Before we begin, SPOILER ALERT. There. Consider yourself warned. No whining. Also? I use profanity, so if that troubles you, please fuck off. Thanks.
Okay so like many on this planet, I’m anticipating Joss Whedon’s latest foray into television: MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD. And also the upcoming films in the Marvel universe including AVENGERS TWO: AGE OF ULTRON etc etc. I’ve even fancied how I’d write these if given a chance. I’m a frustrated writer, in case you haven’t noticed by my attempts at blogging. I’d like to write professionally, but in case you haven’t noticed, I suck. You may disagree with me. You’re too kind. I suck.
I can’t write for AGENTS OF SHIELD cuz I don’t know the first thing. I haven’t even seen the pilot cuz they wouldn’t let anyone at ComicCon copy it on their cellphones. This IS the 21st century, Disney. Get with the program. Anyway, I’d at least like to get a peek at their Writer’s Bible. Every television series writes up a book they give their writers so they’re all on the same page about details like what’s Agent Coulson’s car’s name? (Lola) or what are the names of the other major characters on the show and how do they interact with one another? Stuff like that. So when you write a script to submit to a show like this, they don’t have to actually change every other word cuz you had no idea what they wanted.
Granted, nowadays you kinda have to be invited to write for television which cuts out the sucky riff raff like me that doesn’t know the first thing about writing for stuff like this. So I’m relegated to nitpicking. That’s all I’m allowed to do. I can’t write for MARVEL, so I’ll just pick at their nits.
For example, what the fuck is this LEVEL SEVEN bullshit anyway? Here’s exhibit A, which you better check out while you still can cuz when DISNEY finds out this is still available on YouTube their lawyers will jump down someone’s shit. Anyway, Exhibit A is also known as “THE CONSULTANT.”
In case you can’t see the above video cuz Disney’s lawyers stepped in YouTube’s shit, I’ll give you a synopsis focusing on the part of the video that’s germane to my point. “Marvel’s One Shot The Consultant” is a short film about two agents of SHIELD who have a political predicament on their hands. Their superiors want them to accomplish something that they both know is gonna have bad repercussions, so they need to look like they’re trying to accomplish this something without being successful. Agent Sitwell isn’t too worried about it cuz he doesn’t think they have the one person that their superiors think they have available anyway, and Agent Coulson just looks at him and asks “What’s your clearance level?”
Sitwell says, “level six. Same as you.”
Coulson just looks at him again.
Sitwell kinda rolls his eyes. “There’s a level seven?”
Yes. Apparently there’s a level seven. And Sitwell DIDN’T know this. He ASSUMED that up until this scene he’d been briefed on everything SHIELD knows. So what’s level six? For that matter, what’s levels one through five? This is something I would imagine the writers of AGENTS OF SHIELD would be briefed on. How to properly use the various levels of SHIELD’s internal working of classified information not just for dramatic or comedic purposes but also for realistic consistency, y’know like the way an organization like this would actually use such procedures for years if not decades.
Only, I can’t find any consistency. I mean in Exhibit A we might assume that Level Seven is everything Sitwell knows plus the one thing Coulson knew which is that they had a major bad guy in lockdown at some prison somewhere. Only, we know Coulson knows A LOT more than that, and odds are Sitwell doesn’t. Even though he’s a fine operative with many years of experience and probably thought he was the same level in the company as Coulson.
In the beginning of the motion picture THE AVENGERS Loki shows up, steals the Tesseract (spoilers!) and turns a secretive underground SHIELD installation in the middle of a desert into a crater. Agents Coulson and Hill turn to Nick Fury for orders, and his response is both cryptic and obvious.
“This is level seven. As of this moment, we’re at war.”
Okay. So. What the fuck is level seven? This has nothing to do with The Abomination. Blonsky isn’t even involved in the motion picture. So how come Loki stealing the tesseract is a level seven thing, AND the fact they have the villain from the most recent HULK movie in custody is also a level seven thing? What the fuck is level seven? How does something that’s level seven get determined that way? Cuz Fury says it is? Is that the only criteria? Cuz if so then Nick Fury’s the end of the line when it comes to intel and we know that’s not that case. He answers to a “council” of people who only told him about the nuke they were gonna send to Manhattan a couple minutes before they actually did. Oh. Sorry. Spoilers!
Even tho as of this writing I haven’t seen the pilot episode of AGENTS OF SHIELD, I know this much. Early on in the episode a gentleman named Agent Ward is brought in and debriefed by another agent. Like a schoolmaster tasking her underling student, she asks him what SHIELD represents.
Ward tells her “its an acronym for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.”
“And what does that mean to you?” she asks.
“It means someone really wanted our initials to spell out SHIELD.”
He’s then asked to describe what he knows about the whereabouts of Agent Coulson. He assumes what he knows to be the truth. He’s a level six operative of SHIELD, and all level six operatives have been briefed that Agent Coulson died on the hellicarrier during The Battle of New York which took place at the end of the first Avengers movie.
Then Agent Coulson walks into the room and welcomes Agent Ward to level seven. So. Again. What the fuck is level seven? Is there a level eight? Nine? Ten? Who keeps track of all this? How does this even work? How could an organization that traffics in intelligence just flaunt this level seven stuff so wantonly?
Do ALL level six operatives know that not only is there a SHIELD which addresses threats to humanity on the ground but there’s also SWORD which addresses alien threats before they make it here? Or is that level seven? At what point are agents briefed about HAMMER, or ARMOR, or STRIKE? or EuroMIND? Think I’m making these up? They’re canon in the comic books. They’ll show up in the tv series and movies if the writers find a need for them.
I don’t get it. I don’t know if the writers of AGENTS of SHIELD even get it. Frankly I’m a little flummoxed. Perhaps this will make more sense in the years to come as it’s fleshed out more, but up until now it just looks like this level seven stuff has been used for dramatic purposes and they really don’t want to delve too deeply in the inner workings of how an intelligence organization might really work. Or maybe this is how they been doing it in comics for decades. I never was a big fan of NICK FURY AGENT OF SHIELD when i was a kid. An old white guy with an eyepatch wasn’t as exciting to me as a green chick in shorts and a blouse, or to be honest, most of the DC roster.
And oh by the way, yes when I was a kid Nick Fury was an old white guy with an eyepatch. He wasn’t half as cool as Samuel L. Jackson has made him in more recent years. I mighta read the book when I was a kid if he was this cool, but that was a long time ago. So anyway, I still don’t know what Level Seven is. If you do, or if you think you do, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.