Five Firsts Agents Of SHIELD Brought To The MCU

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Agents of SHIELD created a fiery finale to season 4. We had Ghost Rider, Inhumans, and Robots (LMDs) in our storylines – not to mention HYDRA as well as ancient aliens. Now with SHIELD in space (try saying that in an echo-y voice. It sounds pretty cool) we figured we’d count down the other more important firsts Marvel’s flagship television show has brought us.  From the first Asian American superheroines to the very first LGBTQ character in the MCU, here’s our top five list of Agents of SHIELD firsts.

FIRST LGBTQ CHARACTER

While Marvel’s Runaways boasts the first openly lesbian character, the first LGBTQ character has the distinction of being Joey from Agents of SHIELD season 3. He was the focus of the first episode of season 3 – a mechanic with a passion for motorcycles who takes a fish oil pill and becomes an Inhuman. Joey is a member of the Secret Warriors and while he disappeared (actor Juan Pablo Raba left the show to film SIX for the History channel), the Inhuman with the power to melt and control metal could return in season 5 – or end up in any other MCU property for that matter. Check out Joey in the clip below.

The distinction is that Joey’s sexuality isn’t made a major focal point. He’s treated like a normal character, something important as far as representation goes.  Joey and Karolina are both important characters, but Joey has the distinction of being the first gay superhero character and he deserves a spotlight.

FIRST ASIAN AMERICAN HEROES IN SUPERHERO TV…EVER

In a time when white washing controversies run rampant, it’s important to spotlight positive representation and Agents of SHIELD has that in spades.  Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) is a biracial Asian American. Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May is the first Asian superhero on superhero TV and Film (she deserves to be in films).  SHIELD also spotlights Latinx representation with Joey, Elena ‘Yo-Yo’ Rodriguez (played by Natalia Cordova, the first Latinx superheroine), and of course Robbie Reyes played by the amazing Gabriel Luna.  Remember everyone, tell Marvel that #WeWantGhostRider and support the notion of a Ghost Rider Show!

There’s also Henry Simmons as Mack and Parminder Nagra who had a great arc as a corrupt anti-Inhuman senator Ellen Nadeer in Season 4.  While other shows might keep things a bit plain, Agents of SHIELD truly takes pride in spotlighting “The World Outside Our Window”.

STORYTELLING FIRSTS THAT CARRY OVER TO THE MCU AT LARGE

Agents of SHIELD has been a proving ground for projects in the MCU at large since it’s conception.  Everything from the Inhumans to the return of HYDRA has gotten its start on the show. Even with the introduction of the “supernatural” in the MCU, SHIELD has run with.  With the Season 4 finale fresh on everyone’s mind Agents of SHIELD appears to be leaping into the cosmic realm, where there are many new firsts to explore and discover.

The show has it’s own storyline that doesn’t cross over with the films, but the truth is that it doesn’t need to.  It’s enough of a fuse to light the fireworks that make up the MCU and it’s a great way for Marvel to take the big stories we see in 2 hour chunks to a smaller screen.  Clearly the minds behind the show are on the pulse of the nation which makes sense since there’s…

DIVERSITY BEHIND THE CAMERA

Agents of SHIELD has one of the first female Asian American show runners in Maurissa Tancharoen and in season 4 has upped its quota of female writers.  With writers like Nora Zuckerman as well as Tancharoen herself penning scripts, Agents of SHIELD is reflecting the world both onscreen and off.  This clearly pays off with storytelling that focuses on such diverse characters.

It’s also a family affair with Kevin Tancharoen directing multiple episodes.  He’s so good that he’s jumped beyond Agents of SHIELD and directed one of the best episodes of Iron Fist as well as episodes of DCTV’s Supergirl.  All of this talent is important because Agents of SHIELD is also…

FIRST RECENT FEMALE CENTERED MARVEL SUPERHERO SHOW

It’s been awhile since Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman lit up our screens and the short lived (yet amazing) Birds of Prey. Marvel has given us a show full of girl power-and at the time we need it the most.

While the show started with the rebirth of Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), a second starring player has taken the limelight over the past 4 seasons.  From lost loves to gaining super powers, Daisy Johnson has become an iconic character in the MCU.  She’s currently leading her own superhero team of Secret Warriors in the comics that includes fan favorites like Kamala Khan and Lunella Lafayette and she’s a role model to young girls whenever she’s on camera.

Star Chloe Bennet has taken her role as heroine responsibly as well.  Having founded 2 successful represent.com campaigns raising money for women in Haiti, she also speaks out about representation and Asian American rights. While Daisy Johnson is a superhero, Chloe Bennet is a heroine close to home whose work is an inspiration to young girls everywhere.  It’s nice to see a star take their role so seriously.  Her character’s arc and transformation into a superheroine has been the hero’s journey that the show has been based on.

While she’s not the lead, it could very well happen in the future if Bennett sticks around the MCU.  She’s certainly proven she has an on-screen presence to carry the show. She is one of the first recent female superheroines since the resurgence of the superhero genre after Smallville.

As we head into Season 5, It’s important to remember and appreciate the firsts that Agents of SHIELD has given us – along with whatever new firsts they might bring.

Did we miss any firsts? Have any you want to share? Sound off and share with us in the comments below.

Agents of SHIELD returns January 2018 in its new time at 9 PM on Fridays.

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4 Comments

  1. Great article! Big SHIELD fan and Daisy fan, love the milestones the show has made in terms of diversity. But I wanted to be nitpicky and point out that Karolina in Runaways will not actually be the MCU’s first lesbian character. There were three in Jessica Jones: Jeri Hogarth, her wife Wendy, and her secretary Pam.

  2. Just having one asian and one white isn’t really much diversity and not really something to be proud of (TNG Production did a better job n the 80’s – 30 years ago). When you have Native Americans, Blacks and Muslim doing the creative part then you can call it diversity Its something alt right uses when attacking of person of non white heritage ” Oh my is companies not racist I have one asian working there” “Oh i’m not a racist I got black friends”
    Whilst there are some things on the list you can nod your head of achievement, like having eastern asian females as main serious characters and not supporting ones which never happens in TV shows which is a good start for diversity, the show has a lot to do to portray DIVERSITY.

    First showing men in the show being weak . Great to see May kicking ass but as of late its like because its a man he gets butt kick so easily as compared to his female counter part and this trend followed in other female characters like Daisy easily beating up men but very hard when fighting against women. I would like to see tone of this change whoever she beats up its hard.

    But the most disturbing thing that I have seen in all of this is the portrayal of Arab/Pakistani/Iranian South Asian in the show as either villains, terrorist or just plain comic relief as we saw in beginning of season 3 and season 2 like the Sheik hydra agent and Backshee

    Not one time have they portrayed people of that region as the main good guys that hold important roles for upholding SHIELD but rather of evil or idiots in the show. We act like backward idiots to continue this racist trend into 21 century a trend that’s has being going back when Hollywood started literally !
    And yet this writer of the article has the audacity to portray this show as the champion of diversity ?, seriously ?????? by making Arabs / south asians as either terrorists or goons ??
    This reads like Steven Bannon obituary one minute makes bigotry and racist comment and then cover it up by either justifying his remark or goes around saying he not a racist , pulling every stunt possible so the people won’t see it. It’s exactly what this article is doing . I’m sitting there watching this show thinking Is there anything good portraying those people but NONE .
    I would not have said anything about the Hydra south asian /Arab characters if you had shown other Arab/Southasin characters as main SHIELD charcters. BUt to only show as that being goons and terrorist is pure poor taste

    Josh Whedon Maurissa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon I expect better from you and should be ashamed of yourself.

    Edit: No doubt some fools is either going to attack me or justify the racism in the show a typical Bot , and if this gets deleted or not being put then it shows you want to have this problem spread. This is the tool for Trump

    1. Agreed. Whilst normalising people of many backgrounds, as well as all the natural-feeling inter-racial relationships, which is great, it’s notable that the only main South Asian-type character was an evil Nadir. Was hoping her brother would become an important character, so they could start to tick that box, but hey, no one’s perfect. Here’s hoping they change that next season, would be a nice surprise to have a good Arab or something!

  3. It’s also one of the first Superhero shows to accurately represent disabilities. (None of this Arrow bs with Felicity being able to walk again within 10 episodes) Coulson has a prosthetic arm. Bobbi spent a large chunk of 3A in physical therapy. May and Simmons both have PTSD. Fitz’s aphasia was a main story point in S2 and (if you’re astute, you can notice that it still affects him).

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