Captain America: The Winter Soldier - What Does It Mean For Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Agents-of-SHIELD-End-Of-The-BeginningDOVpUfaWarning: Spoilers ahead for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which opened in U.S. theaters yesterday.

The Marvel Universe was Steve Rogers's playground in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as Captain Americareveled in a level of Easter eggs not previously seen in a Marvel Studios film. The film also set the stage for much of what is to come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- most notably, establishing a threat (Von Strucker, his organization and Loki's scepter) and a pair of new heroes (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch) to be introduced in next year's Avengers: Age of Ultron. But what of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., arguably the property most directly impacted by the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Along the way, various actors involved with the production described it alternately as a S.H.I.E.L.D. movie or as a weigh station between Marvel's The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. You can certainly see where each of those ideas could come from, even while the picture succeeded in retaining its feeling of being a Captain America movie for the most part. But when you make a massive summer tentpole that revolves around -- and ultimately dismantles -- the organization and command structure in charge of your weekly, hour-long drama, there's going to inevitably be some fallout. These summer movies, after all, are way bigger than any one episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  is likely to be.

nick-fury-busted-upNo Fury to fall back on

Nick Fury has had the ultimate say in many of Coulson's actions, and I still believe that it's he May was secretly collaborating with during Coulson's investigations.  And while he may have chewed out ol' Phil during a post-credits sequence that one time, he's been pretty supportive of Coulson and his motley gang while they've flaunted rules and disobeyed orders. That's all gone now, though, and the level of protection that working with him offered is, too. Teasers for later episodes have seen the team running from the law. No resources to fall back on Do you have any idea how expensive jet fuel is? Or all those experimental weapons? Early on, one of the things that many writers said would make Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. more interesting was limiting the team's resources, so that they couldn't just go to the garage and pull out whatever magical tool they needed for the mission at hand, a la Batman '66's utility belt. It seems that's a challenge that the writers and characters will have to rise to in the near future. Nobody to answer to We don't know this for sure yet, but it certainly seems like the leadership vacuum at S.H.I.E.L.D. in the wake of the organization's formal shutdown will leave Coulson more or less totally in charge of his team. What will he choose to do with it? Well, we're going to go ahead and guess that this week or next, something really pressing will come up that guides them more or less totally to the finale so that the next few stories don't get too self-indulgent for Coulson. The truth is out there When Black Widow forced the secrets of S.H.I.E.L.D. to be revealed to the world, that suggests that the secrets Coulson and Skye have been searching for the answers to are now much, much more accessible than they were just a short time ago. That'll be an interesting thing for Skye and Coulson to tackle after finding out that the organization they'd put their faith in had been infiltrated by HYDRA and had been a threat to humanity this whole time. Also, maybe now Coulson can justify killing those two security guards at the Guest House.

RUTH NEGGA, DAVID CONRAD, BILL PAXTON

Treason! Who's on whose side? At the moment, we've got a lot of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents on board that plane, while another batch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are waiting on the ground to kill them all. Not that there's exactly a unified front in the air; May seems to have been caught red-handed and nobody trusts her, while Ward murdered the fake Clairvoyant in cold blood, probably acting under orders from somebody besides Coulson. Triplett and Garrett's loyalties have yet to be tested, but photos for the "Providence" episode coming around in a couple of weeks show him palling around with Ian Quinn and Reina, neither of whom are in jail anymore following, presumably, the collapse of many of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s ongoing prosecutions (or perhaps they never really got to jail since Hand was so keen to be the one putting the cuffs on them and she is definitely working against Team Coulson). Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally found its sea legs as a spy show (rather than a procedural drama, which is how it had been playing for most of the season) last week, and now we've got a TON of new intrigue to deal with.

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A closer connection to the movies than ever When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. launched, one of the common complaints was that it didn't feel like it was really part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Other than some token references to the movies -- mostly The Avengers -- the show more or less charted its own path and the S.H.I.E.L.D. we saw on TV didn't seem to have a ton in common with the S.H.I.E.L.D. Samuel L. Jackson was running on the big screen. That will, necessarily, cease being the case starting with Tuesday's episode, titled "Turn, Turn, Turn." The show deals with a traitor in Coulson's ranks, and it appears as though The Clairvoyant, who has been the series' central antagonist to this point, will have something to do with Victoria Hand, an agent operating with her own agenda in mind. Is she a member of Hydra, or something else? In the comics, she helped Norman Osborn tear S.H.I.E.L.D. down after the Secret Invasion storyline and rebuild it as H.A.M.M.E.R. Part of that, though, was born out of a story where she opposed Fury's handling of the organization, thinking that he was not protecting S.H.I.E.L.D.'s interests effectively. She isn't, then, an inherently evil character in the comics and on Tuesday we may learn that there are more than just the S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA factions at war here. Maybe not, though, as she appeared to be the one ordering Sitwell around, and Sitwell (as we saw in the film) was clearly HYDRA and part of Project Insight. In any event, the show's Thor: The Dark World tie-in may have been a bit on the disappointing side, but it seems as though its interaction with Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be pretty intense.