While the title of this article might seem like a silly question, it won’t sound so far-fetched when you hear what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. executive producer Joss Whedon has to say. In the real world, the big news of today has been the U.S. government shutdown, which means many government workers will be furloughed without pay.
Of course, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. operate in the fictitious Marvel Universe. However, Whedon has gone on record stating that he specifically set the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in present time, because he wanted to be able to address real world events on the series.
“There was talk about doing it in the past, but we wanted the show to be current,” said Whedon. “Not just because we wanted to keep current with the Marvel Universe and the movies, but because we want to be able to talk about the world, be able to talk about now. Because even though it’s a superhero show and even though it’s there to entertain, we want to be able to say something about what human beings are going through right now in the world, in the country.”
The big thing going on right now in the country is the government shutdown, which means it would likely be exactly the type of topic that Whedon would want to address the show. However, there is some debate over exactly where the paychecks for the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are coming from. In the comics, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been portrayed as working for the United Nations. In the cinematic and TV universe, the “H” stands for Homeland, and the organization has been portrayed as a U.S. government organization.
However, S.H.I.E.L.D. also answers to the World Security Council in the movies and on the TV show, which raises some questions. Our best interpretation is that while a shadowy world organization might have some measure of control, it’s still the U.S. Government that is footing the bill, which means a U.S. government shutdown could impact S.H.I.E.L.D.
Would the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. be considered essential employees and exempt from any furloughs? Assuming that S.H.I.E.L.D. falls into a similar classification as the real Homeland Security Department, the majority of S.H.I.E.L.D. employees would probably be exempt from furloughs. However, they would still be expected to do furloughs for non-essential employees. Yes, a U.S. government shutdown could mean that S.H.I.E.L.D. might have to operate with a reduced staff if it were a real organization, so it will be interesting to see if Joss Whedon addresses such an issue on the series.