Four years after Disney bought Marvel, ABC appears poised to launch its first Marvel series. Mining Marvel’s universe for primetime has been a priority for ABC and Marvel Television. Their Avengers-themed effort, pilot Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D, from The Avengers writer-director Joss Whedon, became the first to go to pilot and, unless some calamity occurs, seems destined to go to series. “How wonderful is it,” ABC topper Paul Lee said at TCA today. “My boss Bob Iger buys Marvel… Now we’re not just able to use the Marvel brand but the Avengers franchise for a show.”
Corporate synergy certainly plays a factor in S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s prospects. “We haven’t yet seen the pilot but we’re very hopeful that it would go to series,” Lee said during the ABC executive session. “I don’t want to jinx it we’re very excited about it.” After the session he revealed that Whedon “is already working on (extra) scripts for the series.” S.H.I.E.L.D. is envisioned as a long-time player. “We’d love to see S.H.I.E.L.D. go not just from pilot to series but to last a long time,” Lee said. He said that Whedon “is very engaged” with the project and “is enjoying” returning to television.”
Based on the pilot’s script, penned by Whedon, his brother Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, Lee called S.H.I.E.L.D. “smart with heart” and “very Joss.” Lee wasn’t concerned that the project’s comic book genesis, which is inherently male-skewing, would make the show a difficult sale to the predominantly female ABC audiences the way Shawn Ryan’s Last Resort proved this fall. “Marvel has the ability to bring out the whole family,” Lee said. Because of that, in terms of potential scheduling, “there’s no question S.H.I.E.L.D. could go at 8, it could go on Sunday,” he said. “But it could go at 9 or 10 too.”
It will likely be the first but definitely not the last Marvel series on ABC. “We’re developing a lot of Marvel shows,” Lee said. “Marvel is just huge for us as an opportunity. We did it with Once Upon A Time, and we’re doing it with S.H.I.E.L.D., doing shows that can really help the wider Walt Disney Company.