Tuesday, August 13, 2013

D23 Expo: First Impressions of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Pilot

It's Sunday at D23 Expo and the last big thing for the convention is the pilot screening of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. After getting there early Saturday to hop into one of the last spots inside Disney's Live Action Movie presentation, I figured I'd better get there plenty early for the S.H.I.E.L.D. screening. We arrived two hours early only to find a mere 200 people in line for a screening taking place in an arena which is about half the size of SDCC's Hall H. I asked a security person if this was the S.H.I.E.L.D. screening. He said yes. I then asked people in line if this is the S.H.I.E.L.D. screening. They said yes. I still didn't think this could be it! I went so far as to find a second security person to make sure. When we were let in I was surprised to see that the arena did not, that's right..DID NOT fill up.

When the lights in the Arena finally went dark and the film began to roll with a roar of approval from the audience, it brought back memories of seeing The Avengers movie. After all that waiting, we were finally getting to see it. Then I thought, will this live up to the hype?!? An hour later and all I can shout is YES!

The pilot starts out with a father and son in front of a widow of a comic book shop. His son is looking at statues of Thor, Captain America, Hulk, and Iron Man inside the shop. There is an explosion at the top floor of a nearby building and the father slips away to aid those in trouble. He puts his hoodie up and climbs the building with obvious super strength. We hear a women crying for help, then see the now infamous scene from the show's trailer of the hooded hero jumping out of the building as it explodes and landing on the street below, leaving crumbled asphalt beneath him. Witnesses shoot video of the scene with their cell phones. For a long time I thought, maybe that's Luke Cage, but I'm here to tell you today, it is not.

With video of the rescue going viral, it pops up on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s radar. Agent Hill needs to form a team to go after this hero. This is the part from trailer where we see Coulson saying "Welcome to level seven." He comes out from a dark shadow in the corner and even comments on his stealthy approach. "I think a light bulb is out in this corner."  Its Agent Coulson's first mission since recovering from his near death experience just before the "New York Incident". Coulson talks about how he saw a white light for 45 seconds before being brought back to life by S.H.I.E.L.D. medical staff with their high tech gadgets. Agent Hill jokes "Each time you tell that story, you were dead for more seconds." Since then, he has been recovering and relaxing on orders from Nick Fury. Coulson forms his personal team to go after the mysterious hero. After each member is signed on, they board a huge S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft to fly from NYC to LA. We see the trailer scene where Coulson drives his car onto the plane and says "Don't touch Lola."

Watching this, at times, I forgot we were viewing a TV show. It really felt like an Avengers movie and you can tell that it was a Joss Whedon script from the humor, action scenes and excellent, seamless use of CGI. It was shot so well with the special effects and locations blending to perfection, even a crazy shot in Paris made me turn to a friend after the screening and ask "What was the budget for this TV show?!?" It looked like it had the deep pockets of a full on Marvel Studios film! All the characters were great with instantly addictive chemistry between all of them. Of course, the lead ingredient of this melting pot of awesome is the insanely likable Agent Phil Coulson. There were plenty of references to the other Marvel movies, especially The Avengers. At one point they even  reference the first Thor movie as the "New Mexico cover up." The show fits in fantastically with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which was one of my favorite things while watching. The episode ends with the team looking to uncover who is behind the latest attempt to turn ordinary people into super solders. Personally, I'm wondering if this is going link A.I.M. and the Iron Man 3 story line. The only bad thing about watching this so early is I now have to wait til September to see what happens next!

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