Aug 28, 2012

Tradecraft: Joss Whedon to Write and Direct S.H.I.E.L.D. TV Pilot!

There's some news that you dream about your whole life and never expect to see come true. I've long dreamt of a TV series based on Marvel's spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. Six years ago, when I first started this blog (and wrote of my love for S.H.I.E.L.D. and its director Nick Fury in one of my earliest posts), the very idea of such a show would have been inconceivable. Just as inconceivable would have been the notion that cult favorite Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (one of my favorite TV series ever) would write or direct it. Today, after Marvel scored hits with the Iron Man and Captain America movies, after Whedon turned their team-up concept, Marvel's The Avengers, into the biggest movie of the year, and after the company brilliantly integrated S.H.I.E.L.D. as the connective tissue linking all those films together... it's far easier to imagine. And it's happening! Deadline reports that ABC has ordered a pilot for a live-action S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show which Whedon will co-write and (schedule permitting) direct.

Okay, clearly this won't be the specific S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series I've long dreamed of. That S.H.I.E.L.D. would be set in the Sixties and look like Jim Sterenko's vision of U.N.C.L.E. on psychedelics. But I'm not going to turn down anything that Joss Whedon has to offer, especially after he delivered such a wonderful vision in Marvel's The Avengers. (And he wrote a great Nick Fury in his first arc on Astonishing X-Men, Gifted.) He realized the fantastical S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and even made it believable in a fairly realistic superhero world, so I'm betting he can do just about anything. Still, it's hard for me to imagine a S.H.I.E.L.D. show (or an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. show, as I hope they end up calling it) without Nick Fury and his original crew of Dum Dum Dugan, Jasper Sitwell, Gabe Jones and the Contessa Valentina Allegra di Fontaine. But if this show is set firmly in the world established by the insanely popular Marvel films (which would make sense), then Dum Dum and Jasper are stuck in the WWII era of Captain America, and Nick Fury is played by movie star Samuel L. Jackson, who seems unlikely to star on a TV show (though you never know!). So who are we left with? Cobie Smulders played S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill in Marvel's The Avengers. She's a TV star... but she's got a show already (How I Met Your Mother). So will Whedon create an original line-up of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, or will new actors step into roles established in the film universe? No info's available at this time. I suppose it's possible that Jackson could make guest appearances from time to time as Fury (and maybe even Robert Downy Jr. or Chris Evans or Scarlett Johansson could show up from time to time playing Iron Man, Captain America and the Black Widow respectively), and the show could meanwhile focus on his underlings. It's fun to speculate. Whatever the case, though, the idea of an ongoing TV show focusing on the espionage agency that patrols the Marvel Universe is very, very exciting!

S.H.I.E.L.D., by the way, stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division in the movies. Though that "Homeland" part doesn't make too much sense since it's apparently answerable to the United Nations! Whose Homeland is it referring to? (Originally, in the comics, it stood for Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate, which didn't make much sense either.)

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