"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is smart, witty, and self-referential — which is good and bad.
ABC's Avengers spinoff show "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." made a killing when the pilot premiered at Comic Con last week.
Critics who exist outside Marvel's nerd herd are about three-quarters as enthused.
"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," following an elite squad that investigates superhero sightings, delivers stunning special effects, strong character development, and "Whedonesque" dialogue.
Fans are saying the dead-on humor reminds them of director Joss Whedon's "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" days.
The show promises many Easter eggs from the Marvel universe, which is awesome for people who get the inside jokes and sometimes off-putting for those new to the comics.
Some are saying the action is down-sized compared to the major motion pictures, demonstrating that the showrunners aren't trying to bite off more than they can chew.
"Trying to pull off a cinematic idea on a TV budget is one of the show’s big challenges," said Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd. "If anything, 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' was less lavish and action-driven than I expected. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It can be a mistake to make a costly pilot if it means that regular episodes look dinky by comparison."
Here's what else people are saying:
Brooks Barnes of The New York Times says some of the characters are difficult to understand.
"The first episode had a complicated storyline that, at moments, was hard for this (admittedly nongeek) reporter to follow. Two characters with extremely thick accents — an engineer, Leo Fitz, played by Iain De Caestecker, and a biochemist, Jemma Simmons, played by Elizabeth Henstridge — didn’t help matters.
"Still, the episode featured stunning special effects (a flying convertible, for instance) and looked expensive, something that panelists confirmed would continue beyond the pilot."
Marvel fans will like it. Just don't expect it to be like the movies.
"Whedon’s cleverness and wit run strong through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and while there are a couple of moments that don’t quite work, in terms of humor, for the most part, this is an incredibly crowd-pleasing pilot. Those looking for the scale of the Marvel movies will be disappointed – this is a high budget TV series, but it is a TV series – but S.H.I.E.L.D. quickly hits the right notes to firmly show how it exists on the ground level of the Marvel universe."
"The dialogue was, to give a shout out to a certain fan site, Whedonesque. It was the best aspect of the pilot, and precisely what you expect from this team. Smart, witty, self referential, with lines playing off your expectations (such as a riff on Spider-Man’s “with great power comes great responsibility” line).
"My TV-business side wondered this a few times: Is this show accessible enough to be a hit? When you have a joke referencing “the sweaty cosplay girls crowding around Stark Tower,” okay, that’s funny if you’ve seen the Iron Man films and you know what cosplay is. I suspect that’s 80 percent of EW readers. Yet I bet it’s a much, much lower percentage of ABC viewers."
io9's Charlie Jane Anders says there's not a lot at stake in terms of drama.
"The whole tone of the pilot is amazingly laid-back — there's almost no real danger or suspense for most of it, and where most TV pilots hammer you with "here's why you should care," 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' assumes you already care. You saw 'The Avengers' five times, right? So you're already on board, and we can just hang out and crack jokes.
"What the pilot doesn't have is a lot of drama or suspense. There are almost no stakes in this first episode, and there's almost no effort to get you excited if you weren't already excited after ' The Avengers .'"
And some reactions on Twitter from those who watched the pilot's premiere at Comic-Con:
The SHIELD pilot is at times cooler than I expected, but with moments of silliness and over the top network tv-style action
— Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) July 19, 2013
I'll do a Take Me To The Pilots on "S.H.I.E.L.D." tonight. It's fine. It's not great, though. Endless potential.
— Daniel Fienberg (@HitFixDaniel) July 19, 2013
— Ryan Penagos (@AgentM) July 19, 2013
— Lisa Gomez (@lisatwingomez) July 19, 2013
— Brian MacDonald (@Beanpole_Brian) July 19, 2013
— GamerHub.TV (@GamerHubTV) July 19, 2013
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