In this day and age, it’s hard to tell if a movie/TV series crossover is more beneficial to theatrical attendance for the former or ratings for the latter. Perhaps it’s to work both ways in the Marvel Cinematic Universe announcement that Thor: The Dark World is going to connect pretty directly with events in NBC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This isn’t a surprise nor is it that new for the series to feature references to the Marvel movies. Agent Coulson’s story arc has been connected to what happened to him in The Avengers since the start and will continue until we’re given more details of how the character was resurrected following “The Battle of New York.” And a couple episodes have involved the Extremis serum first seen in Iron Man 3.
I haven’t seen the new Thor sequel yet, so I have no speculation to offer regarding the plot connection, but I can’t imagine it being too significant. The movie won’t be ending with a “To be continued on television in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” that’s for sure. We’re being given two weeks from the opening of The Dark World to the airing of the episode in question (“The Well”), but will the show actually depend on us seeing the movie in that time? That could potentially alienate some viewers who might want or need to wait for the movie to hit video to see it. And with ratings for the show continuing to decline in both the U.S. and UK, screwing with any of the remaining audience is not a good idea. As a sweeps month stunt, I think they’d be better off with a character cameo, even one not from the movies but at least from the comics.
There’s no need to pile onto the general criticisms of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. here (follow Inkoo’s weekly reviews of the show for that), but while crossover gimmicks are theoretically good for baiting fans, the series needs to start to stand on its own at some point. And that won’t happen as long as there’s this constant need to tie it in to the other properties. This is a problem already for the films themselves. As it is, the TV show doesn’t feel like a necessity so much as bonus material. It feels to the movies like webisodes feel to their respective series, not canonically important. If Marvel wants to mimic the way comics work and that’s the reason for the crossover stuff to begin with, they should also be faithful to the fact that most of the time each comic title gets to do its own thing.
The official synopsis for “The Well” reads: “In the aftermath of the events chronicled in the feature film Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, Coulson and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pick up the pieces–one of which threatens to destroy a member of the team.” Guest actors in the episode include Ghostbuster II’s Peter MacNicol, Michael Graziadel (The Young and the Restless) and Erin Way (The Collection). Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: First Contact) is directing. Thor: The Dark World opens Friday.