It's amazing what the television side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become. Here at the end of the franchise's first decade, we've met characters like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the Punisher through their own ongoing shows over on Netflix, watched the Runaways come together on Hulu, seen Agent Peggy Carter move from supporting character in the films to center stage of her own series, and Cloak & Dagger are set to make their big debut next week, but all of it started with one show: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Back in 2013, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. arrived in the wake of the mega-success of The Avengers and Iron Man 3, serving as the MCU's first foray into the world of television. Armed with the hook of the mystery behind Agent Phil Coulson's miraculous return to the land of the living and the promise of weekly Marvel content, the show was met with some massive expectations, and despite some growing pains through its first year, it has managed to keep rolling along, praised by critics and the loyal fanbase that has stuck with it for its solid storytelling, fantastic characters, and slick ability to continually reinvent itself.
With its fifth season having concluded last month and its sixth not set to arrive until summer of next year, let's take this time for a spoiler-filled look back through the journey so far, one that's crossed space and time, taken us into an alternate reality and much, much more.
5. Season 1
As just mentioned, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. arrived in the fall of 2013 in the wake of the incredible success of The Avengers and Iron Man 3. It was the Marvel Cinematic Universe dipping its toe into the world of TV, an experimental, weekly slice of Marvel content meant to expand the franchise beyond the big screen.
For much of its run, the season had to spin its wheels, its episodic, case-of-the-week-type storytelling turning off a large number of viewers who wanted something more grandiose or, unfortunately, couldn't find merit in investing in something unless Iron Man turned up every week. Fortunately, though, when Captain America: The Winter Soldier arrived, the show was finally free to evolve into something else, blowing up its own concept to move into serialized storytelling through to its finale as HYDRA revealed itself, the Clairvoyant was exposed, and the comfortable team dynamic was forever changed when Grant Ward's true allegiances came to light, rewarding those who stuck by the show with some amazing hours of television.
The end of season one is one of the series' finest stretches and allowed for the show to continue reshaping itself, and though the first two-thirds of the season may hold the season overall back from being the show's best, it still did a lot right that needs to be acknowledged, like introducing a roster of fantastic supporting characters like John Garrett, Raina, the Koenigs, Deathlok, and Glenn Talbot into the mix to treating the circumstances around Coulson's return - Project TAHITI, that is - with respect to having fun with film characters like Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and Lady Sif to laying groundwork for future seasons with threads like the Gravitonium to the simple fact it brought this lovable gang, from the dynamic duo of FitzSimmons to the destined-for-greatness "Skye" to the badass that is Melinda May, into the MCU.