News: Whedon to Bring S.H.I.E.L.D. to Television

Earlier in the month, it was announced that Joss Whedon, in addition to being on board for The Avengers 2, was also working on a television program for ABC based on a Marvel Comics property. Now Entertainment Weekly is reporting just which property that is: Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D., the paramilitary organization run by Nick Fury, as seen in The Avengers. ABC has officially ordered the pilot, which is being written by Joss Whedon, brother Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen. Joss Whedon is expected to direct the pilot episode.

To a certain extent, S.H.I.E.L.D. is a logical choice for a television series. It would fit in with the cop dramas that are always popular on TV, but would have a different feel as it would have more of a science-fiction comic book scope. They could reasonably stay within budget by having only a few superhuman elements per episode, such as a supervillain the S.H.I.E.L.D. team needs to track down. And it would allow Marvel Studios to flesh out the organization without taking time away from any of the big heroes on the big screen.

The one question I have is, who is going to be leading them? Nick Fury is in charge in the comics and the movies, but I don’t see Samuel L. Jackson signing on for a television program, and even if everybody involved was OK with the idea of a substitute Sam, I don’t think the audience would go for it.

About Morgan R. Lewis

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10 Responses to News: Whedon to Bring S.H.I.E.L.D. to Television

  1. Sounds like a good idea.

    Since the history of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a constant battle between them and HYDRA and A.I.M.–all predominately non-superhero powered organizations–it should work well with the limited budgets and extended storylines of television.

    • Yup. Have them fight AIM and HYDRA and just the occasional superpowered villain, and they shouldn’t stretch their budget too far. And considering science-fiction, fantasy, and superhero shows have had decent runs lately, they should be able to get a pretty decent budget.

  2. ray brayne says:

    This is a long,long way from seeing the light of day! This is an ABC project and all the major networks are thin in sci-fi/fantasy fare. If you consider the CW a major network there may be a half dozen on prime time from this genre. On indie and cable channels it might be ok to get lower ratings but ABC would yank this in a heart beat if it wasn’t a hit. The likelihood of that is slim. Cheap reality TV rules the air waves. I’m not sure who owns the Sy-Fy channel these days, I think it might be Comcast, but this is a show better suited for them.

    • Syfy is owned by NBC-Universal. Since Marvel and ABC are both owned by Disney, any Marvel TV projects are likely to be vetted for an ABC network first.

      It’s certainly true that ABC would probably yank it quickly if it’s not a hit, but that’s not really any different than any show. And SF&F shows typically get at least a full season simply because of the cost involved — they may not renew or pick up extra episodes beyond the initial order (though even notorious executioner FOX renewed Dollhouse for a second season despite record low ratings), but they don’t want to waste what they’ve had made. (Contrariwise, when a sitcom bombs, it often gets canceled after two episodes.) And the genre has been stronger in the past decade than probably at any other time. Heroes ran three seasons on NBC, Chuck for five, and now Grimm has been picked up for a second. Lost was a smash hit for ABC, and Once Upon a Time has been a solid hit for them. And while there have also been several that have fallen by the wayside, the fact is that the major networks seem to be trying the genre out a lot more than they have in a long time. In the 80s, it was pretty much only Star Trek; in the 90s, if it wasn’t Star Trek it was on a second- or third-tier network. Now the big guns are willing to try speculative fiction shows, and some of them have worked out.

      As a genre, it’s certainly not having as much trouble as, say, westerns, which haven’t been seen on major networks for decades and are seldom even seen on cable networks.

      • ray brayne says:

        I missed the joint Abc-Marvel ownership and that makes all the difference. They’ll risk more, spend more and invest more air-time to make it a hit. They’ll be far less likely to drop it even if it doesn’t win ratings. After all, the secondary market, which they’ll also own, is worth a hefty sum. The ownership rights is what’s behind this, not love of sci-fi or belief in the genre. Don’t give up on Westerns. This years’ Hatfields and McCoys was a smash hit. An almost Western.

        • Good point on the westerns; I forgot about how acclaimed Hatfields & McCoys was (I didn’t catch it, unfortunately). That might lead to a bit of a resurgence.

  3. Jaina says:

    Interesting. I’ve been waiting for Joss’ return to TV for a while. Hated Dollhouse with a fiery passion. Or actually, no passion, as it was just so eh!

    I do wonder if Cobie Smulders could play a part in this. I know she’s contracted in to HIMYM, but that show might bow out in time for this. Maria Hill would make for that strong female character that Joss loves to use in his shows.

    • I could see Smulders as a possibility… had a prominent enough role in the movie to be the “star” of the show, while not being a big movie star yet… and her role in HIMYM may or may not conflict (I don’t know how big her role in that is, but there have been actors that have had more than one TV show at a time.)

      I wasn’t too keen on Dollhouse either. 😀

      • Jaina says:

        She’s a major player in HIMYM. And sadly the show got renewed for 2 more years, this year. Unless they write her out, which I doubt they’d do.

        She could do two shows. Alison Brie’s got a minor role in Mad Men, but also appears in Community. It’s not unthinkable.

        Joss’ shows that do well are the ones with strong leading characters and a good ensemble. Dollhouse had the ensemble, but the leading character was AWFUL. Look at Buffy, Angel and Firefly. All had strong leaders and a great cast.

        I’m getting fairly excited about Joss Whedon again. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way about his work!

        • Yeah, I would say her presence depends on just how much time it takes for her to do either show. Assuming this is ready to shoot before HIMYM is over, which it may not be; I don’t know how long it usually takes for such things, but I know the proposed Hulk show wasn’t expected to hit until 2013 at the earliest.

          And no, the leading character in Dollhouse wasn’t very good, probably because she wasn’t really much of a character…

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