Binge Guide

Weekly Binge: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

by | September 4, 2014 | Comments

The interconnected films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have given us an impressive list of superheroes, but it also introduced us to Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), an unassuming (but extremely effective) agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson, who quickly became a fan favorite, appears in four Marvel movies, including The Avengers, and is the central character of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ABC’s 2013 TV series focusing on some of the background players of the Marvel Universe.

Here’s everything you need to know to catch up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D before it returns for season two on Sept. 23.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

What’s the premise? Following the events of The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson assembles a handpicked team of the agency’s “best and brightest” to investigate unusual phenomena in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “But wait,” you’re thinking, “in The Avengers, wasn’t there a scene with Coulson and Loki, where Loki –” Yes, we know that scene. And Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. addresses that and a few other Marvel movies over the course of its first season.

What’s it like? Early in the first season, the show feels a bit like a mystery-of-the-week spy show — a quirky team of agents solving the week’s big case while engaging in witty banter, peppered with some references to events happening in the bigger movie universe. There are a couple of references to character backstories, but the first few episodes feel like they’re missing a defining arc; despite some hints at a bigger story, each week’s immediate case takes center stage in every episode. It all starts to come together about halfway through the season, right around the time that Bill Paxton shows up as a semi-regular character. When the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier cross over into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, the early hints and bigger stories really pay off, and you’ll be glad you stuck with the show.

Where can I see it? Season one will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray September 9 and is currently streaming on Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, and iTunes.

How long will it take? The first season contains 22 episodes, and each one is about 45 minutes long, so that works out to about 16 1/2 hours of TV. That’s either one marathon weekend viewing binge, or you can watch a couple of episodes a day and be done in just over a week.

What do the critics think? For the most part, the critics were cautiously optimistic. Moving the bombastic Marvel Cinematic Universe to TV came with some pitfalls: The show leaves out the major superheroes and instead focuses on the movie universe’s supporting players, and on a TV budget. Writing for HitFix, Alan Sepinwall said, “It’s… okay — quippy in that pleasingly distinctive Joss Whedon way, with a few intriguing ideas about life in a superhero world, but with a cheap look and mostly bland supporting characters.” Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz was a little bit more forgiving, saying “The show embraces its relative smallness, building much of the action around knowing banter and the occasional close-quarters fistfight.” But most critics echoed Christopher Orr of the Atlantic, who wrote, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. looks ready — at least judging from the pilot — to hew a solid middle path between The Avengers and Buffy.” As a result, the first season ended up Certified Fresh at 86 percent.

Why should I watch this? Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s secret weapons. He keeps that universe grounded, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gives him some great foils. Although the major superheroes are missing, Coulson’s fellow agents May, Fitz, and Simmons are solid characters in their own right. And if Ward and Skye are a bit bland at the beginning of the season, the show makes them a lot more interesting as the season continues.

What’s my next step? If you’re late to the Whedon party, then you should try of one his many shows, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly or Dollhouse. Or if you like the idea of government agents dealing with fantastical cases, try The X-Files, Warehouse 13, Fringe or Sleepy Hollow.

If you really want to get the best sense of how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, try this order:

  • 1. The Avengers movie
  • 2. Iron Man 3
  • 3. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes 1 though 7
  • 4. Thor: The Dark World
  • 5. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes 8 though 16
  • 6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • 7. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes 17 through 22

Are you excited to check out Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Tell us why

Tag Cloud

halloween Trailer Musicals festivals 71st Emmy Awards Rocky Disney streaming service free movies natural history sports ITV Endgame sag awards MSNBC HBO X-Men game of thrones CBS Biopics directors Summer First Reviews Rock blockbuster Martial Arts rotten movies we love Election ratings TruTV TCA Countdown nature true crime aliens FOX Sneak Peek 45 Mystery Mudbound IFC Films dc Quiz SundanceTV justice league based on movie Hallmark Rom-Com Amazon Prime Video YA Lifetime stand-up comedy Ellie Kemper Elton John Bravo Black History Month DirecTV Sundance E3 Grammys anime adventure Toys Epix Opinion sitcom zero dark thirty Adult Swim war Music Rocketman Spike name the review The Walking Dead zombie Avengers franchise Cosplay Tubi cops Masterpiece Character Guide movie binge cancelled TV shows witnail discovery 2015 Comedy A&E RT History quibi Britbox comics Family movies 2017 Binge Guide PaleyFest unscripted singing competition dceu 21st Century Fox Holidays ABC Family Superheroe Film Captain marvel Sci-Fi technology Lifetime Christmas movies DC Comics Super Bowl Amazon Prime Pride Month werewolf sequel green book what to watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt DC Universe YouTube Awards Freeform Showtime screen actors guild crime drama GIFs Ghostbusters Fox News politics doctor who award winner SXSW VH1 Vudu Ovation TIFF Writers Guild of America Tarantino Shudder Travel Channel Thanksgiving Superheroes The Purge Universal Winter TV travel theme song San Diego Comic-Con Emmy Nominations DC streaming service strong female leads MTV Apple Crackle Chilling Adventures of Sabrina CMT Sony Pictures TNT LGBT jamie lee curtis spanish language Premiere Dates SDCC 2020 Nominations Arrowverse batman reboot cats Peacock The Arrangement Netflix Christmas movies Mindy Kaling Walt Disney Pictures spinoff CBS All Access Action cooking Reality Competition National Geographic NYCC Funimation breaking bad Turner Classic Movies spain canceled TV shows crime streaming Lucasfilm Marvel History romantic comedy comiccon vampires Animation YouTube Red Pirates serial killer Pixar FX robots Emmys disaster psycho Fantasy versus Crunchyroll 007 romance Valentine's Day Academy Awards BET Nickelodeon Stephen King Interview miniseries Marvel Television 2018 BBC ABC Pop Apple TV+ Netflix Extras APB harry potter screenings crime thriller Pet Sematary Comedy Central BBC America casting Anna Paquin Red Carpet Calendar adaptation Television Academy television Kids & Family Heroines Infographic Hallmark Christmas movies Reality scary movies MCU slashers thriller zombies revenge El Rey composers transformers finale USA ESPN Polls and Games 2016 facebook richard e. Grant PBS 24 frames canceled cancelled TV series tv talk Syfy LGBTQ Winners cars hispanic talk show Film Festival CW Seed First Look Oscars Awards Tour Holiday mutant independent foreign President Best and Worst universal monsters FX on Hulu NBC dramedy dogs 20th Century Fox Drama See It Skip It Discovery Channel Star Trek crossover Amazon Studios science fiction Disney Plus Baby Yoda Logo The Witch Country cancelled television Watching Series GoT Disney Acorn TV Esquire Set visit Classic Film social media documentary Columbia Pictures political drama AMC renewed TV shows cinemax Podcast GLAAD Warner Bros. FXX TV Land video Women's History Month Video Games docudrama anthology children's TV Mary poppins spider-man latino Comic Book comic cancelled OneApp Starz TV renewals Paramount period drama TLC Hulu Disney+ Disney Plus Trivia Nat Geo TV mockumentary Song of Ice and Fire book Star Wars animated Marvel Studios spy thriller historical drama Black Mirror blaxploitation Food Network Western OWN HBO Max Brie Larson elevated horror TCA 2017 medical drama Certified Fresh cartoon Fall TV Photos Christmas WGN Teen Trophy Talk Cannes cults Horror boxoffice USA Network biography TCM TBS kids diversity supernatural New York Comic Con RT21 Year in Review police drama Tumblr American Society of Cinematographers psychological thriller Pop TV golden globes YouTube Premium space Sundance Now Cartoon Network Lionsgate Sundance TV Disney Channel VICE WarnerMedia dragons A24 Spectrum Originals indie TCA Winter 2020 teaser Amazon Creative Arts Emmys ghosts Chernobyl The CW south america toy story christmas movies Paramount Network Shondaland Tomatazos game show CNN series Turner hist IFC Comics on TV Dark Horse Comics Mary Tyler Moore Mary Poppins Returns E! reviews Marathons 2019 Box Office Musical DGA joker Spring TV Apple TV Plus Schedule