Avengers spinoff to premiere tomorrow

TV premiere season has begun, and on Tuesday night comes one of the season’s most anticipated pilots: ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

To be clear, this isn’t The Avengers. This is the team that finds the superheroes, sorting through the weird to find the spectacular.

The ensemble features Melinda May, a seasoned field agent portrayed by Mulan voice actor Ming-Na Wen; newly recruited Grant Ward (Brett Dalton); hacker-turned-team-member Skye (Chloe Bennet); and Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons (Ian De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge), a tag team of a tech genius and a biochemist. Together the team is the face of a new initiative formed by Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) following the events in The Avengers. Their job is to find and keep tabs on emerging superheroes and otherworldly events, so that S.H.I.E.L.D. — the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division — can have a better handle on superhuman events and threats.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a continuation of The Avengers’ universe; currently, there are no plans to feature any of Marvel’s big-name superheroes, such as Iron Man or Thor, in any storylines. Executive producer Joss Whedon revealed at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Press Tour panel that the show is not intended to be “an Easter egg farm” for the Marvel universe. The show will be able to stand on its own, instead of constantly referring back to the past Marvel films.

Whedon is no stranger to TV shows, having produced such classics as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the short-lived Firefly. Most recently, Whedon wrote and directed The Avengers and adapted William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to the silver screen. Unfortunately for the show, he is also working on the sequel to The Avengers, which could reduce the amount of time he spends on Agents.

The show’s format will be serial in style, like its time slot competitor, CBS crime drama NCIS, but will feature a continuous storyline to bring the season together. TvLine.com reported that Avengers veteran Cobie Smulders, reprising her role as Agent Maria Hill in the pilot, will be the one to plant the seeds for the overarching mystery. Although currently her appearance has only been confirmed for the first episode — a surprise kept secret until the closed screening of the pilot at this summer’s San Diego Comic-Con — perhaps viewers will get to see more from Agent Hill after Smulders finishes as Robin Scherbatsky in the final season of How I Met Your Mother.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Agent Coulson was last seen in his death scene in The Avengers, but he’s back to head this new team as they head out on cases. For those confused about his resurrection, don’t worry — that story will come out. Whedon revealed at the panel that it will be “something of a drawn-out explanation.”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres tomorrow at 8 p.m. EST.