Over the past few years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated box offices, easily earning millions on each opening weekend. So when ABC announced in 2012 that it would be developing a TV show focusing on the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the super secret spy organization that made its first appearance in “Iron Man,” fans were excited.
The series had the potential to feature characters from the movies and promised to explore elements of the larger MCU that the films do not usually touch upon.
For the most part, Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” has kept up that promise since it premiered in September 2013. The show has had two episodes that tie in with the “Thor” cinematic universe, but it was not until “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” came out that the series exercised its relationship with its bigger and more expensive cousins.
The events of “Winter Soldier” had big ramifications for the remainder of the show’s season — not to mention the Marvel Universe at large — and the result is a much more interesting show.
When “S.H.I.E.L.D.” first debuted, it felt like a formulaic procedural that simply functioned within the larger fascinating MCU, leaving important questions — like what resurrected the supposedly dead Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) — barely answered.
Now, with the film’s energy to play with, the show is reenergized, finally able to present what the first half of the season set up.
The show’s new life is extremely exciting for Marvel fans, but it raises interesting questions about the future of popular film franchises and television in general.
While Marvel has been releasing movies almost every year, it is a great idea to compound these with a more consistent TV show. In addition to keeping audiences invested in the universe, “S.H.I.E.L.D.” draws new fans to the movies.
By the end of its first 22-episode season alone, “S.H.I.E.L.D.” will have produced more episodes than movies created by Marvel Studios. The series has developed the world these movies exist in and has set up possible events for future films giving the movies a little more room to play with. But, more storylines in the show cause problems for audiences who only watch the films.
Unfortunately, the series’ viewership numbers suggest that only diehard Marvel fans are watching. “S.H.I.E.L.D.” was a pretty lackluster television show to begin with because it could not initially infringe upon what happens in the movies.
So far we have only seen “S.H.I.E.LD.” react to events on the big screen. Perhaps the series should explore Marvel’s comic universe, rather than just the cinematic one. This venture would allow the films to draw on things from the TV show, acknowledging the further reaches of Marvel’s vast universe that can not all fit on film.
Hopefully, if the show is picked up for a second season, it will rely more on the comics and lean less heavily on the films.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 17 print edition. Nivea Serrao is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.