One of the most talented men in Hollywood, Joss Whedon speaks and people listen. It’s a change from the days when he fought tooth and nail to save his big-screen vision of Buffy the Vampire Slayer from being destroyed by a short-sighted producer. Now, Whedon rules his celluloid world, and the proof is Agent Coulson’s return from the dead for the new Avengers TV show spin-off.
After the Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot was aired for critics, the 49 year-old writer, director, producer, composer and actor had question and answer session with the audience of critics who’d seen the preview on Sunday.
The first question was about characters from the big screen version of the Marvel verse making “drop-in” appearances on the show. Whedon first pointed out that the show might be a spin-off from the billion dollar blockbuster film Avengers Assemble, but that the show had to stand on its own merits. He then addressed the likelihood of Thor or Captain America or the Hulk appearing in cameos as he said, “we’re still working that out”.
The Buffy and Angel creator agreed that it would be great, but ultimately the television show wasn’t about the superheroes from the film verse. He said, “It’s a fun opportunity [but] it’s not the reason behind the show. This show has to work for people who are not going to see those movies or haven’t seen them before.”
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. will show a team of US secret agents who work for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. These agents are led by fan favourite Agent Phil Coulson, a recurring character in the film and in the comic books. His followers deal with the appearance of humans with super powers on Earth.
The world that Joss Whedon speaks of is one where amazing things can happen, just one of which is Agent Coulson returning from the dead. It’s a world that Joss is, not surprisingly, fascinated by. He’s been caught up by the story of “normal” humans sharing the world of superheroes. Joss said, “It’s about the people who didn’t get the hammer, and the idea that everybody matters.”
He explained, “The people who get shunted aside in the movies now get to take the spotlight. The show is very much about that sense of, ‘What about the rest of us? How do we cope with a world that now has aliens and gods?'”
ABC’s S.H.I.E.L.D. will air on 24 September. The pilot plotline has been kept secret, presumably so that the resurrection of Agent Coulson will be surprise. His return from the dead is one of the biggest interests of fans of the quiet man who idolized Captain America.
Actor Clark Gregg, who plays Agent Coulson, says that he was pretty sure his character died, The 51 year old actor said, “It was really clear that I was dead.” Gregg went on to say that, “Four or five months after The Avengers, I got a call from Joss and we talked about how much we wanted to have whatever reason Coulson had for being alive and walking around, not be anything that undermined the reality of The Avengers.”
Apparently, the secret behind Coulson’s “Lazarus trick” was a good one. Because Gregg added, “When he explained to me a little bit more… I hung up the phone very deeply on board.”
Joss directed the pilot, but he’s said that it is unlikely that he’ll return to the director’s chair any time soon. He said, “I don’t think it will happen again for the next couple years, because I’m getting behind another camera in another country.”
Whedon is currently doing post-production work on the paranormal romance film In Your Eyes then he’ll start work on The Avengers sequel. As he is so busy he’s handed the S.H.I.E.L.D. reins over to his brother Jed and his sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen.
It’s taken four popular TV series (although two were cancelled way too soon) and the big screen success of the first Avengers film to get Hollywood to listen when Joss Whedon speaks. Of course, the fact that Joss managed get Agent Coulson to return from the dead might also have a little something to do with it. We can hardly wait until September 24 to see how Joss did it.
By Michael Smith