Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Some characters' stories aren't over just yet. (Illustration by Elizabeth Wong, University of Rhode Island)

The Send-Off to ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Doesn’t Have To Be the End

The show may be over, but perhaps this offers the perfect opportunity to insert the characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The show may be over, but perhaps this offers the perfect opportunity to insert the characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

On Aug. 12, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” aired its series finale on ABC. It was an action-packed ending that concluded the seven-season Marvel show. The final season paid homage to past villains and allies as well as sent its main crew to happy endings of their own design. Yet, what the finale most definitely proved was how it should have a place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The finale was a two-parter. The team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents raced against time to defeat the Chronicoms and stop them from invading the Earth. It was a fight to maintain the existence of the spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D. and return to their original timeline. The threat retreated relatively early in the second part of the finale; the rest of the show’s final hour was spent on a holographic reunion of the core team members, one year later.

All of them had moved on to new phases in their lives. Some retired, some embarked on a new galactic adventure and others drifted into the welcome unknown. Mack (Henry Simmons) remained as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhuman speedster Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) continued as a field agent. Leopold Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) are happily retired with their daughter, Alya. Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) has begun a galactic mission alongside her boyfriend, Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), and Kora (Dianne Doan), her sister. Melinda May (Ming Na Wen) is a teacher at the newfound Coulson Academy and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) found a new life as an android, seeing what the rest of the world can offer.

It was a calm, happy ending to a show that faced many tribulations throughout its run. “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” first premiered in 2013. The show followed the journey of Phil Coulson and his team of highly skilled S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Admittedly, however, the series got off to a rough start.

The first season seemingly had no real direction. The continued lack of narrative for the majority of that season’s run affected the show’s ratings and interest. It wasn’t until a major twist near the end of the first season and the inclusion of HYDRA that the show hit its stride. “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” proved that it could stand on its own and that its characters were worthy of a broader (preferably, cinematic) audience.

It deviated from its “monster of the week” formula and turned toward serialized storytelling. The world became broader and its characters became fascinatingly complex — two of my favorites in the show being Daisy Johnson and Leopold Fitz.

Leopold Fitz underwent one of the most interesting character transformations in the entire show. Receiving a brain injury from being thrown into the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, he endured traumas, heartbreak and paranoia over losing himself to the darkness inside him. Repeatedly, he suffered pain as well as caused it. What was so incredible about his transformation was how smoothly it was executed. A large part of that is due to the phenomenal performance of Iain de Caestecker. His acting gave Leopold Fitz a depth that eventually made him unrecognizable from the naive engineer viewers were introduced to in the first season. 

While most of Fitz’s transformation was mental, Daisy Johnson’s was also physical. She was introduced as “Skye,” a hacker activist on a quest to find her parents. She turned from a fledgling agent into an intelligent, powerful superhero named Quake. Her superhero status arrived soon after Johnson discovered that she was an Inhuman, someone granted abilities through alien genes flowing through their veins. Her journey after was learning to accept her powers as well as herself.

Evolution defines Daisy Johnson’s character. She turned from “Skye” to “Daisy Johnson” after she accepted her powers, left S.H.I.E.L.D. behind after enduring the loss of her boyfriend and her parents, and eventually became the Earth-shattering superhero Quake. What makes her character so aspirational is her relatability. Oftentimes, she’s impulsive and can be frighteningly self-sacrificial. Sometimes, she denies who she is meant to be, and at certain points, she abandons her friends and internalizes her traumas. That lack of perfection in a superhero draws viewers to her character. One of the best parts of watching “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is watching the loner Skye become one of the most complex female superheroes in the Marvel Universe.

The last image viewers have of Daisy Johnson in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is her embarking into space with her boyfriend, Daniel Sousa, and her sister, Kora. She’s adrift in the unknown currently, but her journey does not have to end there. I believe she should finally become a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

A major grievance with the MCU is its lack of representation. It took nearly a decade for a person of color to lead a film and even more for a woman. Frankly, the diversity within its ranks is barely there at all. But, where the MCU has failed in that aspect, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” thrived. Its cast consists of diverse characters that have all developed beautifully. The women in the show are not in constant competition; they support each other through all of their struggles. The men are allowed to be emotional and delicate and are not confined to stereotypical depictions of manhood. Daisy Johnson, its main character, is a woman of color who becomes a powerful superhero.

If only one person from “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” has a chance of entering the MCU, it should be her. The past seven years have already told her origin story; she is a character beloved by those who followed her each step of the way.

The impending introduction of S.W.O.R.D. in the MCU could be where Daisy Johnson comes in. Her mission in space was never specified, though she did mention at the team’s reunion that Daniel Sousa had dubbed them the “Astro Ambassadors.” Perhaps she is on one of S.W.O.R.D.’s first voyages into space, or could be enlisted by Nick Fury in the future. If not S.W.O.R.D., then bring her on as an Avenger. Her seismic abilities have already proven her worthy of joining the superhero team. There is still the possibility of including her in the MCU — whether as an Avenger or as an agent of S.W.O.R.D.

If she or the rest of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. never make it into the MCU, it would be disappointing, but not a tragedy. The show has proven that it can stand on its own without cinematic recognition. Each of the characters have finished their journeys and are continuing on in their lives. But, if there was ever a chance for them to join the cinematic side of things, I firmly believe that Marvel should take it.

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