Fans of good TV assemble because we've finally seen the pilot for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it's freakin' awesome!
After months of anticipation, TV critics were able to screen the highly-anticipated series from The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly mastermind Joss Whedon, which centers on the peacekeeping organization from the Marvel superhero movies. We wish we could tell you our every thought about the new ABC series, but we really, really like our jobs, so that will have to wait. But trust us, it's worth the wait.
Whedon, executive producers Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen and the cast were on hand at the 2013 Summer Press Tour to tease the super-secret pilot and reveal if there will be any tie-ins with the super-popular films...
Avengers Tie-Ins?: With the impending releases of Thor 2 and Captain America 2, talk of synergy with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was quickly addressed.
"There will be as much as we can allow," Joss explains. "We're still working that out. It's a fluid process. The important thing is it's a fun opportunity, but it's not...It's not an easter egg hunt. We don't want to be an Easter egg farm. We want people to come back for these people. This show needs to work for people who haven't seen the movies."
Great Expectations: As for what ABC was looking for from a Marvel series, Joss says they wanted pure Joss Whedon goodness. Well, not in those exact words. "Their biggest note after we presented the thing was they wanted to make sure our investment in the characters and their interaction and their evolution was as big as the case of the week," he explains. "They wanted to make sure people were coming for the recurring story...to me, that's how I do all of my shows. They basically said, 'Can you please do what you do and not learn a new skill?'"
Under Pressure: If the cast and crew are feeling any pressure about the series' performance, they are doing a good job of covering it up. "It's just not something I feel or that I'm aware of. I think we have a cool idea. The second [episode], if anything, is bigger, more exciting," Gregg says. "I feel like they put together an amazing team…I'm compelled by an idea post-Avengers where things are out of control." Jed Whedon adds, "If we think about that all the time, we would never make any decisions. We just try to keep it fun and tell stories we'd like to see."
Coulson Lives...How?!: The mystery of just exactly how Coulson is alive will play out over the course of the first season, with Whedon only saying, "We will be dealing with the issue, obviously...It will be drawn out over several episodes." Clark Gregg reveals that Whedon called him to tease what lies ahead with Coulson and the reveal of how he's alive, saying, "I hung up the phone very deeply on board."
Executive producer Jeph Loeb reveals, "There was never going to be a show called Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. without Clark."
Repeat Appearance: While we can't say who J. August Richards plays in the pilot, we can tell you he's pretty integral to the plot. Yet he's not billed a series regular and his future on the series is a mystery. "I can neither confirm or deny that [J. August Richards] will be coming back," Whedon hedges when asked about a potential return of the Angel actor. "But I loved him, too, so do that math."
Team Human: Whedon says part of the appeal of the series was to shine a light on the human beings who aren't given a chance in the spotlight in most films. "The thing that appealed to me about the show from the very beginning is the idea of the people who don't have superpowers," he says. "The idea of the people who didn't get the hammer, who didn't get the super serum. The TV show is very much about that sense: 'well, what about the rest of us? How do we cope with this?'"