I unapologetically have no time to watch TV when it airs. So, it’s rather surprising that I was able to watch Agents of SHIELD last night.
But, if you know me, perhaps not that surprising. Because I love Agent Coulson. I had a small twinge of jealousy during Avengers when he said there was a cellist in Portland. I nearly ripped my theatre seat out of the ground when Loki stabbed him in the back. I hung on through the movie, thinking, “No body, no death,” the reality of action movies, but the movie ended.
And, seemingly, Coulson ended with it.
Now, as anyone knows, Coulson is back and as quippy as ever. And he comes bearing conspiracy.
The pilot episode explains Coulson’s reappearance as Nick Fury faking our favorite agent’s death to get the Avengers to work as a team. This hypothesis is icky. If Coulson’s death was a fake, it’s ultimately meaningless, considering everything that Coulson stands for. However, Maria Hill and Doc Shepard (Firefly guy) hang on Coulson’s resurrection a little too long. So long, in fact, that we know there’s something rotten in the state of Strategic Homeland Initiative, Enforcement and Logistics Division.
The general agreement is that Agent Phil Coulson of Agents of SHIELD is a life model decoy. I’m not placing my bets on that, but it’s certainly possible.
Any way, the thing that I really wanted to talk about was the definition of heroism. io9.com posed this in their biggest unanswered questions about Agents of SHIELD:
Are all superheroes essentially psychotic?
This seems to be one major theme of the episode — Michael gets superpowers and uses them to help people, just like the Avengers. But he resists doing the whole “costumed hero” thing when Skye suggests it… until he starts to go insane due to the tech in his arm. Then he suddenly starts talking about being a hero, and his mean factory foreman being “the bad guy.” And he tells the nice doctor lady that this is his origin story. So… is the whole idea of being called to heroism just a form of psychosis? Is it essentially sociopathic? At the end of the episode, though, Michael says “it matters who I am,” and Agent Coulson turns that around into a thing where Michael’s real chance for heroism is self-sacrifice — saving the people in the train station from his own spontaneous combustion. (And then luckily, it doesn’t come to that, thanks to Fitzsimmons.)
This is an interesting idea and, while I won’t bet on the true nature of the current Phil Coulson, I would wager that Agents of SHIELD will be addressing a lot of the stigma around heroism. The tagline, after all, is “Not all heroes are super.”
Part of my love of Phil Coulson is this weird grey area he exists in. He’s definitely a hero. In Avengers, he’s the hero that the super-powered aspires to be. He faces a “god” because it’s the right thing to do. At the same time, Coulson absolutely loves his job. Is he just following orders?
Anyway, I would purpose some major unanswered questions of my own:
Will Phil Coulson be in the next Avengers movie?
You can’t just ignore the fact that Coulson is back. While the Marvel cinematic universe just got a little bigger, it’s still very insular. Coulson was the go-to guy on ALL the heroes. He was Thor’s contact, the first man on the job when Tony Stark started suiting up, and even saved Pepper a few times in the first Iron Man film. Not to mention JARVIS could have out with the big secret within 20 seconds of half-assed hacking.
How will the heroes react to it?
They don’t need Coulson anymore. But, if they stick with the cover story that Nick Fury is a liar, well, that’s not real great for team cohesiveness.
Where are the super-powered?
A lot of people wanted the Michael character to be Luke Cage. And, that’s not a bad tactic, introducing Marvel characters less likely to get their own movies into the television universe. However, my thought is that we won’t see any super powers. We’ll be seeing how people in a world with the superpowered deal with not having them. And, that’s pretty much how the series has been billed. Maybe we’ll get these characters later, but I doubt we’ll see supers in the first season outside of artificial ones.
What does this mean for the cinematic universe?
In the comics, all of the Marvel heroes exist in the same universe. X-men, Avengers, Spider-man, they’re all kicking it around in the same world. With 20th Century Fox holding on to X-men and Sony with the iron grip on Spider-man, who knows when these properties will be back together on-screen. Stop celebrating the Batman/Superman movie, give me Spider-man/Human Torch or Wolverine vs. Hulk. One can only hope that competing companies will play nice for the sake of Marvel’s success. But realistically, Coulson might have to die again to make that happen.
In a little over a year of living in Los Angeles, I now have two official IMDB credits to my name. Check it out.
I wrote and helped shoot this one.
Well, Fringe is over. So goes another sci-fi show on Fox.
I figured with the news about J.J. Abrams inheriting the new Star Wars, I should talk about this. Who am I kidding? It’s Fringe. I would talk about it anyway.
The 5th and final season of Fringe wasn’t so great. There. I said it. Compared to the rest of the series, the 5th season left something to be desired. This is a little ironic. I remember when Letters of Transit aired, the original Observer-controlled future episode in season 4, I wanted there to be a whole spinoff series based in that world. That’s exactly where they put season 5, but here’s the problem: I didn’t want Olivia and Peter and Walter involved.
Imagine SHIELD, the upcoming Joss Whedon show. It’s not going to be about the Avengers, it’s going to be about SHIELD, which means we have the opportunity of investing in new characters in a familiar world. It’s exciting and new, but tried in true. We get to take our existing frame of reference and apply it to new situations. Human brain function relies on pattern recognition, and this feeds that function. We know the patterns. Now, we bump up to a new pattern hierarchy.
Fringe put the Avengers in SHIELD. I wanted to see resistance fighters using Fringe events to strike back against the Observers. This didn’t really happen in season 5 until the last few episodes. And while it was wholly satisfying, it would have been more entertaining to see them using the knowledge established in the first four seasons on the next level.
I wanted to see Henry Ian Cusick as the lead rebel leader. He died.
I wanted to see an army of cortexiphan super humans, the normals who responded to treatment. Wasn’t this what the series was setting up? The closest we get to this payout is the second to last episode, where Olivia is dosed with cortexiphan again in order to jump universes. Shouldn’t they have thought of that sooner? Appealing to the other universe for help? Ah well. Why dwell on it?
Really, the best way to deal with the Observer invasion was a spinoff series, but that probably wasn’t possible. Maybe he did the best with what he had.
Abrams had a time limit, with a truncated episode order. But, the ending amounted to hitting the reset button. And this is why I don’t think Abrams should have Star Wars.
Abrams doesn’t do endings.
He’s amazing at beginnings, great at middles…not so much endings. And, if he (and the royal We) can’t let go of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia, we’re not going to be satisfied with a new Star Wars movie.
He’s a fan of hitting reset buttons. This boils down to two things: don’t ask questions you never intend on answering, and don’t forget to deliver your promise of the premise.
In a perfect world, Abrams would have done the prequels, Lucas would have done the middle trilogy, and…who would I cast as the ending leader?
Joss Whedon. He knows how to write an ending. Look at Buffy. Look at Avengers. Man knows how to write an ending. Of course, Whedon would kill Chewie. Or some other beloved character. But you take the style with the style.
That’s my feelings on Fringe. Didn’t end so great. So, if you’re going to watch, stop with season 4 and you’ll be all right.
I realized that I didn’t really talk about this on the Interwebz, and part of the reason is because I wanted to tell people in person. I mean, there’s something impersonal about reading it on a blog. But, since everyone’s doing their yearly recap, this is bound to get lost in that shuffle.
I’m sorry if I didn’t tell you in person, but everyone I’ve wanted to tell face-to-face I’ve told face-to-face unless I’m not going to see them in the foreseeable future, so here it goes.
I’m a working writer.
Not in the “I’ve gotten a rejection letter” sense. That happened, like, eight years ago. No, I’m a working writer in the sense that my words are being performed.
If you missed the Facebook announcement, I am a staff writer for TMI: Hollywood, a show on stage at Second City Hollywood. I’m also a contributing writer to Top Story! Weekly which is a show at the iO West Theater in Hollywood.
I owe a big thanks to Candace Haven. One night, in her swank Beverly Hills Hotel penthouse (where people make promises they intend on keeping), she forced me to make a list of goals with a deadline attached to them. One I made was to be in a writers’ room by January and I was in a writers’ room by October.
So, that’s the news from this side of the desk. I will be writing the pilot episode of my sitcom and possibly staging it within the next four months, so that should be fun. Maybe some of that will end up here.
I was never a fan of the word “aspiring,” but, regardless, I can dump it now. Also, I’m not really an “author,” so I’ll go with “Comedy Writer.”
Go Theater Nerds!
It’s getting to be that time of year when we have extended periods of time with our families. They’re the ones you haven’t seen in months, but even so, you’re all caught up on life within ten minutes (I blame the Internet).
We can’t disappear into class or the workosphere. There’s so much time to bask in the warmth of kith and kin.
Here are some top Netflix picks to get you through the holidays.
If given the choice between Mirror Mirror and Snow White and The Huntsman, I would pick Mirror Mirror. It’s not just that it’s better written; Mirror Mirror has stunning visuals that SWATH can’t compare. In MM, the purity vs. corruption metaphors are HUGE and overt, but in a well told story that’s satisfying and twisting enough to hold anyone’s attention. Definitely take a look.
2. A League of Their Own
YES! This is on Netflix and this movie is (in my opinion), one of the best movies ever made. The dialogue is precise and witty. This movie is the definition of quotable. If you’re as disappointed as I am about the outcome of the World Series (or not, either way), this baseball movie will help ease the pain of a concluded baseball season. While Tom Hanks and Geena Davis stand out, A League of Their Own has a stellar ensemble, including Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna. A tip of the hat to Penny Marshall’s greatest.
Crying? Are you crying? There’s not crying in baseball!
3. Shakespeare in Love
This movie is 14 years old. Amazing. But, don’t forget, this gem won 7 Oscars including Best Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Picture. It was nominated for six other Oscars. Love or hate Shakespeare, it doesn’t matter. This movie is a wonderful diversion.
In this movie, Albert Einstein tries to hook his super smart niece up with an auto mechanic. Meg Ryan plays the niece; Tim Robbins, the auto mechanic. This movie was made back when Meg Ryan was still America’s sweetheart. Stephen Fry rounds out the love triangle. The writers really called in the Meg Ryan style of cuteness and irrelevant observation.
For Mature Audiences Only:
5. Breaking Bad
Catch Grandma and Grandpa up on the life and times of Walter White. For all those grandparents asking, “What’s all this about the bad breaking?” Even if it’s not the thing for the grandparents, it should keep the uncles entertained before the football’s on. Same goes for The Walking Dead.
Weed is legal in Colorado and Washington now. How many of your family members are thinking of moving? The holidays is a great time to look at other people’s families and say, “At least I’m not them.” No matter how hilarious they are.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of The Avengers. After Hulk smash puny wizard by knocking Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II from the top spot for domestic grossing opening weekend, The Avengers is headed for another record breaking weekend. The second weekend will be in the $95-105 million range pummeling current record holder Avatar, which earned $75.6 million in its second weekend.
No film has ever done it faster.
A moneymaker does not an Academy Award make, but Writer/Director Joss Whedon deserves a nod all the same. For at least three categories, including Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture, here’s why I nominate Joss Whedon for the Academy Award.
BUT BE YE WARNED, THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD
1. He made the Hulk work.
When most people walked out of Avengers, the name playing across their lips wasn’t Stark or Loki. It was Hulk. Whedon installed a personality upgrade to the big green rage monster. Hulk wasn’t just fueled by the most brutal of human emotions, which seemed to be the trend of the Hulk’s previous two films, Mark Ruffalo’s CGI monster has a sense of humor.
There’s even a moment when he saves Iron Man’s life and practically shouts him back from the dead. There was plenty of concern pre-release on what role man’s bestial nature would play and if Whedon and Ruffalo could pull it off. They did.
2. He got that cast to make that movie
Let’s crunch some numbers.
Gwyneth Paltrow – Winner Academy Award Best Actress, 1999
Robert Downey Jr – Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor, 1992; Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 2009
Mark Ruffalo – Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 2011
Jeremy Renner – Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 2011; Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor, 2010
Samuel L. Jackson – Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 1995
That’s six noms, 1 win.
If you’re judged by the company you keep, the Avengers is a pretty good crowd to hang around.
What’s even more impressive: find any interview featuring more than one Avenger and you might get an idea of what it was like to work with these guys day to day. They are impressive. They are hilarious. It’s remarkable they got any work done at all. But, you can tell from the linked interview that Joss Whedon can take control and command the personalities.