Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

Good cop, bad cop: interrogating Agents of SHIELD

Jowett, L. and Iatropolous, M. (2016) Good cop, bad cop: interrogating Agents of SHIELD. Panel Presentation presented to: 7th Biennial Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses (SCW7), Kingston University, UK, 07-10 July 2016. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Panel Presentation)
Abstract: A certain trepidation pervades critical discussion of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. amongst Whedon scholars. For all the trumpeting of Joss Whedon’s name to promote the show, Whedon’s nominal involvement in production prompts the question of whether AoS is “really” a Whedon show. At times, AoS seems too mainstream for a cult audience; at others, it courts this audience with narrative “special effects,” references to comic book sources, and Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-ins. The show resists linear interpretation by constantly upheaving itself, from dramatic reversals in basic narrative expectations (e.g. the Hydra revelation following The Winter Soldier) to sudden twists requiring us to completely reassess characters (e.g. Ward having been Hydra all along). How can we make sense of such a swiftly-shifting and seemingly contradictory show? Are they S.H.I.E.L.D, or are they Hydra? Are they good guys, or are they bad guys? Is this really a Whedon show, or isn’t it? Is it any good, or not? This paper deliberately adopts binary positions to engage this dialectic and flesh out debate regarding AoS as part of the Whedonverse. This paper extends Abbott, Calvert and Jowett’s discussion of AoS as part of the Whedon brand (2015) and Kociemba and Iatropoulos’s examination of Whedon’s auteurism (2015). Some “Whedonesque” elements (as defined by Lavery, Wilcox, and others) do surface in AoS. As Jowett will contest, when understood as Whedonesque, AoS is televisual art deserving of acceptance into Whedon canon. Yet, as Iatropoulos will argue, AoS’s strategy of undermining expectations can result in the show’s “Whedonesque” elements also being undermined. Jowett and Iatropoulos will present an embodied performance of critical contention involving the show’s treatment of race, gender, and age, inhabiting--and thus making visible--AoS’s oscillation between subverting ideological and genre paradigms and reinforcing them.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Joss Whedon, Maursissa Tanchareon, television, Marvel Comics Universe, race, gender, age, representation
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1992 Television broadcasts
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women > HQ1101 Women. Feminism
Creators: Jowett, Lorna and Iatropolous, MaryEllen
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Education & Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Faculties > Faculty of Education & Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Date: 8 July 2016
Date Type: Publication
Event Title: 7th Biennial Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses (SCW7)
Event Dates: 07-10 July 2016
Event Location: Kingston University, UK
Event Type: Conference
Language: English
Status: Unpublished
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