Whedon’s Themes: A Blueprint for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

In response to the news that Joss Whedon is helming a new show, all I can say is: it’s about gorram time.

But what can we expect from further explorations of the world finally cemented in The Avengers?  I posit we can make an educated guess based on Whedon’s recurring themes.

scoobyOne theme Whedon always includes is the theme of family; specifically, the creation of a family unit as a group of individuals are brought together by outside circumstances.  Most of these units stay together for the duration of the show’s run.

For example: Firefly began with a crew of four and a few mysterious passengers, but quickly evolved into a familial dynamic.  Throughout the show, we see the group pull together under extreme duress, sacrificing almost everything for each other.

This theme of family is also evident in Angel and Dollhouse: Angel runs a supernatural detective agency comprised of Gunn, Cordelia, Wesley and Fred, while Echo creates her group by befriending Viktor and Sierra as well as joining forces with an FBI agent and staff from the Dollhouse.  [While Buffy also explored this theme, it had more of a revolving door, with Angel, Cordelia, Spike, Wesley, Oz, Tara, Dawn filling roles others had abdicated]

Film Title: Serenity.The second theme that keeps popping up is that of identity or purpose, often showcased by a strong female character such as Buffy, River, or Echo.  I’m sure we all remember Joss addressing the fact that reporters repeatedly ask him a variation of the question, “Why do you write strong female characters?”  He replied in a speech for Equality Now, “Because you’re still asking me that question.”

The third theme is anti-authoritarianism, which Whedon has dealt with in almost all his work, including his films.  Most often, this theme is tied to a secretive corporate or government agency, such as The Initiative, The Alliance, and the Rossum Corporation.  All of these groups are “up to something”, something our heroes and heroines must stop before the world is destroyed.

Echo must take down the Rossum Corporation by infiltrating the agency at its highest level, Buffy must disable the Initiative’s deadly science project, and although we never got to see the entire story, The Alliance and its dark secret is enough to give one the chills.

What, then, does this mean for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?  I think this show is tailor-made for someone like Joss; half the framework is already there.  We have the covert government agency — already treading dubious moral ground — and a team of agents that appear to be the perfect start to creating a family unit.

shieldIt’s possible we’ll see the new agent, Skye, as the tough female character trying to discover her purpose while at S.H.I.E.L.D.  Agent Phil Coulson might pull the team together during their various cases, and I’m interested to see if these agents turn on S.H.I.E.L.D. (as characters in both Angel and Dollhouse have done), or if, perhaps, they’ll join the Avengers under Nick Fury or even form their own league to fight evil.

So there you have it: my predictions for what we’ll be seeing in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  This, however, is just a blueprint, an outline.  While we can guess as to the structure of such a show, I think we’ll likely be surprised at some of the things Whedon pulls out of his writing toolbox, now that he has the support of Marvel behind him and a bigger budget to use.

No matter what the show actually is, I think what we’ll really be seeing from Joss is what he’s best at: creating another universe for us to visit every week.

Welcome back to TV, Joss.  We missed you.

K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone is a story nerd, particularly for the episodic stories told via the medium of television. When not parked in front of the TV, K.M. Cone can be found writing kooky urban fantasy on her personal site, attempting to learn German, or making a huge pot of soup for her friends, who are probably coming over to join her in her latest TV or animated film obsession.
K.M. Cone

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