The first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a case study in missed opportunities. For a show that has the fact that it’s set in the same universe as some of the most popular movies on the planet as a selling point, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was ridiculously stingy with its comic book references. It appeared that being closely tied to the Marvel Cinematic Universe was going to be more of a hindrance than a help—a list of things the show couldn’t use as opposed to a wealth of toys with which they could play.
This was an unfortunate side effect of Marvel’s success. With it’s A-list heroes like Spider-Man and the X-Men starring in movies made by other studios, Marvel was already starting up its own movie ambitions with second stringers (trust me, being an Iron Man or Hawkeye fan before 2007 was not a fun time). With the immense success that characters no one has ever heard of now making bank (looking at you, Guardians of the Galaxy), the creative team behind Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was left in a pretty difficult spot—with Marvel movies planned until the sun goes out (and all the cool heroes going to Netflix), just who is safe for them to use?
Fortunately, the Marvel Universe is absolutely full of wonderful Z-List characters like Paste Pot Pete, a villain whose superpower is being the example everyone thinks of when trying to list obscure Marvel villains. There’s also loads of fun stuff like Damage Control, the contractors who clean up the messes superheroes leave behind when they fight. Or Alpha Flight, Canada’s very own superhero team. Or Razorback, who… well, you’re probably better off not knowing about Razorback.
Point is, there’s a ton of stuff that AoS could’ve pulled from, and it spent almost its entire first season avoiding it.
The good news is that season two is a bit less gun-shy, with an honest-to-Stan-and-Jack comic book villain in Carl “Crusher” Creel, The Absorbing Man. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Last season ended with the fallout from Captain America: The Winter Soldier dramatically changing the status quo. Agent Coulson and what was left of his team—after Ward’s betrayal and Fitz’s uncertain fate—were charged with restarting S.H.I.E.L.D. from scratch—unsanctioned, unsupervised, and under the radar.
But the premiere doesn’t open with any of that. Instead, we start in Austria, in 1945, as Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos bust up a Hydra base that holds an artifact known as the Obelisk. It’s a great scene, and bodes well for Agent Carter—Haley Atwell kicking ass and taking names with the Howling Commandos sounds like so much fun, you guys. The scene is super brief, though, and really only serves as an introduction to what the plot of this episode will revolve around: the Obelisk.
NEXT: S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.0