Will Hyde

Columnist

SHIELD offers audiences a unique way to connect Marvel’s growing live-action universe. Writer Joss Whedon anticipates using Agents of SHIELD as a way to interconnect past and upcoming silver screen Marvel projects by laying down the groundwork for new characters as well as further explaining older characters.

SHIELD, lately suspected to be Skye’s origin story, connects the hero Quake by bringing a unique backstory together. SHIELD, like many of its DC and Marvel counterparts brings a twist on old character tales— reinventing old backstories and connecting others.

Marvel’s SHIELD serves a different, larger purpose though. The show unites Marvel’s big screen projects, ties in Marvel’s other small screen series and essentially glues those projects together into a cohesive plot. SHIELD differs from any other live comic adaptation on air by interacting on a much larger scale.

SHIELD delves into some areas of detailed backstories that in some cases further explain Marvel projects like the Avengers, Captain America and Iron Man. Marvel, by connecting its TV shows and movies in such an intimate way, is arguably miles ahead of DC in creating a cohesive, cleanly united universe of superheroes and villains.

Beyond just providing origin stories, SHIELD is a knockout in its own right. Characters like Skye, May and Simmons show viewers what it means to be female in the Marvel universe. Melinda May, one of the most respected team members on the show is one of the classic femme fatales featured on most modern comic adaptations. May differs in other ways though. She adds diversity to the cast racially and with age.

The actress portraying Melinda May, Ming- Na Wen, also known for voicing Disney’s Mulan, has always played tougher females. May adds stability to the cast and an unstoppable strength that plays off of Coulson’s never-give-up attitude. May takes the masculine role of stoic gatekeeper— essentially the team’s muscle. May is a problem solver— she brings endless practical and tactical advice that often saves the day.

Skye, better known for her future superhero persona, Quake, adds another layer of girl power to the otherwise already diverse cast.  Skye adds her prestigious computer science knowledge (once again reminding viewers STEM fields aren’t just for guys) as well as her newly acquired spy training. Skye has changed so much over the past few seasons- viewers admire her struggle to grow up under the dramatic mentorship of SHIELD personnel.

Her origin story is amazing because it is so textured- she did not turn to vigilantism because of a singular event she is brought to SHIELD against her will, remained as a saboteur and decided to stay in an effort to better humanity. Skye, despite her alien roots, is probably the most relatable of the group. She is not untouchable like May, incorruptible like Coulson or as intelligent as Simmons. Skye brings a humanity to the superhero universe that is usually left off screen.

It is assumed superheroes have emotions- that they are flawed in judgment or immature in formation. With Skye, viewers aren’t asked to admire her one-dimensionally, but as a whole.

Agents of SHIELD returns on Tuesday, March 3, on ABC.