There was a time when television spinoffs were largely treated as a joke. Post-Friends, Joey didn’t last more than two seasons. Caprica fell flat in the wake of Battlestar Galactica. But in the era of the superhero show, they’ve become almost an inevitability. The format lends itself to a decent spinoff, too. Here we have a story that (usually) begins following a single superhero pulled straight from the comics. Slowly, that universe expands to include other characters from that comic book universe until we know these secondary heroes well enough to accept them carrying their own shows.
We saw it first with the CW’s Arrow introducing a backdoor pilot to The Flash, spawning a show that in many ways has surpassed its predecessor. In turn, these two shows will be combining forces to spawn another spinoff, this time featuring a smattering of heroes who have appeared in either or both series. Clearly the formula has been tested enough to apply elsewhere, and so enters Agents of SHIELD into the picture. The ABC show has not one, but two spinoffs planned (with no word on the future of the first effort, Agent Carter).
One of the new series from Marvel/ABC is short on details past the news that John Ridley (12 Years A Slave) will be the man in charge, and that it’ll include the “reinvention of a current character.” But for the other, news recently broke on some fairly specific plot points. As it stands now, the potential spinoff will star Agent Bobbi Morris (also known as Mockingbird) and her ex-husband Lance Hunter. Both characters are still playing major parts in Agents of SHIELD, but we imagine the final episodes of the season will set up their standalone series in some capacity.
Naturally, SHIELD has the wherewithal to withstand losing two fairly major characters. The question instead is whether Agents Morris and Hunter have enough depth to carry their own show. So far, we know that Mockingbird is a fiercely loyal and effective member of the team. Hunter has assumed the role of the wisecracking rogue for his part, so perhaps their natural on-screen chemistry could spell some modicum of success for a studio that has yet to truly miss. But what’s more intriguing are the rumors surrounding the second series headed up by Ridley.
As it stands on the show now, Agents of SHIELD has one other place it could spin off, and that’s straight to the Inhumans (spoilers ahead for all episodes). We recently found out that Skye is one of the legendary Inhumans, a lineage of humans genetically altered by the Kree and left behind in their wake. Their planned movie got pushed to 2019 following the Marvel’s deal with Sony to conditionally add Spider-Man to the MCU, leaving the door wide open for the setup being done right now in the TV universe. Currently, Skye is living in a remote complex in the mountains as she learns to control her powers, meets her fellow Inhumans, and digs into the history of her people.
Of course, any show involving this would have to leave out the primary members of what’s known as the royal family. Marvel will likely save the bigger elements for the 2019 film release, but establishing the mythos of the Inhumans with multiple characters ripe for crossover could serve the movie well, given that most mainstream audiences have no idea who they are. Introducing them early on gives people that all-too-necessary familiarity. Whatever it ends up doing, though, it’s clear that Marvel has officially entered into the age of the spinoff alongside its DC competitors over on the CW.
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