We’ve been catching up on Arrow and Agents of SHIELD. And there are some interesting comparisons between the two. To be expected, I suppose, given they are both TV shows from comic universes.
In particular, season 2 of Arrow is matching up interestingly to season 1 of Agents of SHIELD. The world by this point has been laid out in both cases, either in the Marvel Phase 1 movies, or else in Arrow season 1. So they’re not dealing with an origin anymore – they’re expanding on the world, working with their heroes, creating the larger world of villains.
So I will look at a strong similarity, a strong difference, and then a similar potential they both have – to tie in to their larger comic universes. Spoilers to follow for Arrow and Agents of SHIELD!
Super Soldier Villains
So, it’s a fascinating thing. Both shows are dealing with super-serums being used to make super-soldier bad guys. An interesting way to build a larger super-powered world. Because both are starting from worlds where there are normal humans – and then, they see something new. Something powerful.
And, like is argued in The Dark Knight, once you have superheroes, the supervillains are sure to come out of the wood-works.
Rather than dealing with the big-bads every week, though, a TV show has to have smaller footsoldiers for your everyday fights, and apparently the solution for that is super soldiers. Because normal guys are only interesting to watch for so long on a superhero show, apparently.
Centipede, the combined Gamma Radiation, Extremis, Captain-America-Serum combination, is an interesting combination of the whole movie enterprise, a combination of crazy power to make unstoppable men. So who do they capture, as we head into the winter break? They capture Agent Coulson. Why? Because he’s died and come back? Is this their goal for their super-soldiers – immortality or invulnerability?
And the Mirakuru, the old WWII serum – much like the basis of Centipede from WWII – is creating enemies. The Church of Blood, it seems, from DC lore. So who do they have in custody? No one. There’s a superhero on the case – so they’re losing right now.
Also, in both shows, the good guys have someone who has been injected with the bad-guy serum. In Arrow, it’s the guy who has wanted to be a hero for so long – who will likely be a good man because of it, and help out. Roy. In Agents of SHIELD, it’s a man from the Pilot, who nearly exploded with Extremis, and who has been working on harnessing it. However, he’s just a man – and he gave up Coulson. Now, has he lived? After all, Extremis… he was only in an explosion, right?
New Characters Vs. Known Quantities
So, this all leads into a discussion of the big difference between the two plots. One is tapping into its comic heritage, and one is trying to keep a distance.
In Agents of SHIELD, they are working largely with new quantities, new villains. New as opposed to the comics. They’re taking the things from the movies, be that Chitari technology or the serums that make up Centipede, and are creating new issues for them. A new villain group. Not Roxxon, or AIM, or Hydra, or some element that is both known about from the comics and even known about from the movies.
The villain Graviton seems to have been created, who I guess is a thing (looked him up), but has not reappeared, and a super-battle has yet to happen. That’s most of it. Otherwise, things are happening to new characters, from new threats, and they’re having to be really creative to not use things from the comics.
In Arrow, on the other hand, part of the joy has been seeing them introduce bit by bit from the comics. First, of course, the title character, and other than Huntress, Deadshot, and Malcolm Merlyn, and maybe the other characters around Green Arrow, they didn’t do much from the comics. Well, okay, that’s more than in Agents of SHIELD so far… Now this season, we’re getting much more. The Church of Blood. The League of Assassins and Ra’s al Ghul. Black Canary. Solomon Grundy. And now, The Flash.
When they started quoting the Solomon Grundy rhyme, in particular, I was taken aback. With both Solomon Grundy and Ra’s al Ghul, there are ideas of immortality to be explored, which are logical as the sort of science a villainy person would explore. And hey, Merlyn didn’t die… so what’s up with that?
Then again, Coulson didn’t die either… What’s up with Coulson? My working theory? He’s the Vision. Except, to be that, they would have to be referencing the comics…
The Potential: A Larger Comic Universe
You know, there’s all this talk about DC pulling off a larger comic universe. The Justice League. And they’re trying to do it, it seems, in the movies, in Batman vs. Superman, or whatever they’re going to call it. But is this the best way to do it?
From what they have going on right now, I would love to see that combined universe growing up from Arrow. We have Arrow, fighting crime in Starling City. We may have The Flash in Central City. Add a Batman show in Gotham, Superman in Metropolis… Then you just need someone interesting to pull them together. Enter Wonder Woman, right?
The possibility is there. Heck, they could combine the two, and do a reverse Marvel Phase 1, working their movie universe together with Arrow. You would have to decide where and when the events of Man of Steel happen – that’s not something you overlook, the crazy gravity-shaping alien attack like that. But still, it could be done.
Meanwhile, in the Marvel ‘verse, I’ve mentioned before that I think Agents of SHIELD is a perfect place to work in some of the elements that we know are going to come up in the films – be that Infinity Gems or characters – and right now, I can see a main way. They have introduced a villain by name and reputation only – the Clairvoyant.
Someone who sees the future, while a technological or just reputation sort of description for the character could be made… it could be a great way to introduce magic, as well. Magic, that they will have to introduce at some point – if they really are going to include Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch into the mix.
Scarlet Witch, who they made sure to recently announce is a confirmed character who has been cast for Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. Confirmed, because they have her filming on Agents of SHIELD? Introducing her, to combat the Clairvoyant? It would be fun.
Of course, if you do that right now – and introduce Quicksilver alongside his sister – that will be DC and Marvel introducing their two main super speed characters at the same time. Then I would have a new topic of comparison for these two shows, wouldn’t I?