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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Resurrection and the Protocol of Promos

Last night the first promotional photo of the cast from the new Joss Whedon series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." premiered. And here it is in all its *anonymous* 'glory'...

Whedonverse Series #5... Expect That it's More Marvel Universe... So Marvel Universe #1 (Reboot)?

more from the Whedonverse and promo photos after the jump...

Left to Right in the Photo:
Chloe Bennett as Skye
Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Simmons
Ian de Caestecker as Agent Fitz
Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson
Ming-Na Wen as Agent May
and Brett Dalton as Agent Ward

and the first tease...

not pictured in the photo: J August Richardson (Gunn from Angel and, curiously, the only Whedonverse alum featured), is also in this... though his role and the size of it is still a mystery. My guess is he's the superpowered character at the very beginning of that teaser (leaping from the building). I imagine without his presence in the cast photo and with the notable absence of Samuel L Jackson as S.H.I.E.L.D. honcho Nick Fury, people will start worrying about a non-diverse cast but its worth noting that this is way more women than Marvel usually allows to share a frame (thanks Joss!) and Ming-na & Chloe are both of Asian descent.

* Anonymous but for the familiar face of as Agent Coulson who, you'll remember died at the hands of Loki in Marvel's The Avengers just last summer. But, you know, the Marvel Universe so there ain't no such thing as death. That's one of the main reasons I stopped reading comic books in truth: without any consequences or stakes or results in the narrative that aren't reversed the very next year (if not sooner), all stories lose their meaning. Will Joss & Team find a way to make Coulson's resurrection seem artistically driven rather than a motivating by crass synergistic branding purposes? It's not like Buffy didn't have its share of life and death reversals but they magically seemed to deepen the stakes (no pun intended) rather than eradicate them. 

I have no idea why but I've always been fascinated by the protocol of promotional cast photos. It seems like the most militaristic and joy-drained aspect of anything in showbiz: all strictly regimented, deadly homogenous and utterly without surprise. On purpose! Examples from the Whedonverse after the jump.

Rule #1: The leading player is always centered
Rule #2: The characters should be grouped by their relationship to the main character.
Rule #3: The effect should be one of a lineup curtain call.
Rule #4: All actors should drain their face of any emotion. They are props.
Rule #5: The costuming must be unobtrusive (unless costuming is a character as in Mad Men)
Rule #6: The background must be a nondescript wall of flat color and/or the workplace setting of the show in question.

Let's look back at Whedon's TV history.

Whedonverse #4: Dollhouse (aka the one with the ambitious A grade concept which was all over the place in execution and would have only ever worked on pay cable)

Whedonverse #3: Firefly (aka the sci-fi western that has the hardest core stans this side of Buffy. See also: Serenity the movie)

Whedonverse #2: Angel (aka his least ambitious series)

Whedonverse #1: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (aka the Greatest Show in The History of Ever)

I chose this image from Buffy's promotional history as a bit of a slight variation on the theme -- Crouching Spike, Buffy on Pedestal, nobody ready to hold hands and bow for the adoring fans -- but most of the rules are still intact and you can find many images from Buffy which fit neatly into the standing lineup, no emotion playbook.

Do you care about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Or are you desperate for Marvel to release Whedon back to his own original show creativity? Do you like those anonymous cast lineups that nearly all TV shows do prior to each season's debut?

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Reader Comments (10)

off topic: Do you know that Southland has been cancelled?

May 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I just want a Buffy movie with everyone returning, or something. I miss SMG (yeah she has that new comedy, but like ... she's such a great dramatic actress!) and the Scooby gang and just, like, everything about Buffy.

May 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Hopefully they are going to make some people dye their hair blonde or have an accent or something because I would have a hell of a time telling some of these people apart based on this photo.

May 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwill h

I am not one to sound the diversity alarms but yeesh, only one non-Caucasian cast-member? This is not comic canon we are dealing with.

May 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

CMG -- um, but didn't you read the text? That makes two asian girls and one black man (not pictured because... well, we don't know why)

May 12, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

will h -- i have that problem with a lot of tv shows when i see cast photos. they seem to always want everyone in the same haircuts. it's so weird.

May 12, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm not sure Joss Whedon could do a T.V. series that would not be appointment television for the missus and I. We will most assuredly be there.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl

I didn't know Ming-Na was in this! I did love her E.R. days.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Whoop! Sorry, Nathaniel.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

I know this is not a YES, NO, MAYBE... but YYYYYYYYEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

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