Marvel Studios has enjoyed an unprecedented level of success at the box office with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, their record with translating their comic characters to the television screens hasn’t been the same.
As we approach the premiere of the second season of Loki, one of the few hit shows from Marvel, it’s only apt to turn back the clock and look at how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – the first television series of the MCU unfolded.
The show, which premiered in 2013, revolved around Agent Phil Coulson and his team of highly skilled agents from the global law-enforcement organization, known as S.H.I.E.L.D. It ran for seven seasons and remains the most successful and longest-running program under the MCU umbrella. Turns out, during the early stages of the show, Marvel President Kevin Feige had seemingly very disruptive plans for the star agency.
What Kevin Feige Told Joss Whedon About Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Series’ Fate
Joss Whedon‘s reputation grew tenfold after he brilliantly directed The Avengers in 2012. The movie followed Nick Fury and the spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D’s recruitment of superheroes like Tony Stark and Steve Rogers to form a team capable of thwarting Loki’s plans.
The Avengers was a blockbuster, grossing more than $1.5 billion at the box office, and opening plenty of doors for Whedon to more or less do whatever he wanted, creatively. He decided to get involved in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. alongside his brother Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen.
However, before Whedon even got on his director’s chair for the pilot of the show, he received a warning from Kevin Feige regarding the bleak future of S.H.I.E.L.D. Feige recalled the interaction (via BuzzFeed News):
“They had said early on, ‘Hey, we’re thinking about doing this show about the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ And Joss said, ‘I think I might do this.’ I said, ‘That’s cool. God bless you. But you should know that we’re destroying S.H.I.E.L.D. in ‘Winter Soldier.’ You guys do whatever you want. But know that that’s what we’re going to do.'”
As Feige suggested, Chris Evans’ Captain America: The Winter Soldier covered the destruction of the agency after it came to light that the terrorist group Hydra had infiltrated it. While things worked well on the big screen – with the movie grossing $714 million at the box office – it impacted the show, forcing creators to navigate the following storyline keeping the movie-inspired catastrophic turn of events in mind.
Why Joss Whedon Had to Shift His Focus Away From Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The creators of the series dealt well with the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but Whedon wasn’t able to give his full attention to his much-loved team of world-saving agents for long.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. never stood any chance in front of money-printing Marvel movies, and the 59-year-old was told to focus on Avengers: Age of Ultron. He explained (via BuzzFeed News):
“They didn’t actually want me to make it. It’s like, ‘Uh, Joss, we really wanted you to do [Age of Ultron]. Instead you created a TV show, you moron.’ ‘I thought you wanted me to!’ ‘No, we just wanted you to make a movie.’ ‘Oh. My bad.’ … It went from being absolutely 100% the driving force and totally hands-on to ‘That sounds great, Jed! You should do that!'”
Whedon-directed Avengers: Age of Ultron turned out to be another box office success, managing $1.403 billion worldwide. Meanwhile, the MCU’s first television series progressively lost its charm.