Comic Books

Top Comic Book Adaptations: No. 24 – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season Two

agentsofshield(Note: MASSIVE SPOILERS ahead! Do not read this if you don’t want major plot points revealed)

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season Two is a prime and complex cog in the machine that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is the glue that holds it all together and for anyone who is a fan of Marvel’s deeper cuts, it is nirvana.

The season begins with Agent Peggy Carter and the “Howling Commandos” infiltrating Hydra and ends with a confrontation between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the hidden Inhuman city called Afterlife before one of our heroes is sucked through a portal to a Kree planet. Like I said, spoilers.

If that sentence alone doesn’t get you excited for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this may not be the show for you. Every character or story-line reflects a greater universe shared by the Avengers movies, Agent Carter, and the Marvel Netflix shows. If names like Carl Creel and Bobbi Morse mean something to you, this show packs a punch in every single scene.

Some of the most powerful Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. moments come when seeing our team deal with the betrayal of an old friend and former love interest to two strong female characters. Which reminds me, this show almost boasts more complex, powerful, and interesting female characters than the rest of these adaptations combined. The aforementioned Morse is the best hand-to-hand fighter for the good-guys, unless it’s Agent Melinda May who is played brilliantly by Ming-Na Wen who you may remember as the voice of Mulan. Morse and May are the muscle for the team and are regularly tasked with saving male characters who are acting overly emotional which is a nice twist to the common trope.

Agent Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstrigde) steals the show almost every episode the deeper we get into the series without ever throwing a punch, though. Time and effort went in to developing every character and her wonderful performance is likely the reason she has largely carried Season Three of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. thus far.

But what this show is – beyond the center of this massive universe – is an origin story for the Inhumans who are this world’s version of the X-Men. It is a long setup for introducing a race of people that necessitate the colliding of all these narratives we have been following for years. This is the seed that will grow into the Avengers teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy.

It may be a slow burn for some, but seeing Agent Skye go from orphan, to hacker, to Agent, to superhero gives her Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. origin so many added layers to explore over the course of 22 (or 44) episodes that you can’t explore in an hour and a half movie. The finale had me in tears precisely because of the patience the creators had in revealing Skye’s family. And this is how the whole show works.

Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson – who is currently acting as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. – combines with Chloe Bennet’s Daisy Johnson (Skye) to create the heart and soul of the show but everything around them swirls with extra meaning and purpose. The Inhumans movie is set for 2020 and Bennet is well on her way to being a star by then.

I will stick up for the first season and say it put down the groundwork for massive emotional payoffs that are still coming at us in the third season, but if you started Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hoping to see a kind of “monster of the week,” you came out disappointed. If, however, you enjoy just living in a world where all of this craziness exists and where anything and everything that happens could have long-reaching consequences for further shows and movies, then this place is perfect. This is especially true because it is populated with so many interesting comic book characters that have never been brought to the screen before.

Much like Avengers: Age of Ultron, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season Two walks a tight-rope in terms of balancing story and characters with the rest of the universe it shares. It also carries the unique problem of trying to tell weekly stories without upsetting that balance. It took most of the first season for the show to get its legs, but it firmly hit a stride in Season Two from which there appears to be no slowing down.

There is plenty of quality character drama here to make Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. entertaining for non-hardcore fans (my mother can attest to that) but for those of us who grew up dreaming about the most fantastical aspects of the Marvel universe – using words like “Kree” and “Shi’Ar” and “Tachyon particles” as second nature – watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is like having Christmas morning every Monday.

Complete 35-part list for best comic book adaptations ever!

Part 1 – Daredevil / Part 2 – The Dark Knight / Part 3 – V for Vendetta
Part 4 – The Flash / Part 5 – Sin City / Part 6 – The Crow
Part 7 – Agent Carter / Part 8 – X-Men: Days of Future Past / Part 9 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Part 10 – Guardians of the Galaxy / Part 11 – X2: X-Men United / Part 12 – Iron Man
Part 13 – The Avengers / Part 14 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) / Part 15 – Superman (Richard Donner)
Part 16 – Hellboy / Part 17 – The Incredible Hulk / Part 18 – X-Men: First Class
Part 19 – Spider-Man 2 (Sam Raimi) / Part 20 – Thor / Part 21 – Ant-Man
Part 22 – The Dark Knight Rises / Part 23 – Spawn / Part 24 – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season Two
Part 25 – Avengers: Age of Ultron / Part 26 – Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan) / Part 27 – Captain America: The First Avengers
Part 28 – Batman (Tim Burton) / Part 29 – X-Men (Bryan Singer) / Part 30 – Spider-Man (Sam Raimi)
Part 31 – Smallville: Season One / Part 32 – Hellboy II: The Golden Army / Part 33 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, 3
Part 34 – 300 / Part 35 – Man of Steel / Extra Part – Final Thoughts

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