So, it’s official. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. is a hit. While I had problems with the series pilot, I’m happy to hear it. Marvel on Television makes me happy. And it makes the competition get more competitive, apparently.
Just announced yesterday, Fox has landed a deal with Warner Bros. and the creator of The Mentalist, Bruno Heller to bring us Gotham, a new series set in Gotham City (no surprise there). The show will focus on Detective James Gordon as he busts bad guys and solves crimes before ever meeting the big Bat. This idea has been in the works for almost a year already but it seems very obvious why they chose this week to make their big reveal. This announcement shines a light on a trend that’s hitting the small screen: Comic Book shows that feature less superheroes and more regular folk.
DC started this trend with their hit, Arrow. While the show does feature costumed characters with outlandish back stories, the series has remained grounded in the fact that none of these folks have superpowers. I know that the Flash is set to debut on the show this year but for the most part, Arrow’s about a guy who’s really good with a bow battling other skilled fighters. Now with Agents of SHIELD you have a group of super spies with no metahuman abilities dealing with the extraordinary that must be kept secret from the world. Yes, there are going to be folks with powers on this show but it’s not about them. It’s about how our group of regular agents deal with guys with powers and aliens and whatnot. Like I said in my review, I see this being like Chuck meets X-Files set in the Marvel U. With Fox and Warner’s new series, we’ll be seeing a police procedural taking place in one of DC Comics’ most famous locales. So by cutting out the expensive elephant in the room, DC and Marvel (or Warners and Disney as it were) have found a way to bring their world to television at a reasonable price. I like what’s going on so far but will this be a problem in the long run?
If Gotham is popular, will this spawn more superhero shows without superheroes. I know that the success of SHIELD‘s first episode coupled with the buzz around the Agent Carter Marvel One Shot short film (included on the Iron Man 3 Disc) has created the possibility for an Agent Carter series. This sounds great. I am looking forward to see if they get it off the ground. My only worry is that if you flood the market with shows like this, ones that loosely connect to the world you’re trying to put together in the movies, there is a possibility of setting up a foundation that destined to fail. Jim Sterenko went on record on the Hollywood Reporter site stating that he didn’t like the Agents of SHIELD premiere and his main reason was that there wasn’t enough tension or menace. He felt that the “larger than life characters” that are associated with S.H.I.E.L.D. were missing from the main cast. While I didn’t find the cast terrible, I’d have to agree with him. What a comic book story needs to work is the “Go Big or Go Home” mantality. Arrow has this. Hopefully Agents of SHIELD will have this as it rolls out it’s episodes. If we’re going to have more comic properties on television, they still need to have the heightened tension of a comic book. I don’t want Gotham to feel like The Mentalist and I don’t want Agents of SHIELD to feel like The X-Files. And I’m not talking about money. I know these shows have limits to their budgets. I’m talking about smart storytelling that pushes the envelope and doesn’t fall back on tried and true t.v. tropes.
In the end, time will tell if these shows rise to their full potential or if they become just like every other network show on television. My hope is that the folks in charge don’t get rid of what makes these properties special.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!