Joss Whedon on S.H.I.E.L.D. Pilot's Title Change, Avengers Synergy and Coulson's 'Resurrection'

SHIELD Pilot Spoilers Joss WhedonWith less than three weeks to go until ABC unveils its 2013-14 TV line-up at its May 14 Upfront presentation, questions still surround Joss Whedon‘s pilot about the agents of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. — which internally at the network is currently dubbed Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Question No. 1: Why the ongoing name change? “I think it had to do with legal things,” Whedon told TVLine at Wednesday night’s Iron Man 3 premiere event in Los Angeles. Alluding to a similarly named series that put FX on the map, he quipped: “Ask Michael Chiklis, because I think it’s his fault.”

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But of greater interest to those anticipating the ABC/Marvel property — which follows a worldwide law enforcement organization that polices the new, the strange and the unknown — is how it will synch up with Whedon’s Avengers movies, the first of which busted all kinds of blocks last summer.

Will the S.H.I.E.L.D. series capitalize on a cross-platform synergy, to the delight of fans? “What we’re trying to do is open the door for that — but that’s not the door to the main room,” Whedon stresses. “The big house is that S.H.I.E.L.D. has to work on its own. It can’t be an Easter egg farm. It’s got to be a show with characters you care about week to week, that if you’ve never seen a Marvel movie you can turn into.”

And yes, Whedon has the utmost faith that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be able to reel in those aforementioned few who don’t consider themselves anything close to superhero junkies.

“I believe the Marvel movies work partially because the idea of a superhero universe is not alien to our culture on so many levels. We’re so used to it,” he posits. “And so the idea of a superhero show that isn’t about superheroes, I think its time has come.”

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One bit of Avengers/S.H.I.E.L.D. continuity that Whedon did have to tackle head-on is the seeming “resurrection” of Agent Phil Coulson, played on the big screen — and as a series regular in the ABC pilot — by Clark Gregg.

“All I can say is I think we handled it responsibly,” Whedon hedges when asked how Coulson manages to continue on. “For more than that, you’re going to have to watch.” (With reporting by Scott Huver)

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50 Comments
  1. Teag says:

    Agent Coulson for life!

    • wordsmith says:

      Definitely curious to see what Joss means by handling Coulson’s return “responsibly”. I guess it means that whatever it is, it won’t feel like a total cheat.

      • Alia says:

        I never believed he was dead in the first place, frankly.

        • Shannon says:

          Agreed. I consider the actual ‘dying’ happening off camera and therefore it may not have happened. It is totally possible that they made everyone think he was dead to kick Captain America into gear. We know that the cards were staged, why couldn’t the death have been too? I’ll be watching to find out.

          • Spencer says:

            You literally took the words out of my mouth, Shannon. I don’t believe Coulson ever died.

          • wordsmith says:

            That makes Nick Fury look like even more of a jerk than just the trick with the trading cards. I’d totally buy it, though.

          • Delirious says:

            Depending on the day, I might believe Coulson died, or him and Fury staged it to encourage the team… Either way, something I consider nowadays is that Coulson is just a robot/droid, or a cyborg, and he can be rebuilt/fixed when needed. It’s farfetched, but a possibility nonetheless, I think?

            Either way, I usually end up thinking “I guess we’ll learn the truth eventually, so stop mulling over it, dammit”.

    • Robyn says:

      . . . and beyond.

    • Alan says:

      coulson lives.

    • Tony says:

      I think they might have Agent Coulson be a LMD (Life Model Decoy) its something very comic booky and it’s a very SHIELD idea

  2. Et. Al says:

    Ugh @ the title. It sounds like a Maxim photo spread. Abc must employ a full time worker whose sole job is fiddling with the titles of their series.

  3. Dan says:

    I hope the terrible name change is only due to legal issues (which is a ridiculous thing in itself). To change the name based on the perception that people would be “confused” is to call your audience stupid in their faces.

    • TV Gord says:

      It’s not about THEIR audience. It’s about the additional viewers they want to (and will have to) attract to watch. They’ve already go us, the Marvel fans and the Joss fans, but they’ll need a whole lot more to make this a ratings success!

  4. Tanjerine says:

    “I believe the Marvel movies work partially because the idea of a superhero universe is not alien to our culture on so many levels. We’re so used to it,” he posits. “And so the idea of a superhero show that isn’t about superheroes, I think its time has come.” ~ Does Arrow not prove that?!?!?!?!

    And if by some fluke the show does not get picked up, will Coulson still live? And will we still find out HOW?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Firefly!

  6. Mr. John says:

    Life Model Decoy. Stark even referenced the technology in Avengers.

  7. Midori says:

    It will be like “House M.D.”, no one after 10 episodes called it that, everyone called it “House”, but the “M.D.” was always in the title.

  8. Why *Marvel’s*? I mean, I get why, but it sounds ridiculous. If you don’t want to call it SHIELD because of the FX show, just call it Agents of SHIELD.

    • dizmo says:

      Well, the official title of Avengers was “Marvel’s The Avengers”, so it’s not like it’s an unprecedented thing. The Marvel’s part will probably get just as much use as it did the last time, too.

    • Alan says:

      branding, all the future marvel movies have it in the title and their animated shows have it as well. the marvel brand is what sells so they need people to know what it is.

    • TV Gord says:

      I don’t get what the problem is with the word, “Marvel’s”. It sounds as though a lot of people are just nitpicking (or love to complain, and will always find something…).

      • Chris says:

        It sounds stupid. It makes the title very awkward. What’s easier to say/type out: Shield or Agents of Shield or Marvel’s Agents of Shield? Just as very few fans called the movie “Marvel’s The Avengers,” though, few viewers will call the series “Marvel’s Agents of Shield.” It’s “The Avengers” and “Agents of Shield,” for sure.

    • ElKabong says:

      I personally look forward to calling it ABC’s Joss Whedon’s Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.

    • Spencer says:

      Many non-diehard comic book fans probably don’t fully have “SHIELD” down in their memory as a part of the Marvel universe. My mom loves all the Marvel movies, but she doesn’t fully remember what SHIELD is or what it has to do with the Avengers. Putting “Marvel” in front of it will alert those who don’t fully remember that this is an Avengers-esque show.

  9. Andrew says:

    We never saw Coulson die in Avengers. We only heard Fury say over the intercom that the medics “called it”. Coulson’s last words were to use his death to give the Avengers a reason to come together. Fury lied about Coulson’s death to do that. The medics probably revived him in sickbay and now he has a Stark 3000 artificial heart.

  10. John says:

    Definitely he’ll be a LMD. Marvel uses that a lot.

  11. charissa29 says:

    what if we WANT an Easter egg farm?!!!

  12. JA says:

    Does anybody else feel like you don’t want to watch this BECAUSE its headed by Joss Whedon? As much as I loved Buffy and Angel in progress, I was really disappointed in both their endings. While I know Whedon will have some constraints because he’s working with an established universe, his penchant for perpetual angst and dislike of positive endings worries me. Somebody want to help me feel more positive about this?

    • wordsmith says:

      You’re probably not going to find a whole lot of support on a board like this. Most of us are pretty big Whedon fans. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, though.

    • JP says:

      The last 2 seasons of Buffy were sans Whedon. He pretty much gave up control of the show hence the reason why the last two seasons were less than par. Blaming him on the downfall of Buffy is just innacurate. It was the lack of his control that completely changed Buffy. Well, that and the fact it moved from the WB to UPN.

    • Mer says:

      Yeah, good luck with that! Joss is the man and most of us geeks reading this article pretty much worship him.

    • Mikael says:

      I don’t think Marvel/Disney will let him put too much of that depressing ending stuff in there. He had more control with his own shows. And I believe Angel’s terrible ending was because it wasn’t supposed to be the end. They thought they’d get renewed and didn’t.

    • Bianca says:

      You enjoyed Buffy and Angel, but you didn’t like the endings, so you’re never going to watch another show by Joss Weeden. That makes sense. Why don’t you watch the show until you know it’s going off the air, then just skip the finale? Well maybe if you’re lucky, they’ll schedule it as the lead in for the show Happy Endings, then it will always be watchable.

  13. Em J says:

    Legal issues? With what the name S.H.I.E.L.D? People do know this thing is based on a comic book right? As in S.H.I.E.L.D has been around for quite some time in the comic books! since the 1960s! If there is another show called SHIELD please point me to it! :D <3
    No matter what it's called I am still watching it! xD

  14. DL2 says:

    I have a feeling this will take off for not only a future series, but as a doorway to the other Marvel superheroes. So that way they don’t need to make a new movie for them, at least for some. Whedon knows what he’s doing, and I’m sure Disney/Marvel have the most faith in him because he is from TV.

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