So I got into conversation on social media, as one is want to do, with some disappointment that SHIELD have seemed too much like the bad guys. Devin Feraci wrote a big piece here, saying,
The SHIELD on this show remains a bunch of assholes, assholes who do things like wipe Skye’s dad’s mind (he’s the evil Mr. Hyde, and when he transformed in the season finale it was 100% a lowlight of superhero television) and then set him up as a vet in a big city. Let’s leave behind the idea that letting a murderer set up shop in a metropolis is a bad idea – how can they be wiping people’s minds? That is so fucked up, and Skye thanks Coulson for it. I felt like I had fallen through the looking glass here. Hopefully next season someone addresses the profound evil of what they did.
But on top of that, Coulson’s whole gig now is keeping Inhumans secret and monitored. He’s basically a human Sentinel. This is the hero of my show? A guy whose job is to keep a minority group down? The show’s moral for minority groups is “Why don’t you try passing for white/straight/cis instead of being yourself?” I was honestly stunned that in one scene this is where Agents of SHIELD went – they’re mindwiping criminals AND they’re covering up Inhumans. Those are both the actions of a bad guy group.
So, SHIELD are the bad guys. Yes that’s right. But somehow this is new? Let’s lay it out…
It is SHIELD’s experimentation with the Tesseract that lets Loki and the Chitauri through to enslave Earth from Thor. And if Nick Fury had succeeded in shooting down both fighter jets, that is exactly what happened.
It is SHIELD’s existence at the highest level across the world that allows Hydra to grow so much in power and, basically, put the Nazis in charge of the world, spying on everyone and killing those it doesn’t like, using SHIELD technology,
Even when SHIELD is completely closed down and all its secrets exposed, it still manages to reform as two separate organisations and keep a Helicarrier in the basement.
It is a SHIELD operation against Baron Strucker, with the Avengers, that ends up unleashing Ultron on the world.
It is SHIELD that lets, nay encourages, Tony Stark to be a part of their group, their Consultant, despite all but destroying the world in Age Of Ultron, and then letting him just walk away free. No one even thinks to even debrief him or anything.
As for Nick Fury, if he has succeeded in shooting down those planes in Avengers Assemble, the alien invasion would have occurred without nuclear interruption.
Basically the world would be a better place without SHIELD.
And suddenly having them watching over every Inhuman is a step too far? They are the bad guys. They may be good people, trying to do good things from their own perspective, but then so have many tyrants.
This isn’t a strange thing for the comics, of coure, Repeatedly over the decades the structures of SHIELD, or similar, have been stripped away for this kind of overreach. Indeed, that’s what the Civil War comic book was about.
Maybe that’s what Captain America; Civil War will also be about as well?
What Marvel have been expert at doing in the comics at least is having your cake and eating it. Civil War was a debate allowing those with differing opinions to pick a side. X-Men’s Schism did the same, you were able to find a group who reflected your beliefs regarding the balance of security or liberty, and then equally have those beliefs challenged by the other group. And getting a different experience out of it. The X-Men comic is still full of SHIELD Vs. X-Men for a reason.
But if you are troubled by the actions of SHIELD at the end of the second season – where were you for the rest of the MCU?
There have been similar arguments about the likes of Judge Dredd and The Authority, the creators of whom had stated that they were the bad guys, even if elements of the readership disagreed. But years before Warren Ellis would write the latter series, he would pen an introduction to the DC Comics collection of Hellblazer: Fear And Loathing, saying of Constantine,
“What’s John protecting these things from? Authority, With the capital A. These are stories about what authority does to people, about the poison in its foundations. You can substiute Authority for Government, for the Establishment, even for God, and it all means the same thing, someone exerting control they did not earn and do not deserve, grinding lives into shit because they feel like it.”
That’s from 1996. Twenty years later, that’s the story Marvel is telling. It’s just that some people, it seems, are slowly starting to realise it.
Also, you know, they carry guns. For us Brits, that’s always been the deciding factor.
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