap (assuming everything is reset to pre-snap in Avengers 4).

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

I was rewatching some Season 1 episodes of AGENTS OF SHIELD and the show is a shockingly poor failure in so many areas. The pilot episode is adequate with Chloe Bennet giving Skye a spunky, irreverent energy that contrasts well with the buttoned down Coulson.

But immediately with the subsequent episodes, problems come up. The lighting is entirely too bright for a show about espionage and it makes everything onscreen look like an overlit toy commercial. The depiction of SHIELD is entirely too clean: it's a covert spy operation that drives around with its insignia on its SUVs; its surveillance is entirely benign, its methods are largely bloodless. It's a child's vision of what spies do.

Another problem: the SHIELD team we see the most of is composed of a hacktivist with no security status, two scientists with no combat training, a pilot who doesn't want to fight, a stone cold killer who isn't a team player led by a man who is officially dead. They come off as a ragtag group of misfits and yet, we're constantly told they're part of a large, highly equipped and completely professional organization even though the lead team we see the most of is a gang of awkward amateurs.

This is a version of SHIELD that is totally disconnected from the glimpses we got in the AVENGERS films, totally at odds with the sprawling, global, professional SHIELD that the characters describe onscreen, and it's impossible to imagine Nick Fury signing off on this team.

There's also a high level of humour that doesn't deepen the situations but instead makes the show seem goofier and the threats less serious. Fitz whining about a sandwich on an operation is distracting and silly; Jemma getting too deep into her role as Coulson's daughter on an undercover mission undermines the danger. The jokes don't fit the show; the characters don't fit the SHIELD concept -- it's all these disparate and mismatched pieces.

And it's strange how WINTER SOLDIER destroying SHIELD actually helped the AGENTS OF SHIELD TV show get into place. The Agents of Nothing phase is when the show starts to figure things out: the cast is a gang of misfits, so having them become an underground operation makes a lot more sense for these characters. These characters are not fit to represent the entire SHIELD organization, so having SHIELD reduced to them and only them is a far better fit. And when SHIELD is down to Coulson's team, the jokes take on a bleaker, darker tone that actually deepens the sense of danger and paranoia.

I did note, however, that even in Season 1 when the budget was high, there was a lot of walking through dark and empty hallways.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Well, SHIELD has always been an anomaly in the MCU.  In the first Iron Man movie, Coulson operates like it's a new agency that people haven't heard of (not just Tony, Pepper hasn't heard of it either).  Maybe something in response to 9/11 like Homeland Security. 

In Winter Soldier (and Agent Carter), the history of SHIELD shows that it's been around since the end of World War II.  And as Grant Ward aptly, said in the AoS pilot:

Maria Hill: What does S.H.I.E.L.D. stand for, Agent Ward?
Grant 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 "shield."

So either Coulson was playing a trick on Tony and Pepper, or no one noticed that SHIELD spelled anything for 60 years.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

The writers clearly changed their minds between IRON MAN and AGENTS OF SHIELD. There's a little wiggle room in that the SHIELD of AGENT CARTER is not actually SHIELD but the Strategic Science Reserve. AGENT CARTER had the SSR being a covert operation which seemed to be the case until the first IRON MAN movie during which Fury tells Stark that Stark has brought superheroes into the public eye where they were in the shadows before. It's possible that SHIELD realized Stark was going to expose his Iron Man identity to the public and decided they would finally wheel out the acronym they'd set up for public use but never deployed until now.

432 (edited by ireactions 2018-05-25 21:07:22)

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Over the weekend, I wanted to write the book on AGENTS OF SHIELD. Didn't get far, but it was interesting to note: AGENTS OF SHIELD, since Season 4, has been dividing its storylines into what the producers called "pods" where each season was actually 2 - 3 short and separate seasons within 22 episodes. But every season of AGENTS OF SHIELD seems to have had its own pods:

Pod 1: Season 1, Episodes 1 - 12 - "Fan Fiction"
The first 12 episodes of AGENTS OF SHIELD are an extremely simplistic children's show. SHIELD agents are all uniformly good, all others are bad. AGENTS OF SHIELD is presented as an extension of the AVENGERS film, but it seems more like a Disney children's cartoon that accidentally got filmed in live action.

Skye, Fitz and Simmons are constantly played for easy jokes and face lightweight threats. They feel more like characters in a children's half-hour sitcom than the cast of a Marvel Cinematic Universe production. The overlit look gives the impression of an student production. Namedropping "Romanov," "Banner" and "Stark" when those characters don't appear onscreen seems desperate.

Worse, the cameos from Nick Fury and Maria Hill have no impact on the plot and feel like deleted scenes ripped off a blu-ray and plugged into a fan film. The use of the term "Gifted" to avoid calling superpowered people "mutants" is an awkward way to address lacking the X-MEN rights. The tie-in to THOR: THE DARK WORLD is carefully designed to avoid any impact on the film series. The show feels like a STAR TREK novel: disposable, making no waves in the universe it supposedly inhabits and designed to be ignored by the actual MCU productions.

There are any number of reasons for this. The production was forbidden to offer any buildup to WINTER SOLDIER revealing that HYDRA had infiltrated SHIELD to the point where AGENTS OF SHIELD had to use "Centipede" to refer to its central evil organization. The show was barred from making any hints that SHIELD might be anything other than an organization of white knights lest the surprise be ruined.

There was the initial sense that a TV extension of AVENGERS needed to skew to a younger audience. The production difference and distance between TV and film made it hard for TV to write stories that films could respond to as films were made over years while TV was made in weeks.

But the result: AGENTS OF SHIELD didn't seem to be a genuine extension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe laid out in the AVENGERS movies and had a painful air of illegitimacy.

Pod 2 - Season 1, Episodes 13 - 22 - "Agents of Nothing"
Which is why it's so interesting that the "Agents of Nothing" era determinedly turns into the spin by taking that accidental illegitimacy and making it text within the show.

Despite the tie in to WINTER SOLIDER being from Episode 18 onward, the real shift in tone actually begins with episode 13, "TRACKS." Although there's a goofy sequence of Simmons shrieking at Coulson in public (with a Stan Lee cameo), the show is more brutal as May encourages a villain to stab her in the shoulder so she can cut the ropes binding her and the episode ends with Skye shot twice in the stomach. There's something shocking about seeing bloodshed in a show that seemed more like GIRL MEETS WORLD or LIV AND MADDIE than it did AVENGERS.

We're truly in different territory as "End of the Beginning" and "Turn Turn Turn" tie into the WINTER SOLDIER feature film in which HYDRA has infiltrated SHIELD since its beginnings to the point where Captain America is forced to dismantle the organization entirely.

Coulson, Fitz, Simmons, Skye, May and Ward never felt like they represented SHIELD; now they truly aren't SHIELD at all. They have been reduced to a malfunctioning plane, scant weapons, Ward is a traitor and Coulson has driven May off the team. Maria Hill shows up to make a full appearance only to establish that the team's textual illegitimacy means they no longer have resources, backups, bases or support outside themselves.

There's a sincerity and a genuine sense of threat here; we've seen how Skye, Fitz and Simmons can only win in a Disney world of easy answers, weak villains and immediate solutions. An episode ending with Ward and Garrett flying the SHIELD jet and the rest of the team sitting nervously around a pool is terrifying.

The "Agents of Nothing" have Coulson attempting to contain a monster of the week and stop Garrett and Ward from finishing their supersoldier program and they face defeat on all sides. Stopping one superpowered villain used to be easy with all of SHIELD; now they're reduced to using spotlights. Fitz and Simmons are sunken to the bottom of the ocean. Garrett is unstoppable: he has Deathlok. He has Ward. He has the SHIELD data. He has a superhuman body.

Most tellingly, Garrett has what the Agents of Nothing have always lacked: he has legitimacy; he can present HYDRA to the US Government as a genuine, above board arms manufacturer through the guise of Cybertek. The Agents of Nothing are outmatched and doomed.

But then Fitz and Simmons find a way to escape the ocean. Skye realizes Garrett is threatening Deathlok's son to secure his compliance and wins Deathlok's aid by saving the boy. And Nick Fury returns.

Samuel L. Jackson had revealed early on that he'd be appearing in the season finale, but even then, AGENTS OF SHIELD manages to make him feel like a surprise. When Fury appears to pull Gemma and Fitz into a helicopter, the downbeat terror of the last four episodes suddenly turns around. Jackson has an instant charisma and he inspires confidence and trust with his effortless appeal.

Jackson's screentime, despite being significant, is clearly designed to excuse the Nick Fury character from any further involvement in the show. He calls Coulson the reason SHIELD works, promotes Coulson to director, gives him the last of SHIELD's resources and leaves the TV show and SHIELD's legacy entirely in Coulson's hands.

It's a shift that finally moves AGENTS OF SHIELD away from being an awkward sequel to AVENGERS that lacks any actual Avengers. Jackson's role serves to hand the torch to Coulson and company and free them to define their own show.

Pod 3 - Season 2, Episodes 1 - 10 - "SHIELD Underground"
In terms of tone, this pod is similar to the Agents of Nothing run. The gang are still underground fugitives, but Fury's resources have allowed them to recruit some new teammates. This smaller scale suits the showrunners' preference for a cast of awkward misfits rather than purely militaristic professionals.

SHIELD's limited resources are played effectively: their military might is an empty show, they win through cleverness and perseverance and while they're fighting HYDRA, the world at large considers any SHIELD agent to be indistinguishable from HYDRA.

For this pod and the next four, SHIELD is not considered a legitimate peacekeeping force or law enforcement agency; they are viewed as criminals -- a great way of deepening the sense that AGENTS OF SHIELD never felt like a genuine extension of the feature films and turning it to the show's advantage. It's a take far more suited to Marvel, a publishing house that's always been more about the underdogs and the rebels than it has about the establishment.

The main focus is on fighting HYDRA, but a larger myth-arc is present as the show presents HYDRA as merely one faction in a long-running conflict involving alien interference in humanity from the dawn of its existence.

Where Season 1 awkwardly attempted impact-free sequels to feature films, Season 2 begins delving into a secret history to the MCU that AGENTS OF SHIELD can explore on its own terms and this pod ends with Skye being revealed to be a comic book character named Daisy Johnson and also to be Gifted.

Pod 4 - Season 2, Episodes 11 - 22 - "Inhumans"
As a whole, the Marvel Cinematic Universe struggled with illegitimacy but to a lesser degree than SHIELD. Despite claiming to be the cinematic representation of Marvel Comics, the MCU didn't have Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, the X-Men or any other characters whose film and TV rights were carelessly sold to FOX and Sony.

The absence of the X-Men left a hole in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a concept, mutants served as a catch-all explanation for how people could have superpowers without needing screentime for origin stories.

SHIELD tried calling mutants "Gifted," but without access to the X-MEN explanation that mutants are the next stage of human evolution, the Gifted concept was a fractured facsimile of the original idea. Jealous of FOX's success with X-MEN, Marvel executive Ike Perlmutter proposed that the INHUMANS concept, featuring a superpowered civilization living on the moon, could compete with the X-MEN cinematically.

It was ridiculous. But AGENTS OF SHIELD, ordered to present the Inhumans concept in their show, rolled with it beautifully: Pod 4 focused on how the Kree alien race had experimented on humans thousands of years ago, resulting a percentage of the human race having the potential to have their Inhuman abilities awakened. Rather than being an awkward photocopy of X-MEN's mutants, Inhumans were now the core mythology for AGENTS OF SHIELD and a legitimate concept for the TV series.

The question of legitimacy was further explored the show revealed that there was a separate faction of SHIELD survivors, apart from Coulson, who considered themselves the real SHIELD and Coulson's team to be impostors using a name and legacy to which they had no genuine claim with Coulson supposedly manipulating everyone to gain a secret weapon.

This ended in a very nice tie-in to AGE OF ULTRON where Coulson's secret weapon turned out to be the airship used to evacuate civilians in the film and the two SHIELD factions united. With a united (but rogue) SHIELD, the Inhumans and HYDRA, the show now felt like a meaningful exploration of its own corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe rather than the timid tie-in it had been before.

Pod 5 - Season 3, Epsiodes 1 - 10 - "Age of Ward"

This pod introduced the Secret Warriors and presented Ward as the primary villain of the series, but for the most part continued with the SHIELD Underground concept even as Inhumans took a larger role.

Interestingly, it's at this point that the fracture between Marvel Films and Marvel TV took place; AGE OF ULTRON's aftermath had led to a break between the two divisions and the CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR screenwriters confessed in interviews that they'd not watched AGENTS OF SHIELD and were unaware of the Inhumans concept.

AGENTS OF SHIELD most determinedly did not need CIVIL WAR to give it direction; it had its own concepts to explore and had plenty to do with Ward becoming the main threat. However, the threat of AGENTS OF SHIELD not being a true part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was again a potential issue. CIVIL WAR was the most significant depiction of the MCU since AGE OF ULTRON and CIVIL WAR didn't have a single line of dialogue acknowledging the rising superhuman population with the Inhumans.
 
Could AGENTS OF SHIELD truly be considered part of the MCU when the main forces of the MCU weren't addressing it?

Pod 6 - Season 3, Episodes 11 - 22 - "Hive"
Despite a brief reference to SHIELD seeking to register its Inhumans cast under CIVIL WAR's superhuman registration act, the "Hive" era, like the "Age of Ward" episodes, didn't tie into the feature films at all. Within the show, SHIELD made one brief bid for reintegration with the US Government only to be dismissed, almost as though the show itself couldn't imagine itself rejoining the AVENGERS and the original presentation of SHIELD as a government organization. SHIELD was more an NGO on the fringes. At one point, the MCH President of the United States appeared to advise Coulson continue SHIELD unofficially. "We'll keep doing what we do," Coulson remarked, "and you'll keep pretending we don't exist." He might as well have been addressing the Marvel film division.

With no direct integration with the new CAPTAIN AMERICA film, this pod had Ward being written out of the show but the actor remaining, Ward's body possessed by the ancient being of power that HYDRA had worshipped and sought to revive.

AGENTS OF SHIELD in the "Fan Fiction" era had felt like an abandoned stepchild of the MCU. Season 2 attempted to make it a neighbour to the AVENGERS films in the MCU neighbourhood. By Season 3, AGENTS OF SHIELD seemed to have genuinely outgrown the AVENGERS films: the Hive storyline had no need for CIVIL WAR at all. What's more, AGENTS OF SHIELD seemed to be on the verge of expanding. Season 2's new cast members, Bobbi and Hunter, had become so popular that Marvel was seeking to launch MARVEL'S MOST WANTED, a spin-off show with them as leads.

It was an excellent pod, marred only by outside issues. AGENT CARTER was tragically cancelled on a cliffhanger and ABC declined to launch MARVEL'S MOST WANTED meaning Bobbi and Hunter had been written out of the show for no good reason.

Pod 7 - Season 4, Episodes 1 - 8 - "Ghost Rider"

It's at this point that analysis seems unnecessary as showrunner Jed Whedon explained his approach to integrating AGENTS OF SHIELD into the MCU. While not addressing rumours that the AOS writers were now relying on trailers and press releases to know what Marvel Film was doing, Whedon described his approach of "thematic" links. The DR. STRANGE film had introduced magic, so AOS could now delve into similar material by exploring the Ghost Rider mythology and the Darkhold book.

Despite the lack of direct continuity references and tie-ins, the "Ghost Rider" pod was a highly successful run of episodes that saw the procedural, systematic approach of the SHIELD cast confronting the ambiguities of mysticism. AGENTS OF SHIELD had been working in its own section of the MCU, but now it felt like it was part of the same world presented in the DR. STRANGE feature film.

Tellingly, this was also the pod in which SHIELD was reintegrated into the US Government, having earned the legitimacy it hadn't back in the first pod, although this wasn't to last for long.

It was in this season that the idea of separate 'pods' within seasons was discussed in showrunner interviews, although Jed Whedon remarked in interviews that Ghost Rider's special effects were so costly that the show could only sustain the character for a brief run.

Pod 8 - Season 4, Episodes 9 - 15 - "LMD"
With the LMD arc, AGENTS OF SHIELD was in many ways invited to contemplate the value of its own concept. In a world of superhumans and the potential for Life Model Decoy androids to replace SHIELD agents in every task, what was the point of having Agents of SHIELD?

As the cast of SHIELD were replaced with LMDs and neither the characters nor the audience knew who to trust, the writers made a fascinating choice to grant the LMD replacements for Coulson and May different degrees of self-awareness. The android May was shocked to discover she was a simulacrum of the real person with all of the real May's emotions and memories while the android Coulson had been aware of his true nature the entire time.

In a strange moment of insight, the android Coulson declared that there was no distinction between the real Coulson, who was currently living in a virtual reality, and the LMD Coulson who was inhabiting the real world.

"My programming is different than yours," the LMD Coulson tells the LMD May. "You had to discover that your body had been replaced -- whereas I still have my mind but know exactly what I am, and more importantly, I understand a basic truth that you don't realize yet. That our bodies don't matter." The LMD Coulson later remarked of his prosthetic hand, "My phantom limb used to ache in cold weather. But now I don't feel that pain. I haven't felt this good in years."

The LMD Coulson was arguing that the question of whether he was less real than the biological Coulson was irrelevant as both were existing as simulations, one as a digital intelligence in a physical reality while the other as a physical body whose consciousness now resided in a digital reality.

To the LMD Coulson, the experience of existence regardless of its nature, whether programmed or biological-- or whether in a Marvel feature film or a Marvel television series -- made no difference because the experiences themselves had left impact, memory and meaning. And the LMD May would come to turn on the LMD Coulson while expressing precisely the same opinion.

"I know I'm not real," says the LMD May who has at this writing never been mentioned or shown in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. "I'm all phantom limbs," she says, accepting that she is not a real person while metatextually highlighting that Melinda May is no more real than Tony Stark or Steve Rogers regardless of the medium they inhabit. "That doesn't make the pain less real," says May, going on to add, "That pain, that regret that's what made you a person a person I love." Her sentiment is meant for the real Coulson as the simulated May does not consider May's feelings a simulation and she sacrifices herself to help Coulson's team enter the VR simulation to rescue him.

Pod 9 - Season 4, Episodes 16 - 22 - "Agents of HYDRA"
The majority of this pod are sent inside a virtual reality simulation which presents a timeline where HYDRA had defeated SHIELD and Coulson and his team live the lives they would have had if HYDRA and triumphed. As we delve into this alternate timeline and we see characters gradually regain their memories, we're invited to consider: does the Framework reality or any events inside it actually matter? What meaning, value or purpose can these situations or people have if they are merely simulations?

It's a question AGENTS OF SHIELD might not benefit from raising because it leads to asking: what value do Seasons 3 - 4 have if they are completely ignored by the feature films? If CIVIL WAR didn't mention the rogue SHIELD operation, if ANT MAN made no reference to the Inhumans, if DR. STRANGE didn't have Coulson show up for a consult, then how can AGENTS OF SHIELD actually matter at all?

It's a question AGENTS OF SHIELD doesn't shy away from at all. At one point, we spend some time getting to know Grant Ward in this alternate timeline where he was recruited by SHIELD instead of HYDRA. With his loyalty to heroes, he never became a villain. It's a beautiful insight into a once irredeemable antagonist and despite this Ward being a simulation, this perspective into his character is not easily forgotten. The Framework situation closes out with Mac pleading to stay in the Framework because a simulation of his deceased daughter exists in the VR. Mac protests that even if his daughter is a simulacrum, she matters to him: she laughs at his jokes, she cries when he does, he feels her warmth and he believes that she's alive.

To be concluded with Pods 10 - 11.

Edited to add commentary to the LMD arc.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Pod 10 - Season 5, Episodes 1 - 10 - "Quaked Apart"
During its fifth season, AGENTS OF SHIELD had a conflicted situation between Marvel Film and Marvel TV. The film division was moving forward with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY II, BLACK PANTHER and INFINITY WAR, but with no interest in creating tie-ins and crossovers with AGENTS OF SHIELD.

But Marvel TV was advancing as well, launching DAREDEVIL, JESSICA JONES, LUKE CAGE and IRON FIST on Netflix. The Netflix shows, unlike the "Fan Fiction" era of AGENTS OF SHIELD, weren't spinning out of a feature film but defining themselves as street level superheroics. Marvel Films made it plain that the AGENTS OF SHIELD and Netflix characters would never be featured in any AVENGERS films.

In response, Marvel TV worked around Marvel Films. The crime and underworld drama of the Netflix shows was so distant from the widescreen heroics of the AVENGERS films that Netflix shows could function, like AGENTS OF SHIELD, in their own corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe sandbox. There were unlikely to be world-changing events in Daredevil's battles with crimelords and corrupt cops.

But AGENTS OF SHIELD didn't have that advantage. AOS had changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe significantly: SHIELD had been sustained as a rogue organization that eventually regained government status, the events of Season 2 had awakened Inhuman powers in random people around the globe. But with no acknowledgement from the AVENGERS films, AGENTS OF SHIELD would perpetually need consider how to depict significant events that wouldn't ever be mentioned by Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Ant Man, Black Panther and Spider-Man.

For this pod, AGENTS OF SHIELD destroyed the Earth -- which is to say the cast were transported to a future time period where the Earth had been destroyed due to Daisy Johnson's powers going out of control. But this was pointedly not the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Like the Framework, this future scenario was presented as a possible future that SHIELD would avert in order to avoid contradicting INFINITY WAR and any subsequent Marvel movies.

Like the Framework, this pod ultimately declared that victory would mean erasing itself from reality, a moral and emotional conflict that was left unresolved and carried over to the next pod. It was an uncomfortable situation shared by the AGENTS OF SHIELD TV show where it needed contribute to the MCU but only in ways that could be safely forgotten by the films.

Pod 11 - Season 5, Episodes 11 - 22 - "Destroyer of Worlds"
With the final pod of Season 5, the cast were returned to the present to prevent the future they saw. This run of episodes saw AGENTS OF SHIELD suffering from its greatest threat which was not Loki or HYDRA or LMDs or the Kree but instead, the severity of ABC's budget cuts.

The show had barely won a fifth season and made it by slashing the licensing fee which meant fewer resources. The previous pod had dodged the difficulties by setting the show in a post-apocalyptic human settlement of poor living conditions with a few special effects sequences to establish the outer space setting.

This pod, however, was using the same sets as the one before but redressed to be new and clean. Set in the present, it was hard to ignore how the lavish location filming and numerous extras of Seasons 1 - 4 were now missing. Coulson and his team spent most of this pod walking slowly through empty hallways confronting masked thugs (whose masks allowed the same three actors to be reused as different henchmen).

There was also the looming AVENGERS III. This movie, INFINITY WAR, saw Thanos attacking Earth and erasing 50 per cent of all living beings from existence. This threat, if carried into AGENTS OF SHIELD, would necessitate that the show lose a random number of its contracted cast members due to a conflict in which they'd had no involvement.

The polite co-existence shown in referring to CIVIL WAR and thematic tie-ins to DR. STRANGE and GUARDIANS was not an option. But if AGENTS OF SHIELD wasn't going to react to INFINITY WAR's cataclysm upon the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, how could it claim to be part of the same shared reality?

During this run, the show had a dimensional rift presenting manifestations of the characters' worst fears. Agent Coulson was assailed by a phantom of Mike Peterson, the first person he'd ever saved in the show.

This spectre of Mike asked Coulson to consider his deepest terror -- that AGENTS OF SHIELD might be apocryphal to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

MIKE: "Hello, Agent Coulson. It’s time I told you what’s really going on here."

COULSON: "You’re not here to hurt me? You’re going to let me pass?"

MIKE: "Do whatever you want. Shoot me if you like. After all, you’re the one that’s making this up. But you know there’s something deeper. And you’re here to face it."

COULSON: "Face my fear?"

MIKE: "How am I your fear, Phil? No, I mean face facts."

COULSON: "What facts?"

MIKE: "That this is all in your head."

COULSON: "Are you telling me that that I’m still in TAHITI?"

MIKE: "No, Coulson. I’m telling you that you’ve never been to TAHITI. Or Malta. Or Puerto Rico or outer space or the Framework or the future. You’re on the table, Coulson, code blue."

COULSON: "Okay, Phil, back to work. Don’t pay attention. This makes no sense."

MIKE: "What makes more sense? That you were brought back from the dead after many days? Your mind programmed with false memories? A world with alternate realities and rocks that tear holes in spacetime? Or is your brain is being stimulated with electricity to revive it, and your consciousness is trying to make sense of random synapses firing off in your brain?"

COULSON: "That’s not true."

MIKE: "You know it’s true. Loki ran a scepter through your heart, and we are desperately trying to bring you back. But isn’t working."

COULSON: "No, no, no, no. No, I’ve been through too much. I’m not going to let this nightmare get to me."

At no point is this scenario presented as a narrative possibility. The moment the phantom Mike tells Coulson that the entire show has been a hallucination, we cut to the rest of his team observing the situation on video monitors.

But the fear manifestation's argument is easily read as a comment on AGENTS OF SHIELD's relationship with the feature films. The existence-threatening stakes of INFINITY WAR dwarf AGENTS OF SHIELD, making the battle to save one planet trivial.

MIKE: "This whole thing has been a dream. You really think your skull caught on fire, Phil? Or does it hurt to have electrodes on your scalp for this long? You think there was an alternate reality where you were a history teacher? Or were you remembering your father who was a history teacher? You’re reliving mementos of your life mixed with the dreams you wish had come true.

COULSON: "No, Mike. This is fear. I thought I’d come to terms with death, but this is my fear of it manifesting, because it’s harder to let go of than I thought it would be."

MIKE: "And that’s why your mind created this story where you spent years doing all the things you never got a chance to do. To vacation on a white beach with blue water. To travel to the stars. To own your own plane, a car that flies, your own team. To have a family. The brilliant students you never got a chance to mentor. The daughter you never had. And above all, a chance to be a hero."

COULSON: "No, I’m not trying to be a hero. I’m just here to see that SHIELD continues."

MIKE: "There is no SHIELD. Even now, your mind is rejecting the fact that I’m just an EMT standing over you. It’s trying to make me into something else. It’s trying to find a way out."

COULSON: "You don’t know what those people mean to me. Don’t say they’re nothing. Don’t say that."

The sequence ends with the real Mike Peterson coming to Coulson's rescue, validating AGENTS OF SHIELD and Coulson's experiences. The final episodes in this pod took place at the same time as INFINITY WAR -- but decisively ended the season before INFINITY WAR's cliffhanger, sparing the SHIELD characters any onscreen involvement.

The pod concluded with Coulson setting out to enjoy his retirement while the remaining SHIELD team flew off to new adventures. On one level, there was an awkward sense that this happy ending would be eradicated with INFINITY WAR's conclusion, but on another, AGENTS OF SHIELD had argued that relationships, emotional bonds and meaningful moments had weight and value even if they were to be wiped out of existence by the Framework simulation shutting down or a future timeline being averted or a supervillain wielding an Infinity Gauntlet.

The Legacy of Spies
AGENTS OF SHIELD is likely to be the most irrelevant Marvel Cinematic Universe production among all of them, averaging 1.8 to 2 million viewers by its final season and never acknowledged by the feature films. Its lack of impact has been bemoaned by star Chloe Bennett and addressed diplomatically by showrunner Jed Whedon. The short ONE SHOT films on the Blu-rays likely had a larger audience.

But AGENTS OF SHIELD is, despite being situated in a superhero universe, a series about characters in espionage. Its lesser status brings to mind the old adage that spies have been honoured and spies have been hanged, but for the most part, spies have been ignored.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

I genuinely enjoyed reading this.  Agents of SHIELD is a series that I've watched every episode of but haven't watched particularly closely.  It's often something I watch while I'm doing something else (playing on my laptop, folding laundry, cooking or eating dinner, etc).  I watch the show closely enough to very easily follow the plot, but I was surprised at how few of the (several) early season references I'd completely forgotten.  The show had so many random villains that I couldn't really place references to certain ones, and I'm sure some of the Easter eggs went completely over my head (the centipede serum being connected with a season 1 villainous organization was lost on me).

But I enjoyed going back through the show with your writing - it's not a show I've ever gone back to (or, honestly, considered going back) so I actually only remember the show being strong and its own thing.  I have visuals of SHIELD before Winter Soldier, but I could just-as-easily be getting that confused with items from Winter Soldier itself.

SHIELD was a bastard son, created in a lab, that ended up making something of himself.  Once the show stripped itself of so much of it's baggage, connected to its older brothers, the show was able to walk freely.  And while the show still feels a part of Tony Stark's world, it's separated enough that it's reasonable that the two worlds wouldn't touch.

What's fascinating, to me, is the behind-the-scenes stuff.  For example, I find it odd that the show came out when it did.  Was it designed to run for half a season of "standard SHIELD stuff" before blowing the show up?  Was that by design?  Or were TV and Films always so disconnected that, when Agents of SHIELD was announced, Films laughed at the idea that they were going to blow up their show midway through their first season?

Or were things once better?  When Sif, Maria Hill, and Nick Fury showed up, was there still a dream for Marvel Films and Marvel TV to have a beautiful marriage?  Was there ever a conversation with, I don't know, Chris Evans, to shoot some sort of cameo while he was filming Avengers 2?  Was there a dream of introducing a character here or there that might show up to help out Tony Stark in some future movie?

Or was it somewhere in the middle, where Marvel TV decided to do something, and Marvel Films wished them the best, offering them whatever help they could until things fell apart and each went their separate way?

I find it hard to believe that Marvel Films wouldn't see the value of having a TV playground to play in, but that seems to be where things went.  I don't think they'd necessarily need to agree on specific episode-specific plots, but you'd think that they'd want some insight on what's happening in their various shows.  I guess not, though.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

I find it odd that the show came out when it did.  Was it designed to run for half a season of "standard SHIELD stuff" before blowing the show up?  Was that by design?  Or were TV and Films always so disconnected that, when Agents of SHIELD was announced, Films laughed at the idea that they were going to blow up their show midway through their first season?

What follows is largely speculation:

My suspicion is that Ike Perlmutter wanted Marvel to have TV shows to propogate the brand, expand opportunities for merchandising and get paid by a network to produce content rather than having his own studio finance the content.

I don't think AGENTS OF SHIELD was conceived in terms of creativity because I don't believe Perlmutter sees anything in terms of creative content. It was a product like the toys he sold on street corners when he was scraping by. The fact that the SHIELD concept was slated for demolition was irrelevant to him.

And Joss Whedon, our favourite fake feminist, having seen two TV shows crash and burn, was looking for an opportunity to return to his medium of choice. Whedon confessed that AGENTS OF SHIELD was a show made with "leftovers" from the film department and said that Coulson's resurrection on TV didn't allow him to rejoin the film series. Whedon gamely tried his best with the AOS pilot which features some hilarious jokes and heartfelt writing, but the script lacked a clear vision for how the SHIELD of big budget feature films could be done on a TV budget.

I suspect that the poor production on the early episodes were due to confusion. Joss Whedon had planned to run the show like BUFFY where he would oversee and rewrite all scripts. Instead, he ran SHIELD the way he ran ANGEL: a subordinate worked with the writers and ran the scripts past Whedon, but Whedon lacked the time to rewrite or do anything beyond vetoing the show from using concepts for which the movies had plan.

There was also the issue that Whedon, judging from his script for AVENGERS, viewed SHIELD rather ambivalently. Captain America was suspicious of Fury and thought him potentially a conflict-seeking warmonger; Fury himself was in conflict with the World Security Council. But suggesting that SHIELD had dark secrets or malevolent intentions would be paving the way to the reveal that HYDRA had infiltrated SHIELD -- which AOS couldn't be allowed to do because WINTER SOLDIER was in development.

With WINTER SOLDIER being written and filmed over the course of a year and AOS episodes being made in a week's time, there was the risk that AOS' hints and clues might not line up with however WINTER SOLDIER would reveal HYDRA behind SHIELD. There had already been difficulties: Whedon said in interviews that the writers had developed an arc featuring Loki's scepter -- which Whedon later had to stop as it was being used in AGE OF ULTRON. One can understand why the writers tried to play it safe for awhile.

The early episodes suffer from that confusion: is the show a comedy or a spy thriller? Are the team professionals or amateurs? Are they a family or at odds? Are they superheroes or are they police officers? How much can the episodes play with the movie concepts?

AOS didn't seem ready to make these decisions and with ideas getting shot down and airdates to meet, the staff likely decided to do one-off villains and wait out the situation. The early episodes are full of overly bright lighting and confused character dynamics and odd comedy choices. It's like watching first drafts get filmed and rehearsals get aired. It gives the sense that the creators didn't know how lighthearted or serious their show was to be and the person they expected to make those decisions was busy making AGE OF ULTRON.

I'm guessing that halfway into the season, some serious workflow revisions were made: Joss Whedon ceded control to Jed Whedon. A darker tone was chosen, and the WINTER SOLDIER tie-ins allowed the show to divorce the TV SHIELD from the feature film SHIELD. The show would develop its own mythos so as to never again be barred from plot progression by a film.

It would be interesting to know: did the writers grasp from the outset that Coulson's team made no sense? His roster consisted of an untrained hacktivist, two scientists with no field clearance, an assassin with no capacity for teamwork and an office administrator who didn't want to fight anymore. A paramilitary security force like SHIELD as seen in the films would never approve such an unbalanced group of mismatched unprofessionals. No spy agency would sanction such an incapable group or have them led by a partially amnesiac trauma patient whose memories and sanity couldn't be trusted.

In "Turn Turn Turn," the writers provide an explanation: May chose the team and manipulated Coulson into selecting the specific individuals needed to assist him in his post-TAHITI condition: Jemma could treat his body, Fitz could reengineer his memories, Ward could kill him if he went insane like the other TAHITI patients and Skye was completely unexpected. Was that reveal always planned? Or was it to address an obvious flaw in the material resulting from wanting a product before deciding the content?

Other Marvel TV productions like IRON FIST and INHUMANS were commissioned in a similar fashion: product first, content later. Sadly, those projects seemed to lack the staff or vision needed to turn them around, or at least IRON FIST did. I haven't seen INHUMANS and I think barely anyone did.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

That actually makes a lot of sense.  There was originally going to be a Whedon tie-in to keep the movies and the show connected, but when Whedon didn't have time or energy for it, the connection weakened.  And when Whedon left, it was completely severed.

Thinking about the timeline also works in why the Film division might've seen value in AoS and then realized that they don't really bring much.  Agents of SHIELD premiered in September of 2013.  At that point, the only Phase Two movie that had come out was Iron Man 3.  Thor: The Dark World was coming.

At this point, the MCU wasn't really a success.  Phase One was a mixed bag, both creatively and financially.  Of the 19 current MCU films, Avengers is the only movie that's even in the Top 10 of Box Office numbers, and Phase One is 4 of the 6 lowest rated movies on Rotten Tomatoes.  The films were picking up steam, but they weren't the guaranteed blockbuster that they are now.  Iron Man 3 had just come out, and while it was a commercial success (5th highest grossing MCU film), it was rated by fans and critics around the same level as the other solo films (outside of the first Iron Man).

Marvel Films might've seen Agents of SHIELD as a way to drive people to their movies.  We saw direct tie-ins to both Winter Soldier and Thor: the Dark World.  We saw minor characters from those films appear on SHIELD.  They were able to show tons of promos and advertise to a core audience.

I think Winter Soldier could've changed their minds a bit.  It was a critical success, and it got a lot of people talking about how it was a legitimately good movie.  The next movie was a bit of a wild card in Guardians of the Galaxy, and it did well.  Suddenly, the MCU had some street cred, and they realize that they don't need the show to drive the audience.

The next season, they did the cool background storyline with the Helicarrier, but it was really just a nod to AoS fans (not much more).  But there was no tie-in to Ant-Man, and by that point, the MCU was rolling along well enough that Civil War could make as much as an Avengers movie.  There was no reason to use SHIELD's dwindling audience to drive people to movies that more-than-succeeded on their own.

And by that point, SHIELD was doing enough stuff on their own that it wouldn't have made sense to have Sif show up again.  I'm sure they would've loved if someone like Paul Rudd showed up, but it would've seemed forced.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

ireactions wrote:

With the LMD arc, AGENTS OF SHIELD was in many ways invited to contemplate the value of its own concept. In a world of superhumans and the potential for Life Model Decoy androids to replace SHIELD agents in every task, what was the point of having Agents of SHIELD? As the cast of SHIELD were replaced with LMDs and neither the characters nor the audience knew who to trust, viewers wondered how this pod tied into the question of whether or not AOS was truly part of the MCU and realized that it probably wasn't all that relevant to the thesis. Damn.

Actually, I found a spin!!

Pod 8 - Season 4, Episodes 9 - 15 - "LMD"
With the LMD arc, AGENTS OF SHIELD was in many ways invited to contemplate the value of its own concept. In a world of superhumans and the potential for Life Model Decoy androids to replace SHIELD agents in every task, what was the point of having Agents of SHIELD?

As the cast of SHIELD were replaced with LMDs and neither the characters nor the audience knew who to trust, the writers made a fascinating choice to grant the LMD replacements for Coulson and May different degrees of self-awareness. The android May was shocked to discover she was a simulacrum of the real person with all of the real May's emotions and memories while the android Coulson had been aware of his true nature the entire time.

In a strange moment of insight, the android Coulson declared that there was no distinction between the real Coulson, who was currently living in a virtual reality, and the LMD Coulson who was inhabiting the real world.

"My programming is different than yours," the LMD Coulson tells the LMD May. "You had to discover that your body had been replaced -- whereas I still have my mind but know exactly what I am, and more importantly, I understand a basic truth that you don't realize yet. That our bodies don't matter." The LMD Coulson later remarked of his prosthetic hand, "My phantom limb used to ache in cold weather. But now I don't feel that pain. I haven't felt this good in years."

The LMD Coulson was arguing that the question of whether he was less real than the biological Coulson was irrelevant as both were existing as simulations, one as a digital intelligence in a physical reality while the other as a physical body whose consciousness now resided in a digital reality.

To the LMD Coulson, the experience of existence regardless of its nature, whether programmed or biological-- or whether in a Marvel feature film or a Marvel television series -- made no difference because the experiences themselves had left impact, memory and meaning. And the LMD May would come to turn on the LMD Coulson while expressing precisely the same opinion.

"I know I'm not real," says the LMD May who has at this writing never been mentioned or shown in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. "I'm all phantom limbs," she says, accepting that she is not a real person while metatextually highlighting that Melinda May is no more real than Tony Stark or Steve Rogers regardless of the medium they inhabit. "That doesn't make the pain less real," says May, going on to add, "That pain, that regret that's what made you a person a person I love." Her sentiment is meant for the real Coulson as the simulated May does not consider May's feelings a simulation and she sacrifices herself to help Coulson's team enter the VR simulation to rescue him.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

There's a hilarious line in AGENTS OF SHIELD, Season 3, Episode 11, "Bouncing Back," where Coulson tells the President: "We'll keep doing what we do and you'll keep pretending we don't exist."

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

There's a hilarious moment in Season 4, Episode 16, "What If... ?" in which Dr. Radcliffe runs into Grant Ward and shrieks, "Hive!" before realizing it's a Framework simulation of Ward. I know it's a small thing, but it always stands out to me because SLIDERS was so spectacularly bad at it. I remember this particularly obnoxious moment in Season 4, "Slide By Wire," where Rembrandt doesn't seem to know who Maggie's husband is despite spending two episodes around the guy in Season 3.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

I'm watching the AGENTS OF HYDRA era of AGENTS OF SHIELD set inside the Framework and what strikes me is how the show is almost relentlessly dark, but there are tiny little glimmers of light and hope throughout. Jemma has to dig herself out of her own grave; Fitz is a sadistic nutjob; Daisy woke up to find Grant Ward in her bed; HYDRA rules America; SHIELD has fallen; May is a monstrosity; Coulson turns Jemma in as a subversive while allowing children to be taken to concentration camps -- but at the end, Daisy pleads for Coulson to remember her and the final line of dialogue is Coulson whispering, "Daisy?"

A subsequent episode has Fitz executing a defenseless woman and Daisy captured, but there's a small moment of Coulson silently discovering he has muscle memory for handling firearms. The next episode has Jeffrey Mace dying in an airstrike and all exits from the Framework cut off, but it ends with the HYDRA version of May regaining her morality and triggering Daisy's Inhuman powers. AGENTS OF SHIELD can be very bleak, but there's always just enough light to make the darkness seem bearable.