Posts Tagged ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’

So its been awhile. I know. 

The new job is awesome, but I have been putting in some long days .Actually, I am typing this up on my lunch break. THAT’S how crazy its been.  I will be better I promise! 

But here’s the real reason that I wanted to talk to you today.  There is this little article that @EllieSullie (and, unbeknownst to be until after the fact) @JulianGrant threw up on their Facebook feeds.

It pissed me off to no end folks.

I will be nice and link you to said article which you can read here.  The gist of the article is this, that the “strong female characters” we have been seeing in films lately are really just… to use the author, Tasha Robinson’s own words “Superfluous, Flimsy Character disguised as a Strong Female Character”.

She lists example after example of this: 

-Valka in How to Train Your Dragon 2

-Wildfyre in The Lego Movie

-Tauriel in THe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

-Dahl in Riddick

-Carol Marcus in Star Trek: Into Darkness

and more and more.  Here’s where I get ticked off:

The idea of the Strong Female Character—someone with her own identity, agenda, and story purpose—has thoroughly pervaded the conversation about what’s wrong with the way women are often perceived and portrayed today, incomics {sic}, videogames, and film especially.” 

This is an annoyance right here. The entire article focuses on films. If you are going to mention comics and video games, then guess what, you need to give examples of those too, which Ms. Robinson does not. (This is Speech 101 kicking in). However, I would like to bluntly express, in my post, I will NOT be talking about video games because I am not a gamer.

However, I am a TV/Movie/Comic Geek and Gender theory in mass media is one of my favorite subjects.

The other thing, she only gives one- yes ONE- good example, which is….. Emily Blunt’s character, Rita in the recently released Edge of Tomorrow. That’s it. One example of a positive (by her standards) strong female character.

I do agree with Ms. Robinson that there are a number of “wanna-be” SFC in mass media, but to give only one positive example is ridiculous. I ranted on @elliesullie’s post on this, and I realized there are a ton of SFC in film, television and in comics. So to balance out the negative article, here is a list (not completely comprehensive, because that would take probably 8 years to read) of strong female characters, through and through.

According to Ms. Robinson, to be a “legit” strong female character needs to do the following:

  1. After being introduced, do something that is “fundamentally significant to the outcome of the plot”. 
  2. If she is contributing to the plot, is it something other than getting hurt to motivated the hero? (I.e. what I always called the “damsel in distress” role).
  3. If the character could be replaced with a note on an inanimate object, then she is not useful to the plot.
  4. She cannot be the strongest/fastest/meanest etc until the male protagonist shows up who is stronger/meaner etc
  5. If she never needed to be rescued before, does she get rescued in this story to make the male hero look good?  (For comic fans- think of the old Fantastic Four or X-men comic books where all of a sudden Sue Storm got a nose bleed in the beginning of a fight or Jean Grey wandered off to fix her make up). 

So with that five qualifiers in mind, I would like to present to you some of the most kick ass “Strong Female Characters” in TV, Film and Comics.

(Some with explanations, but a complete list will be added and continued to update as time goes on). 

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  • Glenn Close as Monica Rawling, Season 4 of The Shield

A former professor of mine, PG, can attest how much I love this character. I wrote a paper (it was suppose to be only 10 pages, I wrote close to 20) for my final grade for his class on Monica Rawling. 

Why is she so kick ass?  Well she is one of the first characters I ever saw that DID NOT fall into one of the major categories (whore/saint/damsel in distress). She was all of them. Coming from a cop family, I am VERY picky about my police shows but Ms. Close just made my jaw drop on the first line she has. Throughout the season she plays a tough as nails police captain (which right there, being a female captain is hard enough), dealt with unpopular politics of a controversial asset forfeiture program she spearheaded and even went out with the Strike Team to kick ass and take names. She didn’t see herself above anyone else, and even though she was a captain, didn’t have an office. She planted herself right in the thick of everything (defiantly-lead from the front, not behind a desk).

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  • Black Widow (both in comics and portrayed by Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2, The Avengers and Captain America: Winter Solider

Ill be the first to admit that I have a girl crush on Black Widow. She has always been one of my favorite characters ever since I started reading the Daredevilcomic book. She is THE spy. She is NEVER the victim. I mean really, to be part of the KGB red room training is not something anyone could go through. Did Natasha ever go “woe is me, I was made into a KGB spy against my will?” No. She rolled with it and then turn coat and started working with America. So now, you have a KGB agent, who’s now an American agent? Hell’s yes. And if anyone questions her, she pretty much kills them. 

Now, with the film adaptation, I was slightly disgusted because in Iron Man 2, she was handled more like a trophy wife until the last 5 minutes of the film. Now in Avengers, Wheadon actually gave the character some depth, and then in Winter Solider, she actually seemed more….human… then in Iron Man 2.

@EllieSully pointed out that alot of the aforementioned article that makes me upset does force feed some ideas down kids throats (in regards to The Lego Movie) and that there wasn’t really much out there for kids.

I beg to differ.

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-Merida in Brave

I mean come on. She stands up to EVERYONE going “yeah, no I am not following tradition to be married off so we can get some land”, she is an early tomboy, “yes, I much rather play in the woods and shoot things with my bow and arrow”.  She realizes her mistake and does everything in her power to fix it, unlike the delayed realization with her mother.

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-Torunn in Next Avengers

I love… LOVE… Torunn. This Marvel animated movie (set in an alternate universe), is a story about the sons (and daughter) of the Avengers. The parents were killed by Ultron and they are being raised by none other than Mr. Bachelor himself, Tony Stark. 

Torunn is the daughter of Thor and is upset because she thinks her dad either left her and/or is dead. Understandable why she is upset.  She is very much into her heritage. So much so she goes to the opposite extreme to be Asgardian as possible- even trying to put words like “Verily” into her every day speech. She goes through the true hero’s path (stubbornness, fighting, loosing something she thinks is important, realizing that it isn’t important, saving the day— wow, sound like her father much??) Her journey is practically a mirror image to the Thor film. At the end of the day- even though she could return to Asgard and be with her family, she decides to stay on Earth and take care of her little “brothers”. 

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Agents Simmons and  May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

There are various reasons why these two should go on the list. Simmons is smart as a whip, May is a tactical genius. Simmons creates all types of gadgets etc and geeks out reading scientific studies. May, well she is nicknamed (much to her dismay) “The Calvary” for a reason. These two, both being on the same show, display vastly different aspects  of a “strong female character”- both brains and brawn. Do they need to be rescued sometimes? Yeah that happens to even some of the male heroes on the show, so you cannot count it against them.

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Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller in Sons of Anarchy

There is a specific reason that I used the image above with that quote. I will agree with some people that the way Gemma handles things is not exactly ethical, but its coming from a good place. If they need to put a picture with the phrase “Mama Bear” then it has to be of Gemma/Katey. For those who haven’t seen the show, Gemma has been a victim of rape and also of domestic abuse. I am only using the word “victim” here to classify the plot. She was NOT a victim by any stretch of the imagination. She picked herself up, brushed herself off and in the moved on (to do some devious planning to retaliate against the people that hurt her, but you get the idea). 

Other Strong Female Characters: (listed)

  • Agent Carter (Captain America: The First Avenger and the upcoming Agent Carter miniseries on ABC)
  • Agent Scully (X-Files TV show and movies)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (both television and comic books)
  • Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager
  • Hermonie Granger in the Harry Potter Series (Both books and films)
  • Pepper Potts in the Iron Man films
  • Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games (both books and movies) 
  • Wonder Woman (Comics and the ever loved Lynda Carter TV Series)
  • Xena the Warrior Princess (TV)

Please feel free to comment and throw your two sense in here folks. The bigger this list gets the better! Support your reasoning and I will update this post (asap) with your reason on the list! 

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So I have this love hate thing going on with Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” (which forever on I will refer to as AOS).  This is a bit lengthy of a post, so I apologize in advanced. Go grab some coffee, log into your SHIELD level 7 computer and read:

This show is just so awesome. There has been a lot of criticism lately that its so slow paced and that it has nothing to do with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with the exception of Clark Gregg  reprising his role (again) as Agent Phil Coulson.  Everyone is so wrong about this. The show is genius, just pure genius. Why? It’s the little things, one being the dialogue, which reminds me  a lot of Whedon’s other shows (particularly Buffy the Vampire Slayer) .

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Much like Whedon’s other properties, there is a great group dynamic. Britishness

I know that there are a lot of fans *cough* Scourge *cough* who have been disappointed with the show because it took so long to set everything up. As I pointed out to him and now everyone else, you kind of had to do it this way. Speaking as a producer :

* I have to assume that people have not seen all if not any of the Marvel films. (I know box office numbers say otherwise on this, but how may of those ticket sales were repeat people? Scourge and I saw The Avengers four times apiece in the theaters).

* Because of the above point, I cannot automatically dump every reference possible from the word “go”. It would turn off any viewer who hasn’t seen (insert MCU film here). Have you ever watched something of a series and gone “What the hell is going on?” Then you either have to start from the top or try to figure it out or you just give up. (Like I did with Lost).

*There are a number of characters in this show that are not part of the Marvel Cannon at all. Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), Skye (Chloe Bennet) and the team of FitzSimmons ( Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge  respectively) have never appeared in other MCU properties and to my best of knowledge, never appeared in any of the Marvel Comics either. So there is that to contend with in building these characters and their backgrounds.

*Last but not least, as a huge fan of the Marvel Comics world (both the traditional regular 616 universe and the ultimate universe), I have noticed throughout the films and now with this show, there is a hybrid going on between the two different universes. For example, in the Avengers movie we had a team line up consisting of Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow.  In the traditional 616 universe, the team actually was everyone but Hawkeye and Black Widow (instead it was Ant-Man and Wasp). In the 616 universe Hawkeye and Widow eventually do become members of the Avengers.  In the ultimate version of the team, same as the 616 team but Hawkeye and Widow are part of a “black ops” team that is not even known to anyone but Fury for awhile.

With that example, there are some  things with AOS you need to explain such as what exactly SHIELD is, the structure, how the characters fit in so on and so forth.

With these first episodes of the season it did come across as “one-offs”.  Almost like The X-Files meets a weird version of Law & Order.  For those people that think this, go back and re-watch. Marvel is extremely particular in what they do. Ignoring the “Marvel One-Shots” that are included in Blu-Ray copies of the films, there are references to everything if you look hard enough. Don’t believe me? Go re-watch The Avengers.  Bruce Banner makes a comment about “breaking Harlem” which is in direct reference to The Incredible Hulk film. In that film, if you look closely, when Hulk is yelling at the cliff, there is thunder and lighting in the background, which is a great reference to Thor. Speaking of, in The Avengers while Thor and Loki are arguing, look closely to see a couple of ravens flying. Those are Odin’s ravens which you see again in Thor:The Dark World. I could do another few blog posts about all the references   In essence, nothing should be disregard when it comes to a Marvel project.

Going back to AOS I think the huge problem the show has had is similar to the East Coast office of Marvel with shipping problems. I don’t know who to blame for this- ABC, the showrunners, Marvel, but for the sake of it, I’ll blame ABC because they air the show.

This is the schedule of release of the shows (thanks to Wikipedia for this) :

No.

Title

Air date

Rating/share
(18–49)

Total viewers
(millions)

1

Pilot September 24, 2013

4.7/14

17.01[85]

2

0-8-4 October 1, 2013

3.3/10

13.17[86]

3

“The Asset” October 8, 2013

2.9/9

12.01[87]

4

“Eye Spy” October 15, 2013

2.8/8

11.60[88]

5

“Girl in the Flower Dress” October 22, 2013

2.7/8

11.16[89]

6

“F.Z.Z.T.” November 5, 2013

2.5/7

10.93[90]

7

“The Hub” November 12, 2013

2.2/6

10.13[91]

8

“The Well” November 19, 2013

2.4/7

10.31[92]

9

“Repairs” November 26, 2013

2.6/8

12.75[93]

10

“The Bridge” December 10, 2013

2.1/6

9.16[94]

11

“The Magical Place” January 7, 2014

2.2/6

9.65[95]

12

“Seeds” January 14, 2014

2.2/6

9.59[96]

13

“T.R.A.C.K.S.” February 4, 2014

2.2/6

9.77[97]

14

“T.A.H.I.T.I.” March 4, 2014

1.8/6

15

“Yes Men” March 11, 2014

2.1/7

As you can see, the viewer ratings have consistently dropped.  The biggest is between November 26th and December 10th. Why was there a week long gap? Who knows. But then it gets worse with the release schedule. Another 3 week break between December 10th and January 7th. another 2 week break between January 14th and February 4th.  Then a full month before the next episode on March 4th. Now that last gap was more thank likely because ABC didn’t want to  have to compete with the Olympics.  Which makes sense. But in my humble opinion, what should have happened is a consistent release until December 10th then picking up everything again the week of February 25th. This would have avoided the Olympics, given almost 2 months to do a campaign for the “Spring second half ” of the season (think similar to what Fox has done with Glee).

My idea above should also accommodate tie-in issues. Starting with the March 4th episode we have the, what I will refer to as a crossover like in the comic books, titled “Uprising”.  The only crossover at this point has been with Thor: The Dark World (episode “The Well” which aired a week after Thor: The Dark World released) This weeks episode (March 11th, “Yes Men”) had an appearance by Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) who returned to Earth to capture Lorelei (Elena_Satine)  per the orders of Odin.

Speaking of this episode, I will try not to spoil Thor: The Dark World for those who haven’t seen it yet. For those who have, and heard about Sif’s orders…. this is EXACTLY what I am talking about in regards to Marvel doing things purposefully. Really? Odin wants Loreli as a warrior? REALLY? Hmmmm.  I was also wondering, before the show aired, how they were going to accommodate the fact that Sif indirectly knows Coulson visa via Thor talking about him, yet its been made clear since the first episode, that Coulson wasn’t allowed to talk to the Avengers team. Another reason that Marvel is so awesome- they are are on top of things. This issue was addressed early on in this week’s episode.

Marvel: to whoever your script supervisors are between AOS and the rest of the MCU- please give them a raise. Seriously. They deserve it.

Back to the tie in issues- If you haven’t see the trailer for Captain America: The Winter Solider, here you go:

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As you can see, S.H.I.E.L.D is a huge part of this film, and more than likely the ramifications of the movie will domino affect into AOS which could also explain a bit of their release schedule problems.

In essence, if you haven’t been watching this show, go download it on on Itunes/Google Play. Give it a few episodes. If you have been watching the show, despite the funky release schedule, hang on. I promise, just based on EVERYTHING else Marvel has done, we haven’t even started to get bumpy yet on this ride.

PS>

If you watch the episodes live, go on twitter and follow the following people:  @IMBrettDalton@ChloeBennet4,@MingNa@jedwhedon,  @josswhedon@AgentsofSHIELD@JoeQuesada@AgentM and last but not least @clarkgregg I guarantee, the show is more brilliant (if possible) while all these cool (but not crazy) cats are live tweeting.

Tahiti