Post by contributor Rachel Noelle Wood
Joss Whedon has grown from a figure of cult popularity to a mainstream hit-maker. Those of us following his career for two decades were joined last Tuesday by millions of new fans eager to see his follow up to The Avengers. The pilot episode introduced us to an ensemble cast of agents working to protect humanity from super-villains and aliens. This marks a significant departure for Whedon as his work usually involves government agencies (human-feeding demon mayors!) and shadowy corporations (apocalypse-bringing pharmaceutical companies!) as the enemy. In this age of drone strikes and NSA spying, a secret, powerful, and seemingly unaccountable organization like S.H.E.I.L.D is a hard sell as “the good guys.”
So far, it seems we're just supposed to buy it based on the sweet smiles of a cast of models. With the exception of the older characters, most of the crew has looks and acting abilities better suited to a toothpaste commercial. There's Skye, a hacker girl whose one emotion is “sassy,” a team of fast talking “genuis scientists” who come off as chirpy, attractive nitwits incapable of coherent sentences, and a Ken-doll-esque super-spy who is so dull that he will be referred to in this article as “Bland Guy.” And the cringing doesn't stop there: the early action sequences were cheesy and gimmicky, and we were treated to not one but TWO moralistic good guy speeches.
If anyone else had made this show, I would have already turned the TV off and hidden the remote. But after more than a decade of following Joss Whedon, here's why I'm holding out hope.