S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 Review!
In 2008, a ‘Phil Coulson’ would approach Pepper Potts and tell her that he represents an organization called the ‘Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.’ It’s a mouthful. He knows. They are ‘working on it.’ No need, Phil. Your acronym game is strong. A couple months later, Tony Stark would walk into a bar and inform a very grumpy General Ross that ‘they were putting a team together.’ Who is? In 2011, a funny thing happened on the way to Thor’s hammer. Phil Coulson and his mysterious crew would show up again, this time in New Mexico, because they heard some weird shit was going down. ‘Bring Clint with you on this one.’ Just a day in the life of a SHIELD agent. Wait. What’s SHIELD? Jump back to 1942, a young Steve Rogers is recruited by the ‘Strategic Scientific Reserve’ (SSR) as part of a classified United States sanctioned ‘super soldier’ program, designed to combat the Nazi special weapons division HYDRA. (Later attempts to recreate this formula would create the ‘Hulk’ and the ‘Abomination.’) From that patchwork, SHIELD would rise. 1989: Hank Pym resigns from SHIELD after discovering they were attempting to replicate his shrinking technology without his permission. 2012: SHIELD loses control of a powerful energy source known as the ‘Tesseract,’ which sets off a chain of events that would result in an alien race attacking New York City. (The Avengers cleaned that one up.) 2014: SHIELD goes public. It is discovered that the organization known as HYDRA was never actually defeated, but established itself deep in the foundation of SHIELD. Infinity Gems. World domination. Aliens. To sum up… The MCU is a wild place and SHIELD is the one standing in the shadows, keeping the lights on. Well, that’s the way it should be…
For me, the beauty of the SHIELD (and Phil Coulson) has always been the fact that they don’t really exist. The AVENGERS are the ones flying overhead. SHIELD is everywhere and no one even knows they exist. They show up to your testing facility in New Mexico, confiscate your life’s work and then disappear. Tony Stark invents technology that could revolutionize weapon technology and they show up to check it out. They are the shadowy figures shifting through the rubble after the ‘New York Incident.’ Maybe you would see a photo of Coulson in an article about some random ‘tech based billionaire’ who was mysteriously killed in a factory explosion at their private facility in the North Pole. They are the secret agents that even the secret agents don’t know about. They take their whiskey neat. They have a secret passageway into the White House. They have a space station orbiting Earth because ‘you never know.’ They fly to Egypt in the morning to check out some red gem driving people crazy and end their day checking in on reports of ‘ninjas in Hell’s Kitchen.’ They’ll recruit a brilliant mathematician to help them win a horse race. They’ll draft a video game junkie because there’s a plot to hide a deadly computer virus in the code of a cellphone game. They save the world, wake up and do it again. That’s who SHIELD has always been for me. I’ll tell you who they aren’t? They’re not a public organization that invest 100% of their time babysitting the global emergence of a powerful new super powered race. What’s cool about that?
Right out of the gate, Season 3 of SHIELD felt sloppy. After the global release of Terrigen into the world’s ‘fish oil’ supply, out of control Inhumans are popping up everywhere. A government agency called the ATCU has been charged with containing the budding species before they can cause too much damage. Someone has to ensure the safety of the Inhumans. Someone has to stop an ancient Inhuman god from taking over the planet. This sounds like a job for SHIELD! No it does not. This is where the comic and the cinematic universes diverge. SHIELD should not be the one handling the ‘Inhumans’ situation. In the comics, the world’s government is not completely inept. SHIELD isn’t the only organization out there equipped to handle these types of problems. They are everywhere, solving all the problems at once. “Bobbi and Daisy, I need you in Guam. Some scientist is experimenting with inter dimensional teleportation. Hunter and Mack, someone is flooding the black market with Chitauri tech. Daisy, assemble your team and take out that Inhuman god trying to destroy the planet.” SHIELD, in the MCU, is established as the only competent agency in their universe. Which drains all the potential of what this show could be. Every episode of SHIELD should be an entirely new case. There is more going on than Inhumans. There has to be. Have Coulson take a vacation day and end up getting swept up in a plot to resurrect an ancient Mayan demigod. The next episode, have May taking out a group of genetically enhanced mobsters in New York City. If the events in SHIELD aren’t going to impact the movies and if the events in the movies are barely going to impact the show, then stop trying to make SHIELD as monumental as the movies. DAREDEVIL and JESSICA JONES work so well because they are handling the small stuff. Captain America doesn’t need to know who Kilgrave is. LUKE CAGE doesn’t need to know what an ‘Ultron’ is. Bring SHIELD back to who they were in the early Marvel movies. They were everywhere, doing everything and no one knew they existed. They show up, save the day and then ride off in a black van. That gave them the freedom to do whatever they wanted in the MCU. They could show up in AVENGERS and then stop by JESSICA JONES. Bring the intrigue back. Give me international espionage. Give me Coulson cracking jokes. Anything but more Inhuman nonsense. I just wish SHIELD went all in and fully embraced what it could be.