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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Best Kept Secret of the Marvel Cinematic Universe


"It's funny what can happen when someone believes in you."

Today, Marvel and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans celebrate the 8th anniversary of the Pilot episode of the Marvel series.


The first-ever live-action Marvel TV series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ended its 7-season run last August 2020, which makes it the longest-running Marvel series ever to exist. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the best-kept secret of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The aforementioned series did what the Marvel films cannot. The series delivered perfect casting for each character, a unique format of storytelling, and well-developed character-driven stories over the course of 136 episodes.



The series was created by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did a great job with the casting. It was able to deliver a very diverse group of people with natural chemistry. The series starred Clark Gregg who happened to reprise his role as Phil Coulson from the films, Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May, Chloe Bennet as Skye/Daisy Johnson/Quake, Iain De Caestecker as Leopold Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons, and Brett Dalton as Grant Ward. In addition, Nick Blood, Adrianne Palicki, Henry Simmons, Luke Mitchell, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Gabriel Luna, Jeff Ward, Joel Stoffer, Enver Gjokaj, and Dianne Doan joined the cast at a much later time.



The creators and producers really made sure that each individual from different backgrounds in life was properly represented in the series. Every actor gave justice to their respective roles, whether as a protagonist or antagonist. Moreover, actors from the Marvel films reprised their roles as well in the series as guest stars such as Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill and Jamie Alexander as Lady Sif from the first two Thor films. The incredible Stan Lee also made a cameo in the first season of the series.


BEWARE: Spoilers ahead!!

PREMISE


The first season focuses on laying the groundwork for the series by introducing the audience to the heroes that aren’t super, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary. After the events of The Avengers, Phil Coulson is brought back to life through Project Tahiti. He puts together a team to take on mysterious and classified cases such as Project Centipede and The Clairvoyant. As the agents try to make a difference in the world like the Avengers, they encounter Hydra, a Nazi organization that is prominent in the MCU. The first season also deals with a betrayal from one of its prominent team members, which takes a toll on all agents.



In the second season, the agents deal with the ramifications of the season one finale. Coulson takes over the title of being the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. While rebuilding the organization in secret, they continue to deal with what’s left of Hydra by sending in two of their best agents inside the wolf house, namely Jemma Simmons and newcomer Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird. In this season as well, the viewers are introduced to Inhumans. Unlike mutants, Inhumans must undergo terrigenesis in order to gain their so-called gifts. Skye discovers that she is an Inhuman, and she gets answers about her true identity.



Skye begins to use her real name, Daisy Johnson. She can control her powers now. Coulson tasks her to assemble her own team of Inhumans known as the Secret Warriors. They also deal with the Sokovia Accords. In the latter part of the season, the agents fight Hive, the ancient Inhuman leader of Hydra.



The fourth season is divided into three arcs or “pods,” namely the Ghost Rider arc, LMD arc, and Framework arc. The season begins with Daisy going rogue and being labeled by the press as “Quake.” Coulson stepped down as the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and became a field agent due to the organization going public. Daisy meets Robbie Reyes, who is later revealed to be Ghost Rider. On the other hand, Leo Fitz and Holden Radcliffe started developing a Life Model Decoy (LMD) through the form of Aida (Mallory Jansen). Little did the agents know that their LMD counterparts are slowly replacing them. For the last pod, most of the agents are trapped in an alternate virtual reality called “Framework.” With Daisy and Jemma being the last highest-ranking agents standing, they decide to follow their teammates to the Framework to rescue them. Everything is not as it seems.



In the series’ fifth season, things just got more interesting. Fresh from the Framework, the team was abducted to a space station known as the Lighthouse in 2091. The agents learn that they must save what’s left of humanity in the future to go back to the main timeline. Daisy also understands that in the future, she will destroy Earth. This explains her being labeled as the “Destroyer of Worlds.” In addition, the team also meets Deke (Jeff Ward), who later on joins the team as he is also transported to the main timeline. After saving the future, they learn that they are now fugitives. The agents try their best to change the way things would unfold in the main timeline. Ruby Hale (Dove Cameron), General Hale (Catherine Dent), and Glenn Talbot/Graviton give the S.H.I.E.L.D. team a difficult time in fulfilling their mission. The deaths of two important agents even make it hard for the team to put an end to the threats.



Set a year after the events of the fifth season, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are divided into two teams. One team is sent to space to track Fitz’s whereabouts. In contrast, the other team stayed at the headquarters to capture Sarge, an alien creature who looks exactly like Coulson and Izel (​​Karolina Wydra), an ancient entity. When all hope seems lost in the final battle, Jemma rescues her colleagues, and they come aboard a newly-renovated Zephyr One.



The final season begins with the team traveling back to the past. Fitz is missing again. Jemma shows Mack and Daisy a Life Model Decoy of Coulson. In addition, Jemma informs the team that they need to jump through time to stop the Chronicoms from unleashing an invasion and eliminating S.H.I.E.L.D. from existence in order to establish Earth as their new habitat. Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) later on joins the agents in their time-traveling shenanigans. In the end, everyone makes it back to the main timeline.


MCU TIE-INS/REFERENCES


Throughout the seasons, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had a lot of MCU tie-ins and references. One of the most pivotal tie-ins was during the first season, which directly connects to the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The series also featured a direct tie-in to Avengers: Age of Ultron, which explains how the Avengers retrieve Loki’s scepter in Sokovia and how S.H.I.E.L.D rescued the Sokovians. A few flashbacks featuring Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter was also shown. In addition, having Daniel Sousa appear in the final season opened doors for more stories to tell on the belove Agent Carter character.


The Darkhold, which recently appeared in WandaVision, first appeared in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and was later seen in Runaways. Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter was also meant to appear in the series. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts, she was unable to commit. Thanos was also referenced in the fifth season of the series, which took place at the same time as Avengers: Infinity War. Another pivotal tie-in in the final season was the quantum realm which links the series to Avengers: Endgame. In the series, it was Fitz and Jemma who discovered how the quantum realm and time travel work. The quantum realm is the reason why the agents weren’t affected by Thanos’ snap.


Lastly, Roxxon, a prominent company in the MCU, is referenced throughout the series. The list of MCU tie-ins and references just goes on. The tie-ins and references featured in the whole series definitely prove how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is canon to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how some Marvel stans are sleeping on such a spectacular and totally bonkers TV series.



THOUGHTS

As the first-ever Marvel TV series to ever exist, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was meant to be a spinoff of the Marvel films. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and canon to the films. The series lasted for 7 seasons with a total of 136 episodes. The episodes had an average running time of 44 minutes which aired every week on ABC. Having a live-action television series was a first for Marvel. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. explored the untapped corners of the MCU. The series was able to tell the stories of the people and the organization behind the scenes and the aftermath of every battle that the Avengers encounter. Being released on a weekly basis was such a fun way for fans and avid viewers to talk about the events of a recent episode, speculate, theorize, rewatch and anticipate. People can also follow along and catch up.



Unlike the Marvel films, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. managed to deliver well-developed character-driven stories until the series finale. The format of Agents of SHIELD being a series played a massive and pivotal role in how the stories unfold and each character developed. For instance, the audience witnessed the ramifications of bringing Coulson back to life after his untimely death before the Battle of New York in The Avengers. The audience has also seen the exceptional development of Chloe Bennet’s character from Skye who used to be an orphan from St. Agnes and a hacker who turned into an agent under the supervision of Phil Coulson who turned into an Inhuman and superhero known as Quake. Due to her metamorphosis, she also tried to unravel her origins and saw her long-lost parents. She eventually went by the name Daisy Johnson.



The keen audience also witnessed the introduction of Ghost Rider in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the form of Gabriel Luna as Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider. Introducing Ghost Rider in the MCU through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was such a high-wire act for Marvel, but they were able to pull it off. The darker side of the Marvel universe started to come out with the introduction of Ghost Rider. Time Travel and the Quantum Realm were thoroughly explained in the series compared to Avengers: Endgame. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. also gave closure to the story arc of Daniel Sousa, played by Enver Gjokaj, from Agent Carter, which was canceled during its sophomore season. Daniel Sousa was such a great addition to the final season. The Sokovia Accords, which was heavily discussed and part of Captain America: Civil War also affected the storylines of the Inhuman agents, namely Elena Rodriguez and Daisy Johnson, in the fourth season.



I also love the DaisySousa/Dousy ship of Daisy Johnson and Daniel Sousa. Both Chloe Bennet and Enver Gjokaj have such natural chemistry. The build-up of their relationship was very pure and not rushed. Other ships such as FitzSimmons and MackElena also got the happy ending that they deserve. I also do admire the visual effects from seasons 4-7. Those seasons really felt cinematic on television. Personally, seasons 1, 4, 5, and 7 are my favorites.


MCU FUTURE


The series finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is one of the fewest series finales that actually works. The finale proves that you don’t need to kill off one of the main characters to raise the stakes and have a dramatic ending. Even if the series finale wrapped up the arcs of the characters beautifully, it still left doors open for returns in future MCU projects. Coulson, Mack, and Elena on Earth can focus on more grounded missions and work with heroes such as the new Captain America, or who knows, maybe Coulson may get a call from his pal, Nick Fury. With May being a professor at Coulson Academy, she may get a call from Coulson to step into her uniform again to take on more field missions. With the multiverse being explored in the MCU, Marvel characters may end up interacting with Deke or other characters needing the brains of FitzSimmons in analyzing anomalies and other scientific stuff. With Daisy, Sousa, and Kora in space as the “Astro Ambassadors,” they may be working for S.W.O.R.D. now and may eventually meet up with Nick Fury in the space station from Spider-Man: Far From Home.


Up until now, the cast and characters of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are the topics of rumors and leaks. Elizabeth Henstridge is rumored to come back as Jemma Simmons in the MCU via Secret Invasion, Hawkeye and/or Spider-Man: No Way Home. Clark Gregg and Chloe Bennet are also rumored to come back in Secret Invasion as Coulson and Daisy, respectively. With Clark Gregg reprising his role in What If, it’s really possible that he’s coming back down the line. Daisy is also an important character in the comic book Secret Invasion. Elizabeth Henstridge has been dropping hints nonstop on her Instagram and TikTok by replying emojis to various comments to add fuel to the rumors. In addition, Chloe Bennet left CW’s Powerpuff pilot due to “scheduling conflicts.”



Perhaps, the fans can also finally get the Most Wanted and Ghost Rider series that were both canceled. With just the resources, Marvel Studios would be able to deliver the materials perfectly on Disney Plus. Given the Marvel Studios budget as well, the visual effects, lighting, and other aspects can be improved.


FINAL STATEMENT

The series introduced the world to a marvelously talented cast. The audience of Marvel delved into the untapped corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe through a different format which aided in complex and well-progressed character storylines. Regardless of its dependency on the overarching plot of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was able to stand up on its own feet, leaving fans grinning, crying, and satisfied. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have concluded on a high note during its run on air, but its legacy will live on forever. The series paved the way for more Marvel TV and Disney Plus series, and here’s to hoping that we will all see the beloved characters again in future Marvel Cinematic Universe projects.


Happy 8th Anniversary, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! I love you to Planet Kitson and back!



If you’re looking for a sign, this is your sign to start watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!


"Here's to us - who's like us - damn few."
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