EDITORIAL: Why Shows Like AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Deserve A Chance
Rokyn's thoughts on why AoS is a great show and why it deserves a chance. If anything it HAS flaws but not as bad as many of you are making it to be. And this is coming from a DC/Arrow fanboy. I also explore some common trends in the super hero fanbase that I would like to address.
Rokyn here, the DC fanboy, is back to give you the facts and objectivity. After my defense of Man of Steel, my article on Warner Brothers, and after McNyagano's article on Iron Man 3; I have decided to write a bit on Agents of Shield. If anything, McNyagano's amazing article inspired me to write this. Thanks man.
I would like to let you know that I'm not a big Marvel guy so please know that I know close to nothing on Marvel comics. I will jump around in this article and it's a bit more broad than what the article's title states. Now, let's clear some things out the way first.
Objectivity vs Subjectivity
In several articles I have stressed this very heavily and I am essentially beating a dead horse by now. Most fans/general audiences forget to judge material by these two methods. For example, let's say I hate the Avengers and I disliked the film. Does it mean it's a shit movie? Does it mean it's bad? No, that is simply an opinion and a personal taste issue. Most people do not understand this at all and they usually develop a crowd mentality where they beat up on others who do like the film. Now that is very immature. If I was a critic, would I judge Avengers with a F because of my own feelings or should I judge it objectively? By objectivity, I judge it by the quality of the script, visuals, acting, and if the characters are written well and if the story works. I might hate RDJ but I can acknowledge his amazing talent to play Tony Stark. That's something many critics don't do and they judge entirely by their feelings. I can, in an unbiased and objectively way, critique different superhero films knowing that there are different versions of the character. I'm not saying be a total emotionless objective robot but at least have some emotion sure but also have facts and objectivity when judging and stating your claim. That's enough of that let's move on.
Changing the Source Material
Again beating a dead horse, I believe that changing the source material is a good thing to do unlike most fans think. Sure, when you change stuff just for the sake of change it can be frustrating. If anything, changing the source material can lead to new and creative stories. For example would you rather have seen an Age of Ultron movie with the same predictable take you guys are suggesting with Hank Pym creating him and what not or would you rather see some thing new and unpredictable? It's a no brainer. I may not agree with different versions of stories/characters but I can tell when they are well done in their own way. Having different versions is a good thing; it opens up new storytelling and opens up new possibilities for the characters. That’s where creativity shines. It may not follow the source material and it may not be the your version of the characters but you can still appreciate the differences and judge objectively. Hence, that’s WHY I can say I love and can see the greatness of the Adam West Batman, Michael Keaton Batman, and Christian Bale Batman even though they are nothing like my favorite version; the Kevin Conroy Batman. There will be different versions in the future and maybe one of them could be your version. The same applies to the stories.
Dark vs Family Friendly
There's a reason why Joss Whedon made it family friendly it's exactly that! I can finally watch a superhero show that my entire family can enjoy and my kids as well. That's no disrespect to Arrow but as much as I love Arrow, I can appreciate having something I can show to my little 5 year old in AoS. That's just the way I see it. There's nothing wrong with that and it's not "OH THE DISNEY PRINCESSES ARE TAKING OVER" "OR OH TOO MANY JOKES". If anything those issues you are having are taste issues not objective issues. If you say "Oh I don't mind the jokes but some of them don't work", now that would be a more objective way of saying that. But then again comedy is different for everyone so is it actually bad?
Let's look at Batman and Robin (even though it may be a bad example). The movie isn't bad because it was family friendly but because it treats its audience like they are stupid, the movie isn't smart, and the direction of the movie/script/everything was off. You can have jokes, levity, and family friendly stuff as long as it HAS SUBSTANCE. If it has meat, wit, and intelligent themes encoded in with the levity that is what makes it great. The Batman and Robin movie had no substance and no intelligence. Everything doesn't have to be dark and serious in order to be good and I love dark serious but come on, I want to have a good time too. One of the reasons why Star Wars and The Avengers are great is because they combine those two aspects so seamlessly and the characters transition the story and have development. It's not about being dark or friendly but about having substance in a story and having great characters. Let's move on.
Expectation vs Realistic
One aspect that has hurt the show for a while has been the hype. People hyped this show so much to the point that they were calling it the best show on TV even before it began! That in turn bit them back when they didn't get what they expected and so they hated it because it wasn't what "they" wanted. You fans have to learn to not over expect things and hype things so much but rather have realistic expectations. You know, like wait and see. Don't expect Heroes for Hire, Inhumans, and Iron Fist in AoS because your expectations are going to get shattered. Here's a quote from Whedon:
In a September 2012 interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, Whedon reiterated that sentiment, going on to say "It's new characters. It needs to be its own thing. It needs to be adjacent [to The Avengers]... What does S.H.I.E.L.D. have that the other superheroes don't? And that, to me, is that they're not superheroes, but they live in that universe. Even though they're a big organization, that [lack of powers] makes them underdogs, and that's interesting to me."
I actually mentioned in my Man of Steel article in where some people hated it because they had already had a version of it in their minds and they were expecting perfection. And when the film came out, it wasn't what they wanted and boom they hate it without ever judging it objectively. I'm sorry but that's incredibly juvenile and naive. Prime examples so far: Iron Man 3, Age of Ultron, Batman vs Superman, Batman's new batsuit, role casting, Guardians of the Galaxy, and such. Watch people will be mad if the new batsuit isn't the Arkham suit or if it's not what they want. Hell people had fits because Josh Brolin didn't get the role! Who's to say that would have happen? How about you wait and see and keep realistic expectations.
Giving shows a chance
You can look at statistics that show several ratings for different shows and many people tend to judge them for ratings. Prime example is Breaking Bad. It had a mediocre rating for a while until more people began watching it but does it necessary mean it's a bad show? No, it just means it's not getting enough viewers. Many people gave up on Arrow and never gave it a chance after 5 episodes and now we have more people watching it because of its successful first season. People are now going back and watching the first season on Netflix. Regardless, who knew how good Arrow would get after that? I guarantee you if people like Martian Abomination Clone had given it a chance and watched the entire season, they wouldn't hate on it so much. But I'm assuming so I don't know. Regardless you shouldn't give up on shows so early but instead give chances and if you don't like it fine but you don't have to keep repeating your hatred on the show when others like it. Prime example is the crowd mentality people develop. It's sickening and unfair. I heard the 5 past articles, I KNOW YOU HATE IT, and now you're just simply being an ass.
What works and what doesn't
Agents of Shield has an interesting take on several issues. Again it has substance. Even though I haven't seen the second episode, the other ones all had substance and a central message that had meat to it. The first one was brilliant in where it spoke of you know Gods vs Man, power vs responsibility, the definition of a hero, and it explored the effects of the Avengers on the world. The third one dealt with the idea of having a home, how much government should control, the greater of two evils, and it had interesting character moments but ONLY for some characters. The fourth was great in where it explored the idea of privacy, the effects of technology on people, and most importantly it developed the characters Coulson and Skye even more. Coulson and Skye have probably gotten the biggest development over these four episodes and we briefly get some development on Agents Ward and May. Couslon is the ideal optimist in where he gives people second chances and his reverence for the past is very compelling to me. Couslon is the character who resists change very similar to Batman and his "resurrection" really makes him interesting. Ward and May are the ideal cynical agents who are slowly beginning to warm up. Skye is your typical fangirl computer genius who has a tragic past but she honestly has more to that. Whatever route they are going with her, they are certainly doing a good job of making her relatable and enjoyable. Most of these characters are relatable, fun, and most importantly they have internal issues but that might just be my own opinion. Remember a show can be fun and friendly but it can also have substance. And who knows, maybe Whedon and crew will go darker at the end like many people want.
What doesn't work are Fitz and Simmons, the dependence on the Avengers, and some of the action pieces are a bit wonky and several script issues but nothing too major. Fitz and Simmons have gotten absolutely no development so far and they are just basically "wonder twins". I actually really like them to be honest but I completely understand that they are shallow characters and sometimes annoying. So far they have depended on the Avengers too much but I can understand why they do in the narrative, it's just that they should start developing their own identity. Some action pieces are not well done but it doesn't hurt the story. Actually it improves much more in the fourth episode. I also believe that they would benefit from having a superhero on the team and I thought Mike from episode one would have been perfect even with the Extremis. I hope they plan to bring him back and his powerset would have been handy with the superstrength/superhuman leaping and super durability. But I digress.
And of course it's not a perfect show in where some of the dialog is a bit wonky but it's not a big issue compared to the other good stuff. Some people are really overlooking the positives but rather they're just looking at the negatives which is completely unfair.
I know that a large portion of my article doesn't address AoS directly but it completely shows my defense of it. I honestly believe it's really good show; far from perfect but it has potential. I hate that many people are trashing the show for the above reasons and it's honestly very unreasonable. If you feel it's too light for you then sure that's fine but if anything that's not a flaw but rather a taste issue you have. If anything I'll say that the show does get a bit "silly" at times but not to the extent that people put it. Also try to keep your expectations for GotG, Man of Steel 2, and Star Wars at a reasonable level or else you'll get disappointed if you are hoping for perfection. Anyhow, feel free to post your thoughts below and feel free to post your arguments. Keep in mind I know nothing of the Marvel universe and that I will and always be a DC fanboy. Though, I absolutely appreciate and enjoy what Marvel is doing on the silver and TV screen. Q'PLAH AND JOLAN TRU!
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