Marvel Entertainment faithfully delivers for its fan base. After "The Avengers" grossed well over a billion worldwide, Marvel announced director Joss Whedon's latest project: "S.H.I.E.L.D.," a TV series that will air on ABC. The show will detail the adventures of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) agents in the Marvel Universe. While Whedon stressed that the show must focus on original characters, this geek-popular director rarely disappoints his fan base.
What do Marvel and Whedon fans expect from a show about S.H.I.E.L.D. agents?
Phil Coulson character development
Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) plays a pivotal role in "The Avengers" and Marvel's phase one solo Avengers movies. Coulson is assigned to investigate and handle the discovery, arrival, and missions of the existing Avengers; he's there when Thor (Chris Hemsworth) comes to New Mexico, and he's constantly trying to get in touch with Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) about the Avengers Initiative --though Tony has an aversion to being handed things.
In "The Avengers," it's established through his conversations with Tony and Pepper (Gwynyth Paltrow) that Coulson has a relationship of some sort with a cellist in Portland. Hopefully the show will expand upon this.
The 'Coulson Lives!' stickers seen throughout cities, at conventions, and on fans' backpacks, cars, and notebooks are indicative of Coulson's popularity with the fans. Coulson does for fans what he does for The Avengers -- he makes fans care and gives us a cause.
Strong female leadsAs a fan of the Whedonverse, I've come to admire the way Whedon consciously crafts strong female leads. From "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer" to "Firefly" and beyond, Whedon constantly supports capable female leads. As a long-time fan of Whedon's shows, his influence on the Marvel Universe helped me finally feel like there was a place for me as a comic book movie fan.
In October, it was announced that Ming-Na was cast in the show, indicating that "S.H.I.E.L.D." will meet this expectation.
Cameos and extra endingsMarvel movies feature two distinguishing characteristics: Extra ending footage and cameos. Additional endings include footage that 'hints' at new heroes or villains from upcoming movies or fun-loving, goofy footage beloved by fans. (If you've seen "The Avengers," you totally get this.)
Although TV shows may feature preview footage from upcoming episodes, including extended footage is an unusual format. It's time to change that. Additionally, if the extra footage is aired after the final commercial break, it could mean higher ad revenue for the show.
Marvel movies usually feature cameo appearances. Typically, character co-creator and Marvel godfather Stan Lee appears in most Marvel films, video games, and animated adventures. Additionally, heroes and villains commonly show up in each other's movies, such as when Coulson almost charged Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) with the task of shooting Thor in "Thor."
It's possible that Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) will show up in the series. While cameos from any of the Avengers are unlikely, fans would enjoy them, and they would certainly remedy any possible ratings slumps.
Continuity, references, and detailsOther elements of continuity are also expected. In Whedon's show "Firefly," events that occurred in the previous episode affect the next. This encourages a more realistic portrayal and allows fans to connect with the characters. This is also extremely consistent with the more recent Marvel comics and films.
Marvel and Whedon fans alike expect details, inside jokes, and geeky references. In Puente Antiguo, the fictional New Mexico town featured in "Thor," did you notice that the water tower declares it "home of the Vikings" or that a travel billboard encourages consumers to "Journey Into Mystery?" These details are what encourage Marvel and Whedon fans to re-watch TV episodes and films dozens of times. Hopefully, "S.H.I.E.L.D." will include loads of references to Avengers and their associates.
Character deaths and failed relationshipsLoving Joss Whedon's work always comes with a price. Fans understand this. Once you love a particular character or their interaction and relationship with other characters, it's not guaranteed -- it being the safety and security of said character and her relationships. Whedon is notorious for creating strife, conflict, drama, and even introducing death as means of extreme character development and intense plot.
Other hintsThe solo "Avengers" movies scripts are very specific about S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Even though many of the agents don't have speaking roles, they get named in some of the scripts.
Marvel one-shots (short films) often feature S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. "Item 47" details the recovery of energy weapons following "The Avengers" and "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer" shows what happens to two would-be convenience store robbers who encounter Agent Coulson and a bag of flour. The action-packed yet humorous tone is consistent with the existing Whedonverse -- and I hope to see more of it in "S.H.I.E.L.D."
The Marvel Universe grants endless possibilities for "S.H.I.E.L.D." Perhaps Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) can travel into the future; maybe the series will reveal more information on the work Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has done on the Einstein-Rosen Bridge. Perhaps scientists tackle the ethics of re-animating Howard Stark (John Slattery). What will happen next?