With Marvel’s Agent Carter wrapping up it’s second season last Tuesday, the next installment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is introduced tomorrow night, as the mid-season premiere for Season 3 of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on ABC. Just a week and a half before Netflix releases Season 2 of the very dark Marvel’s Daredevil, the team that is more directly linked to the monstrous Avengers franchise starts again on the network affiliated with Disney.
— Agents of SHIELD (@AgentsofSHIELD) March 7, 2016
If you aren’t well-versed in the world that includes Iron Man, Captain America, and the Incredible Hulk — or you just need a little refresher — what follows will catch you up to speed in time for the show’s return on Tuesday night.
SHIELD in the movies
If you know nothing at all about S.H.I.E.L.D. or the MCU, it may be easiest to think of the SHIELD team as something like the FBI or CIA that deals directly with issues of national security involving Inhumans. They manage all of the threats that pop up in between the Avengers films.
The television show is centered around the team lead by Phil Coulson, who appears in Iron Man representing SHIELD. Nick Fury, head of SHIELD, talks to Tony Stark after the credits about joining the Avengers. While SHIELD is briefly mentioned in The Incredible Hulk, Coulson, Fury, and Black Widow appeared in Iron Man 2, mostly to keep tabs on Stark. In this film, we learn that Tony’s dad Howard Stark was a founding member of SHIELD.
In Thor, the SHIELD team is tasked with watching over the spot where the titular character’s hammer had landed. When Captain America awakes from his slumber in The First Avenger, it is Nick Fury and some SHIELD agents that first meet with him. The SHIELD team plays a big role in The Avengers, as much of the movie takes place on their Helicarrier.
Finally, in The Winter Soldier, S.H.I.E.L.D. is explored in greater detail. With Captain America as an agent, we learn more about the agency’s origins and it’s relationship to Hydra. S.H.I.E.L.D. seemingly falls apart at the end of the movie after Coulson’s death, setting things up for the premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. later that year.
The series focuses at first on the reestablishment of S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson, believed to be dead at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, looks for answers about his apparent resurrection. The season-long story arch centers around Hydra’s “Project Centipede” (an attempt to build an army of super-soldiers) and its leader the Clairvoyant. Additional Hydra operatives are weeded out of the group throughout the season. By the end of the season, the Project Centipede threat was neutralized and Coulson was named the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Age of Ultron
The disbandment of the SHIELD team at the end of The Winter Soldier is acknowledged in Age of Ultron. After some reminders in the movie about why the organization is essential, Season 2 was ready for ABC a few months later.
In the sophomore season, we are introduced to Afterlife, a refuge for Inhumans now that the world is fully aware that they exist. Skye is introduced to her parents and has to make a choice about who to side with (she chooses the SHIELD team). In a story vaguely reminiscent of Professor Xavier’s conflict with Magneto, the leaders of Afterlife have a plan to reveal to them all of the world’s Inhumans, as they plan to destroy all of the humans. Of course, in the end, S.H.I.E.L.D. saves the day.
As Season 2 ended, Jenna Simmons was stuck on a desolate alien planet, and no one knew how to communicate with her or how to save her. Skye was informed that she would be a part of a new team of Super Warrios Coulson was putting together. The President wants to replace S.H.I.E.L.D. with the ATCU, meaning the SHIELD team has to compete with another agency as they try to track down Inhumans. And while Hydra is still a threat, the Inhuman Lash (formerly Andrew Garner) has a mission of his own that is resulting in copious amounts of death.
After Fitz finds a way to bring Simmons back, they discover that she had fallen in love with an American astronaut who had been stuck on the planet with her. With some help from their Asgardian friends, they are able to make their way back to the planet. While there, Coulson kills Ward. It appears as though Fitz is about to bring the astronaut back to Earth, when it is revealed that it’s just the man’s body being inhabited by the evil entity that lives on the alien planet. While Fitz and Coulson are able to escape back to Earth alive and well, the other entity has now inhabited the momentarily lifeless body of Ward and followed S.H.I.E.L.D. back to Earth. Simmons, meanwhile, has agreed to use Lash to attack Hydra.
And that’s the cliffhanger Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. left viewers with at end of the mid-season finale on December 8.
Where to watch
ABC airs Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tuesday evenings at 9/8c. The five most recent episodes of S.H.I.E.L.D. are available at ABC’s website. Beginning Wednesdays, replays of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can also be streamed on-demand with a Hulu Plus Subscription. The first two seasons of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can be streamed on-demand through Netflix.
[Image via ABC]