“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” is only a day away from its premiere. The pilot is set up in a way that the uninitiated viewer can easily walk into the show without any background knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and have a very enjoyable experience. But to have a truly informed viewing of the new ABC drama’s first episode, it’s advised to at least watch a few of Marvel’s movies to have a basic understanding of what SHIELD is as an organization.
SHIELD, or the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, is an espionage and law-enforcement agency used to maintain the superhuman threats in the Marvel universe. Its most recognizable figures are Clark Gregg‘s Agent Phil Coulson and Samuel L. Jackson‘s Agent Nick Fury, as well as Cobie Smulders‘ Maria Hill, Scarlett Johansson‘s Natasha Romanoff, Jeremy Renner‘s Clint Barton and Maximiliano Hernandez‘s Jasper Sitwell. Since Coulson is at the center of “Agents of SHIELD,” it seems fair to suggest that viewers get acquainted with his journey leading up to his small screen debut.
1. “Iron Man”: SHIELD was first introduced through Agent Coulson in the first MCU film, “Iron Man.” Coulson followed Tony Stark around to try to get to the bottom of his mysterious reappearance after his captivity in Afghanistan. His role helped establish SHIELD’s presence in the Marvel films, and paved the way for the introduction of Nick Fury in the post-credits scene.
2. “Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant”: Released on the “Thor” Blu-ray, the first “Marvel One-Shot” — a short film called “The Consultant” — showed Coulson trying to contain the Bruce Banner situation from “The Incredible Hulk.” The video explained why Tony Stark appeared at the end of that film in attempt to win over Banner to SHIELD.
3. “Iron Man 2”: Coulson had a bigger and bolder presence in “Iron Man 2” after he was assigned by Nick Fury to supervise Tony Stark. SHIELD’s role in the MCU became clearer in this film as agent Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) was introduced and the organization’s massive network of agents were revealed. After all, it is some agents like those who will be the focus of the “SHIELD” TV series.
4. “Marvel One-Shot: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer”: “Iron Man 2” ends with the reveal that Coulson has found Thor’s hammer, a perfect tie-in to the next film “Thor.” But another “One-Shot” was released that detailed Coulson’s adventures on the way to the New Mexico crater. The short perfectly detailed how awesome Coulson is as a character.
5. “Thor”: Coulson had a huge role in “Thor” as he was the man who interrogated Thor after the Asgardian prince fell to Earth. Fans got to meet more SHIELD agents — including Jasper Sitwell and Clint Barton (Hawkeye) — and got a sense that SHIELD dabbles in more than just Tony Stark’s affairs.
6. “The Avengers”: If you only have time to watch one Marvel movie before “Agents of SHIELD” premieres, make sure it’s this one. Coulson remained a big part of “The Avengers,” and ended up being killed by Loki partway through the film. It’s that death that spurred The Avengers to come together as a team and defeat Loki and the Chitauri invasion. Coulson’s death is a big part of “Agents of SHIELD’s” pilot, and the mystery of how he is suddenly alive again looks to be a major plot line in Season 1.
7. “Iron Man 3”: Though Coulson didn’t have a presence in “Iron Man 3,” the Extremis plot that was a big part of the film does play into the events of “Agents of SHIELD’s” pilot — and likely entire first season. It is also the most recent Marvel movie, so it’s a good way for viewers to see the current state of the world in the MCU.
“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” premieres on Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. on ABC. Will you be tuning in?