Make no mistake: Captain America: The Winter Soldier is good. It is very, very good. And its impact on superhero movies to come shouldn’t be underestimated; it proved that a superhero movie doesn’t have to be dark to be smart and politically relevant, that it’s possible to balance humor and levity with serious themes. But Marvel’s biggest impact on entertainment occurred four days later with the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “Turn, Turn, Turn.”
The television show, which finally found its footing a couple months ago after half a year of hit-or-miss episodes, delved into the ramifications Captain America: The Winter Soldier had on the mysterious spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D. Where the movie was sweeping and epic, “Turn, Turn, Turn” was grittier and more contained. Both are a treat to watch on their own, but when combined one could enjoy a truly unique viewing experience. The plot twists introduced in “Turn, Turn, Turn” were still affecting the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. when this article went to print and will continue to affect the show for at least another month.
With “Turn, Turn, Turn” Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has become an analogue to a comic book tie-in. During major events in a comic book universe like Marvel or DC, a miniseries created specifically for the event will chronicle the event on a more general, wide-reaching scale while tie-ins (which are usually comic books that were being sold before the event), will show the reader how the event affects one or more characters in particular. While it usually isn’t necessary to read one to understand the other, the tie-ins are far more enjoyable if one is simultaneously reading the main series. “Turn, Turn, Turn” also managed to pull off one of the most difficult tasks a tie-in can accomplish; it seamlessly wove the main event into the ongoing storyline, creating a lasting impact on the characters without disrupting the flow of the story.
The successful tie-in format introduced by “Turn, Turn, Turn” will be a boon to Marvel. These tie-ins will provide a huge incentive for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. watchers to go see the latest Marvel superhero movie on the big screen soon after opening day. People who saw the movie but don’t watch the TV show will have a decent jumping-off point to tune into the series, which would hopefully increase Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s ratings. Viewers will get to enjoy an immersive experience and can become part of a rich universe as complex as any comic- or novel-based fictional universe. The effects of one two-hour summer blockbuster could translate into months of related TV material that
While Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the first TV show to take place in the MCU, it certainly won’t be the last—about seven more TV shows will be airing on Netflix in a few years. In less than ten years, the MCU will have accomplished what the Marvel and DC comic universes have been working on for decades; it will become a staggeringly massive independent universe that comes close to our own in its complexity. This is one of the biggest moments in entertainment history and we have a front-row seat to watch it unfold from. It is literally the stuff of any comic book fan’s dreams.