Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." premiered last night to some surprisingly mixed reviews regarding the pilot episode. Of course, various shows take time to find their footing.
Showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen sat down with The Live Feed today to talk about the format of further episodes, story arcs, what Marvel villains could make an appearance, and one specific rule - the show can never use the word "mutant".
In regards to mixing stand alone episodic cases with season-long serialised storylines:
Whedon: This isn't about the case of the week. It's about our people being the case of the week and we're going to take them on adventures and have cool gadgets. We're going to have monsters of the week and challenges, but we think it's about our people more than the case, solving the mystery and the clue.
Tancharoen: The cases will have a beginning, middle and end, but we are focused on the serialized nature of our characters and there will be mythology woven throughout the season with little bits and pieces.
Whedon: There's a spy aspect of the show and SHIELD is some of the most sci-fi in the Marvel universe because it's about gadgets. So we have a lot of different things to play with. It will be a mixture of both. We will be focusing on having every story having a beginning, middle and end, but some of it will be mythology and some of it will standalone. And our character runs will continue through all of that.
The most interesting quote of the whole article is Whedon's response when asked what characters from Marvel's shared live-action universe they are allowed to use in the series:
"There's a database that's tailored to our show with the properties we can use as well as the properties that are owned by other studios and things that are flagged for major franchises. There are certain areas we can't go because we don't want to step on the toes of the movies.
We've had free reign. There are certain rules in terms of the Marvel brand. Marvel is very focused on being grounded – and it is our world with the one twist that they're superheroes. There's no Metropolis, there's no Gotham. It's New York City and Chicago, and in the cinematic universe the process of powers is pretty young.
They say it's only been a couple years since Iron Man in terms of our timeline in the universe. So the idea in our world that powers exist is new to the population and SHIELD's job description. It used to be keeping those things secret and that has now changed, so we're dealing with some of that."
Then of course there's the talk of feature film crossover elements, from character appearances to storylines that weave around the films:
Tancharoen: We're open to those opportunities, but we just don't want to set that precedent. We don't want that to be an expectation that somebody is always going to show up. We want our show to exist on our own. But the opportunity for synergy is always welcome.
Whedon: We're in contact with the features people, and we're hoping to tie in with storylines since we have stuff in their films and play with the fallout of their films. But we are focused on establishing ourselves as our own franchise and getting people to fall in love with our characters instead of just wondering when Iron Man is going to fly in.