How do you shrink down a billion-dollar comic book franchise to fit on the small screen? We think we just found out.
ABC's hotly-anticipated "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," a spinoff of last year's mega-hit movie "The Avengers," made its debut at Comic-Con on Friday, with fans getting the very first look at the series premiere (airing September 24). And we were there, taking notes in the dark to bring you five key reveals from this fall's buzziest new show. (Warning to the spoiler-phobic: A couple of huge bombshells are detonated below, so avert your eyes if you don't want to know.)
1. Cobie Smulders is onboard!
When "S.H.I.E.L.D." the TV show was first announced, fans wondered if "How I Met Your Mother" star Cobie Smulders would be available to reprise her "Avengers" role as Agent Maria Hill. Well, wonder no more: Smulders is front and center in the premiere, a full and prominent member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team.
Of course, she still needs to get married to Neil Patrick Harris on the final season of "HIMYM," so it's not clear how often Smulders will appear on "S.H.I.E.L.D." going forward. But she's definitely a valued member of the cast; as director Joss Whedon (who also helmed "The Avengers") told Entertainment Weekly, "I wanted very much to have Cobie in the pilot, because as much as anyone else, she is S.H.I.E.L.D."
2. Coulson lives!
S.H.I.E.L.D, for the uninitiated, is a top-secret global squad of human agents that helps superheroes like Iron Man and Captain America keep the planet safe, led by the ultra-cool (and snarky!) Agent Coulson, played by Clark Gregg.
We know what you're thinking: Didn't Agent Coulson die in "The Avengers"? Yes, he did… but nobody stays dead for long in comic books, right? The "S.H.I.E.L.D." premiere explains that Nick Fury only faked Coulson's death to motivate the Avengers, with the agent enjoying some down time in Tahiti. But there's more to the story: Maria hints that Coulson still doesn't know what really happened when he "died." Sounds like a mystery that may take all season to unravel.
Watch the trailer for ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." right here:
3. There's a superhero in the mix… but which one?
Thor and The Hulk may not make a cameo in the "S.H.I.E.L.D." premiere, but we do get to witness some jaw-dropping feats of strength from the humbly named Mike Peterson, played by Whedonverse veteran J. August Richards ("Angel"). He's a single dad who recently lost his job, but he's also capable of throwing a grown man across the room like a rag doll, thanks to super-soldier chemicals from a nefarious doctor.
The premiere doesn't reveal Peterson's superhero identity, but he doesn't seem like the type to wear a mask and tights anyway; it all fits with "S.H.I.E.L.D.'s" more grounded approach to comic book spectacle.
4. They've assembled a sexy supporting cast
Want some eye-candy to go along with your slam-bang action? Well, you've come to the right place. Top to bottom, the "S.H.I.E.L.D." team might be the most attractive cast on TV, led by two pairs with sexual tension to spare: computer hacker Skye (Chloe Bennet) and kick-ass operative Agent Ward (Brett Dalton), and tech-savvy lab rats Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). And we can't forget "ER" veteran Ming-Na Wen, looking great in a skintight bodysuit as Agent Melinda May. This is the TV show HD was made for.
Meet "S.H.I.E.L.D.'s" cute lab techs Fitz and Simmons in this preview clip:
5. Fly, Lola, fly
We already have a favorite "S.H.I.E.L.D." character, and her name is Lola: the sleek, cherry-red vintage Corvette driven by Agent Coulson. He raves about her classic design ("new doesn't necessarily mean improved"), but Lola isn't as old-fashioned as she looks. At the very end of the premiere, Coulson offers Skye a lift, and they're running short on time. No problem: Coulson flips a switch, and like Doc Brown's DeLorean, Lola transforms into a jet-powered flying car.
If "S.H.I.E.L.D." can find a way to sustain this kind of wow factor in subsequent weeks, ABC might just have an "Avengers"-sized hit on their hands.
"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." premieres Tuesday, 9/24 at 8 PM on ABC.