Superheroes Round 8: Agents of SHIELD
I watched the first episode of Agents of SHIELD, and felt it was worth a quick review. As ever, here there be spoilers.
Too Cool to Kill
What actually happened to Agent Coulson? This, of course, is the first question that would be asked by anyone who had already watched The Avengers. (Well, after the cheering stopped. Coulson is a delightful, power-free Captain America fanboy.)
The answer? Well, Coulson says that he stopped breathing for a bit, but the medical care was good enough for him to pull through. Nick Fury just faked his death to make the Avengers play nice with each other. Coulson says he got bored recuperating in Tahiti.
And then… the implications by a couple of the other characters. “Does he know?” “No, he can never know.”
Which makes me wonder which variant on the back-from-the-dead tropes they’re planning to pull. Resurrected with alien technology seems most likely, but there are also pretty good odds on clone and robot. We’ll have to wait and see how cheap death is in this series.
There are lots of them.
One that impressed me was the “centipede” device that gives a couple of normal guys superpowers. Your super-strength comes at the cost of anger management issues, which, if inadequately managed, cause you to explode. It’s still scientifically ridiculous, of course, but it is explicitly derived from the Extremis human-enhancement thingamabob that appears in Iron Man 3, and includes both visual similarities and as well as the possibility of humans-made-of-explodium. (Don’t worry, the review on that film is coming shortly.) I firmly approve of consistency.
Also entertaining is Lola, Coulson’s car. It looks like a well-maintained old-school red Corvette. Nice silver shiny details. And then… in the end scene, it actually flies.
It looks a bit more like a hovercar, actually. But that leaves us with the fundamental problem, as discussed in the post about Independence Day. To fly, the hovercar must exert a downward force, and the reaction pushes the car up against gravity. That downward force has to do something… which involves a certain amount of squishing of things on the ground underneath. It’s like the downdraft from a helicopter. Or the backwash from a rocket being launched. (Planes do this, too, but they’re usually so high in the air that the force in question is spread over a very large area.) And where did Coulson get Lola, anyway?
The Not-Quite-Ominidisciplinary Scientists
This is better. In fact, much better than most shows of this type.
Also, Fitz and Simmons are hilarious. Leo Fitz is our engineer with a fondness for weapons tech, and Jemma Simmons is our expert in biology. This is awesome! We don’t have to make Spock do it all. For bonus points, the person who gives the various agents medical clearance is yet another person, different from Simmons — an encouraging distinction, since back in real life, relatively few researchers are experts in both medical science and all the rest of biology all at once. (There are some people with both an MD and PhD — and they work with both medical research and patients. They impressively skilled and dedicated individuals, and also in very short supply.)
By the end of the episode, a woman named Skye is recruited as the new Hollywood Hacker. So we don’t even have to make our poor engineer also be the computer expert. Yay! So, each of them will only have to know between 1/3 and 1/2 of everything there is to know about science, engineering, and computers. Piece of cake, right?
A Comment on Team Composition
This leaves the team with an interesting mix:
We have Coulson, who is essentially playing Captain. We have Melinda May, the pilot and weapons expert; Grant Ward, the black ops and sniper guy; and our three scientists.
Half the team is non-combat-focused people. Presumably, they can call for more muscle for backup if they need to. This is a bit different from the usual setup, where the team is all about each person having a different fighting style and having one Smart Guy in the mix. [EDIT: Watching Episode 2, it looks like one of the first arguments between the senior agents is… we already had two non-coms, Coulson, and you’re adding a third?! I approve of the characters’ actual awareness of the situation.]
Half the team is women.
When I consider that most superhero teams have one woman at most to prove that they’re not all men (e.g., the Avengers), this makes me happy.