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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Shielding you from POC

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. : ABC
I am the self-acknowledged comic groupie of our blog. I will admit it. I will be, if not at the midnight premiere of a comic/graphic novel movie, I hit opening weekend. I am in awe of the whole Marvel universe movie-wise right now, because of the huge amount of planning they are putting into everything. I call Loki my imaginary boyfriend. So I was really, really excited for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to premiere because I was really pissed about Agent Coulson’s death in The Avengers. The fact that Whedon brought him back made up for it a bit. Yet, as the series goes on, I’m finding myself questioning more and more about whether I want to continue on with the series.
The pilot was everything fans could dream of- action, snappy dialogue, intrigue, hidden bad guys, unknown superheroes, and Coulson coming back to life. There’s the Rising Tide, new characters that we don’t know, and a peak into S.H.I.E.L.D. that we got glimpses of during The Avengers. It’s no wonder that it blew ratings out of the water, with live viewers and taped.

Yet as the weeks continue, ratings are declining. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been picked up for the season, and we know that producers Joss Whedon and others have said that there will be tie-ins with the Marvel movies (already from the pilot we have a tie-in with extremis from Iron Man 3 and references to the invasion in New York from The Avengers, so it’s only logical that in November and April we’ll have tie-ins from Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier), but there’s things that are missing.

Everyone has their own points- there’s not enough action, there’s not the snappy dialogue, there’s not enough love interest. And when are we going to find out what actually happened to Agent Coulson? And I get that- everyone has their own expectations when it comes to things. However, I have a huge issue with S.H.I.E.L.D., and it is none of those.

Where are the people of color? Yes, there’s Maggie May (played wonderfully by Ming-Na Wen), but there couldn’t have been anyone else on the “bus” in a color other than white? Agent Coulson is obviously locked in, but there’s no reason that Skye, Agent Ward, Fitz or Simmons could not have been cast as a person of color. Having strong POC as scientists or field agents or hackers would be wonderful for our youth, and add a diversity to a universe that so far is almost completely whitewashed (save for Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, who can do no wrong- even in xXx: State of the Union).

Actually, if you want to take it further, like a lot of television shows, S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to be marginalizing POC when it should be placing them in prominent spots. I could care less about Skye’s whining and obvious attraction with Agent Ward (there seems to be NO chemistry between the two), but what happened with Mike Peterson, the superhero from the pilot who was exposed to extremis? Yes, he was taken off it and “cured”, but we never see him again; I was hoping HE would join the team somehow.  Compelling actor of color, and used once and then gone. 

Episode two: “0-8-4”, we get Camilla, a former flame of Agent Coulson, who turns out to be a bad guy. Takes over the bus, and yes, gets everyone to act like a team, but she’s the bad guy, and gone again.

Episode three: In “The Asset” not even the bad guys were people of color. There’s no reason that Dr. Hall, Fitz/Simmons’ mentor couldn’t have been some awesome professor that wasn’t bloody ENGLISH. 

Episode four: “Eye Spy” has another POC as the titular “bad person”, this time with actress Pascale Armand playing a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and former protege of Agent Coulson having been turned by a nameless organization against her will. Coulson and the others save her in the end, but she faces trial for what she did while under the direction of her captors, so it’s doubtful at best if we see her again. 

There is no reason why there can’t be more people of color “on the bus” in Agent Coulson’s terms. It’s a complete casting call, and a wasted opportunity. This could be pushing the boundaries of what is on television, and again we’re given the safe options. 

I’m tired of safe. I don’t need to be shielded. Give me diversity that reflects real life.


  1. Anonymous says:

    I completely agree. I'm only up to episode 5 but there is a disturbing trend each week where the only people of colour on the show are morally ambiguous at best, enemies of shield at worst. I also had hopes that mike peterson would become part of the team. Might stop watching after this week.Thanks for your post

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