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)