In 2014, a crack S.H.I.E.L.D. unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem… if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
First off, I know some folks are really iffy on spoilers and to them I tell you to stop reading, as I’m going to bullet point a few about Captain America: Winter Soldier as… it’s all connected. So if you care, or are a secret Hydra agent, please do yourself a favor and stop reading, now.
• To quell the bellyachers, let’s think of The Avengers as Star Wars and Winter Soldier as Empire Strikes Back, the dark, middle chapter of an epic trilogy. Marvel’s playing the long game; Sebastian Stan is signed up for nine films, and Chris Evans only six and he’s done three already (four if you count THOR 2, but I’d hope not). Everyone’s worried what’s going to happen to Tony, but Bucky will be the new Cap within six years. They also turned Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. into the A-Team. which that desperately needed. They also gave the mooted Agent Carter. a clear villain with the Peenemünde Hydra scientists in the ranks. The big achievement of that flick, though, you ask me, is making The Falcon not ridiculous.
• Sam Wilson’s part of the story isn’t that Steve wakes up seventy years later and gets a cell phone and an African-American friend, it’s that Steve and Sam have the same problems fitting in post-war, and they both help each other do so. One of my conservative friends was steamed about the Mall laps scene (Cap should have yelled “on your right!”) but if that was his only issue, that’s a win.
• The “subvert the whole idea of SHIELD” thing for the movies and TV is brilliant, though, post-post 9/11. I get where the small number of critics are coming from with that the whole Everything You’ve Ever Known Is A Lie being a little prosaic as a theme, but I’d argue that’s not the rot from within aspect of the storyline. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Age of Ultron are going to be all That Which Does Not Kill You Makes You Stronger. They just turned milquetoast Everyman Phil Coulson into Captain Ahab, with his white whale being a clean S.H.I.E.L.D. again.
Which brings me to the A-Team reference above, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agent Coulson loves it when a plan comes together