5 Things: What to Expect from Joss Whedon for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

“5 Things” is a weekly column in which a writer, group of writers, or contributors may offer 5 facts or opinions related to all things television. We invite you to contribute your thoughts by submitting your own “5 Things” or leaving comment. Check out our 5 Things: What You Should Know About the Marvel Universe Before Watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. sister post to this one. 

1. He is The Master Showrunner and once you start his work, you’ll become addicted – Associate Editor, Blaire Knight-Graves (@blairelovestv)

Let’s face it, once you’ve watched some Whedon you’ve probably watched all of Whedon. For me, it started with Buffy, but with many it starts with Firefly. No matter where you start, when you get bitten by the Whedonverse bug you’re almost certainly infected… for life. Most of his shows had an untimely end of cancellation, although Buffy ended almost exactly where it needed to. In any event, be prepared to become addicted to anything this showrunner creates, because he can do no wrong… Well, except for Dollhouse, but I can forgive him for that.

Here’s a quick list of Whedon’s most important televised endeavors that you should binge watch before Tuesday, September 23rd if you’ve never seen any of his works:

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  2. Angel
  3. Firefly
  4. Dollhouse
  5. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long-Blog


2. His fans are… well… Devoted. – Staff Writer, Meg Haas (@meggh11)

One thing that you should know about Joss Whedon is that he has an incredible fan base dating back to the ill-fated loss of a certain sci-fi show, Firefly. This short lived series gained followers which devotedly followed Whedon, and the actors, from job to job. His fans are loyal, massive, and powerful. They support him. They support his actors. They support his shows. So, in the off chance that this show fails completely and makes the viewers change the channel to some other new fall pilot, know that before you critique this man, you might want to watch your online persona. You might be blacklisted and put on a list. That list might make it into the hands of someone more powerful than you and that person might show it to someone. That someone might take it to Joss Whedon himself, and knowing this man from afar, he might find a way to ridicule you for the rest of your online existence. And let’s face it you probably deserve it. If that doesn’t happen, his fans will do it for you. And if this happens you might prefer Whedon to his army of avid television viewers. So, watch S.H.E.I.L.D. Enjoy it. And if you don’t, keep quiet. Otherwise tumblr might combine to form a written, forceful army that will make you wish you were back in high school with a simple myspace account.


3. He writes kick-ass female characters – Guest Contributer, Sophia Matthias-Porter 

Buffy Summers. Natasha Romanov. Zoë Washburne. Need I say more?

Yes. Of course I do. Because while these women are the epitome of badassery, they are only three of the many that Joss has created. And not all the women he has written are the typical “fighter chick”. In fact, probably the best thing about his female characters is how many of them are different and fight the trope-y stereotypes. Take River Tam, the psychotic genius who can shoot someone point-blank with her eyes closed and also has Bruce Lee like kung-fu skills (played by Summer Glau on Firefly and in Serenity), or Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), the preppy queen bee of Sunnydale High (Buffy), turned vampire hunter, turned demi-god (Angel). But my personal favorite has to be Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin), a high-society courtesan or “companion”, who is considered part of the social elite in the Firefly universe. Fun fact: She chooses her clientele. I mean, come on!

So, where does this need to create actual, relatable female characters come from, you might ask? Joss credits his mother, Lee Stearns, for the many elements of feminism in his body of work. He can write women of all ages, from sarcastic adolescents, to wise-cracking middle aged women, to creepy old crones (here’s looking at you Wig Lady, who sometimes haunts my dreams), and when asked why, he replied “If you met my mom, you wouldn’t ask”.

The only question now is what to expect from Agents of SHIELD. But, with three actresses already cast in main roles, I know he won’t disappoint. In fact, he’s probably just getting started. And we’re all in for a wild ride.

Here is his speech from Equality Now (it’s awesome):



4. Expect lots of DEATH – Staff Writer, Ricky Diaz (@rickyjdiaz)

In the first episode of Buffy, Joss Wheon had a character called Jesse McNally, originally Joss wanted Jesse to be part of the opening credits, Joss always knew that Jesse was going to die off in the first episode, but he wanted it to be a surprise, and having him part of the opening credits would lull you into a false sense of security. This is something that Joss has always done in nearly all of his works, killing off people, usually fan favorites, whether it be quick and something which is moved past quickly – re: Anya/Wash. Something which we have to stew in – re: Joyce Summers, or something slow and agonizing – re: Fred.

Sometimes Joss’ deaths are negated by him bringing them back to life, whether it be as someone else  – re:Fred/Illyria, or sometimes they are just changed by the experience – re: Buffy. Either way, their deaths have purpose, it drives the narrative forward… it doesn’t make it any less heart wrenching when he does it, but there is a method to his madness.

Its something that everyone has dealt with in real life at one point, and is something that we all have to deal with eventually, and Joss knows that, and knows that in order for his work to be realistic – even in the unrealistic worlds he creates – its something that brings his show back to reality.

So, with SHIELD, don’t get too attached to the characters, cause you know, by the end of the series, more than likely, one of them will be dead, and your heart will be broken. Although, as you know, its already happened in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Agent Coulson, and he’s back… I’m sure his “rebirth” will be something touched upon during the course of the season.


5. In addition to killing his characters, Joss has a thing for bringing them back to life.  –  Staff Writer, Shana Lieberman (@evilapprentice)

This would be great, except for the part where their return to the world of the living is often awful, and they have a tendency to come back wrong.  Let’s take a walk down memory lane!

After Buffy killed Angel in season two’s finale, “Becoming, Part 2,” she (understandably) had a hard time coping.  Right when it seemed like our favorite slayer might be ready to move on, Angel came back…or did he?  Buffy had to give up her shot at a “normal” relationship, wonder whether Angel’s unexplained return was the cause of numerous brutal deaths, sit patiently by his side and just HOPE for him to be himself again instead of whatever animalistic thing he’d come back as, talk him down from killing himself just before Christmas, and then ultimately lose him again after all of that.  Even though Angel spent an unknown amount of time in a hell dimension, he was still cursed with the whole “no true happiness or you turn evil” thing.  There would be no happy ending for Buffy and Angel.

Poor Buffy died twice but came back to life both times herself.  The second resurrection was by far the worst.  After Buffy sacrificed herself to save the world in season five, she was finally at peace.  Did she get to stay in heaven?  Nope.  Her friends selfishly used magic to bring her back to life, and the poor girl thought she was in hell when she came back to our world.  She spent most of season six reeling from this tragic turn of events and trying to hide it from her friends, only for the big reveal to come in “Once More, With Feeling.”  Awful.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn’t the only show where Joss brought beloved characters back from the dead in great and terrible ways, though.  On Angel, vampire Darla was given another shot at human life by Wolfram & Hart.  This wasn’t about redemption or anything like that but was simply an evil plot by an evil firm to mess with Angel a bit.  And how awful was Darla’s second chance at life?  Well, let’s see:  Darla made her a vampire (again).  Then, to save her unborn child, she had to sacrifice herself via a stake to the heart in one of Angel’s most emotional moments.  Throughout this entire storyline, we learned that Darla’s original human life wasn’t exactly pretty either.  THANKS, JOSS.

In another awful death-turned-rebirth that wasn’t quite right, Joss felt it necessary to kill Paul Ballard in the series finale of Dollhouse.  Instead of leaving him dead, he decided he was going to “resurrect” him by putting his backup in Echo’s head, so they could always be together.  Because, you know, constantly having the man that she loved in her head was totally therapeutic for Echo.  Let’s not talk about what that whole dream sequence when Ballard’s download was complete did to my feels either.


Spoiler alert.  Don’t read any further if you haven’t seen a single promo for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and don’t want to be spoiled.  You’ve been warned.

Joss is up to no good with his death cheating ways once again.  Agent Coulson’s death in The Avengers was a big emotional moment and gave our beloved superheroes something to band together to actually, well, avenge.  But what has Joss done?  He’s brought Coulson back.  Mysteriously.  I suppose it’s going to be like how we never quite learned how and why Angel came back to our world.  I also imagine it’s going to be painful in some way or another because it’s Joss, and Joss loves to bring on the pain, especially when he’s already given you a terrible death.

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1 comment

  1. Excellent article! Thanks so much!

    Tuesday, we all get access to #Level7



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