Our preview of the possible comic-book television series from this year's Comic-Con

By James Hibberd
July 12, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

What we know
Comic-book characters, a major film franchise, and writer-director Joss Whedon have assembled to form a superpowered Avengers-style TV series. Instead of focusing on heroes in tights and masks, however, S.H.I.E.L.D. chronicles the mortals working for the secret intelligence organization charged with protecting humanity from bizarre threats.

What we sorta know
At least some of the top secret Level 7 pilot will be screened at Comic-Con, and it will hint at how mild-mannered kick-ass bureaucrat Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) was resurrected to lead the team after being killed off in The Avengers. ”We can’t wait to pull the curtain back on that,” says co-creator Jed Whedon. ”[But] we’re going to take our time.”

What we totally don’t know
So much! Which major Marvel superheroes might pop in for a guest appearance? (Thor seems possible for a crossover stunt, given that his big-screen sequel arrives in November.) How much involvement will Joss have beyond directing the pilot? (”We would be lucky to have him in any capacity,” says Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb.) And can the hugely ambitious series impress Avengers fans on a TV budget? ”Are we going to be able to have 30 Iron Men come out of the sky? No,” Loeb admits. ”But we can do something that’s supercool, that makes you laugh and cry.”