If you were one of the lucky Comic-Con fans to get into Ballroom 20 Friday for the Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel, you were privy to something the rest of us peons were not: the entire pilot of what is probably the most anticipated new show of the fall TV season. And even though you one-upped me this time (the lines here are loooooong), that's okay, because I had the opportunity to sit down with the cast and also some guy named Joss Whedon. I don't know who he is, but he sure seems popular. And also kind of full of himself.
Anyway, if you've been living under a rock for the past several months, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a spin-off of last year's mega-super-awesome blockbuster movie The Avengers. It centers on Clark Gregg's Agent Phil Coulson, whom you'll remember perished at the hands of that evil son-of-a-bitch Loki for no other reason than Joss Whedon is an evil, evil man who likes to make people cry in public. Now, I know what you're thinking: If he died and is now alive, does that mean Joss is finally expanding into zombie territory? Sadly, no (though I would totally watch Joss Whedon's Zombie Apocalypse): Coulson is alive and his resurrection is one of the show's main plot points, something that will play out over the course of the first season. Not much else is being said on the topic. Apparently you need to have Edward Snowden-level clearance for that script.
Joining Coulson are Cobie Smulders' Agent Maria Hill (she's officially reprising her role from the film for at least the first episode) and several members of an all-human specialized S.H.I.E.L.D. squad played by veteran actress Ming-Na Wen and newcomers Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennett, Ian De Caestecker, and Elizabeth Henstridge. Together they investigate odd happenings from around the globe while continuing to build and develop the complex world from the movies. But don't worry if you've never seen the films; executive producers Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon (God, these Whedon people are everywhere) are quick to point out that they've gone out of their way to make sure the show will appeal to both old fans and new.
"People who are Marvel fans will like the show because everything you've already seen in the Marvel cinematic universe... we're existing in that," says Tancharoen. That means the writers must take into consideration every single thing Ironman has ever said and done and will ever say and do (it's good thing they know the guy writing the next Avengers film, I guess?). To counter that, Whedon says, "We're trying to take the universe they've established in the movies and tell stories through a different lens of that same world." He goes on to note that not one of the new characters has special skills a la Thor or the Hulk. "It's about real people living in that extreme world and what that would be like."
For those of you worried ABC might yank the show off the air before it has a chance to get off the ground should it not debut to huge ratings, creator and executive producer Joss Whedon says, "There's no free ride, we've jumped through all the hoops to make this work. The network has dealt with us as they would with any show. The only difference is they really did know what we were giving them and what they wanted." He goes on to add, "We've had a real feeling of support."