ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a spinoff of a movie series that has included Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Avengers, and other titles. Starting shortly after the latter movie, fan-favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who seemingly perished on the big screen, is revived and given a new team. The circumstances surrounding his continued existence are important, but slow to be revealed, and instead, we get to see how he handles a group of mostly young people who will be the leaders of the organization tomorrow. The first year is now out on Blu-ray and DVD.
Coulson’s team includes: Skye (Chloe Bennet, Nashville), a computer hacker-anarchist whose unknown parents are part of the show’s mythology; Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen, Mulan, ER), a legendary agent pulled out of retirement for her own good; Grant Ward (Brett Dalton, Killing Lincoln), clean-cut good boy who seems heir apparent to May; and Fitz (Ian De Caestecker, The Fades) Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge, Delicacy) (the lack of ‘and’ is intentional), the tech duo who come up with the gadgets for the team. Together, they fly around on a giant airplane, following up on alien-, god-, and hero-related incidents all over the globe.
There is a sizable recurring cast in the 22 episodes included on this five-disc set. Some are familiar faces from the movies, providing further connectors, and some are brand new ones that fill out the small screen world. At its best, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is worthy of hanging with the studio’s other efforts, and under the watch of producer Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly), it will only grow from here into a beloved favorite all on its own, even if it does not exist alone.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a decent amount of bonus features. There are only three audio commentaries, and not necessarily for the episodes you want them on, but there are a wealth of featurettes. “Journey Into S.D.C.C.” is a fun little documentary following the cast to San Diego Comic Con, giving you a look at their actual personalities. The Field Reports and VFX Progressions are short, but there are quite a few of them, breaking down some of the most memorable, action-packed scenes of the series. The blooper track is amusing, and roughly six minutes of deleted scenes are insightful, surely cut only for time, though nothing too tantalizing is revealed. The fourth disc also includes the episode-length TV special Assembling a Universe, which is about Marvel’s current properties in general, rather than just this show.
This makes sense because Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is definitely part of the larger Marvel franchise. There is a small tie-in during the fall run to Thor: The Dark World, which was in theaters at the time, and a much, much bigger connection to Captain America: Winter Soldier in the spring, which is when the series finally finds its feet, hampered up until then by what they are and are not allowed to reveal.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s first season ends up being as awesome as one might hope for from the storied studio, despite a slow start. It has an intriguing pilot, then spends a couple of months spinning its wheels on seemingly stand-alone adventures. Around mid-season it begins to weave things together a little more cohesively, giving greater meaning to some of the small bits already shown, and then once Winter Soldier premieres, it can finally reveal the Hydra menace and become as intense as the films it shares DNA with. Now that the series is fully unleashed, allowed to be what it should have been all along, I really look forward to seeing where year two goes.
In all, I’m pretty satisfied with this release. I like most of the episodes, especially the later ones, am fully invested in the characters, and am entertained by the bonus features. What more could one ask for?
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – The Complete First Season is available now.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00KMXQJ0A][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00KHD5FK0][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00IGAXCFQ]