It probably says a lot that I'm more excited about Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. over Age of Ultron huh?
I'm going to make a pretty bold statement here. One that many will disagree with me on, but sorry guys, S.H.I.E.L.D. is the best comic book related show on cable TV right now. I still enjoy Flash, and Arrow still has its moments, but if this season didn't blow you away, I don't know what will.
There are many people who were turned off of S.H.I.E.L.D. after the first few episodes, and that's understandable, hell I was bored through to episode 3. It took a little bit to find its feet, and even up until the events of The Winter Soldier it still was just "good, but nothing special." However, at this point, anybody who stopped watching has really missed out.
The writers started out with pretty stereotypical characters: the nerdy scientist duo, the boy scout soldier, the tough chick, the geeky hacker girl, and everyone excluding Coulson (Clark Gregg) didn't have much personality. Throughout these first couple seasons, however, every character has depth, every character has a reason for doing the things they do, and I truly care for all of the main cast.
I could talk about how I ended up falling in love with the characters I disliked at the start of the show (looking at you Skye, you are awful those first few episodes), but I'd be here all day.
I'll try to keep this short and start out with probably my favorite character, Leopold Fitz.
When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. started, I didn't care for the Fitz-Simmons duo. Both these characters were introduced as the comic relief, the nerdy pair who made out-of-place Minecraft references, and did "science stuff!" And while Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) did have her own development this season, the real stand-out was Iain De Caestecker as Leopold Fitz.
What this character has gone through has lead to some fantastic acting by De Caestecker. His little twitches and ramblings this season are just so wonderful to watch. The experiences that Fitz goes through is just really relate-able, and I can't help but root for the guy. Obviously I'm going to love Phil Coulson and Melinda May (Ming Na-Wen who is incredible by the way), but I want to care about all our protagonists, and this is what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does so well. It gives us character that have, well, character!
And it's not just the good guys that I find myself rooting for, S.H.I.E.L.D. manages to get me sympathizing with its villains (something most of the MCU movies fail to do).
The prime example is the amazing Kyle MacLachlan as Calvin Hyde.
Holy crap, can this guy deliver. I apologize for not ever watching Twin Peaks (A mistake that I have been correcting in the past few weeks), but MacLachlan is easily one of the main reasons to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This guy is crazy, creepy, hilarious, and I completely love him. Whenever Cal is on the screen, he easily steals the spotlight. He can do awful, awful things, and the things that lead him to these events make it understandable. Oh my god, and the way they leave him at the end of this season? Way to make me almost cry over an awful murderer Marvel, bravo!
It's a magical place!
The rest of the cast is pretty great as well. Newcomers Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird, Nick Blood as Lance Hunter, and Henry Simmons as Alphonso "Mack" Mackenzie and are very welcome additions to the expanding cast of characters. And again, I manage to care about all of them.
A lot of people think S.H.I.E.L.D. is very limited in how it can affect the MCU. And to a point, yes, people are correct. There isn't going to be an episode where something happens and the Avengers have to save the day, no it's probably not a possibility.
But at the same time the show can at least give us glimpses into the events of future Marvel movies. This season introduced the idea of Inhumans, and without giving away too much, there are clear Civil War-esque moments in this season that seem to be previewing how Captain America and Iron Man will eventually handle their disagreement, and the argument will possibly be around a similar subject.
And in no way is S.H.I.E.L.D. hanging on to the movies as a crutch, the show has a contained storyline that can very easily stand on its own. It just manages to set up universe along the way.
This is really what I love about this show. It's in the Marvel universe, it is impacted by the events of the movie, has small bits of influence to the movies, all while being able to deliver a story and cast of characters on its own. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may not be a perfect show, and it may have started off "just O.K.," but we have only seen the beginning. I hope season 3 can be as good as this last one, and I hope more will tune into the adventures of Agent Phil Coulson and co.