Published on October 22nd, 2014 | by gareth0
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Vs. Gotham: Who Will Survive
It is a debate that is destined to be one of fan boy legend. Gotham vs Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which one is better, and which one will find long-term success. For this discussion I am overlooking the superhero themed shows on the CW Network as they are aimed at a younger audience and generally follow one particular character whereas the other shows follow several characters and in expanded universe. Gotham has approximately 6,000,000 viewers which are good when you consider it’s up against heavyweights such as the Big Bang Theory, Monday Night Football, and The Voice. The show which details the origins and early years of many classic heroes and villains from the Batman universe has been heavily anticipated and publicized as anyone who was at San Diego Comic Con will tell you, it was hard to miss the ads covering the light rail trains as well is the zip line located next to the convention center.
Fox who has a notoriously short fuse with shows, recently extended their order for episodes to bring the initial season up to 22 which bodes well for the show getting another season provided the ratings do not take a dramatic nosedive between now and then. This is also show that is heavily recorded and will likely do quite well once the DVD sets come to market and to Netflix.
Agents on the other hand has seen a yo-yoing effect with their ratings which did increase last season after the show concluded strong thanks to a tie-in with the latest Capt. America movie. Although the debut this season was a bit rocky they surged to 7.1 million viewers for their most recent episode in large part to an expanded cast. A branching storyline and several surprises in store for fans. Next week the trailer for the upcoming “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”, will be shown during the broadcast which is likely to draw in more casual fans and it appears next week’s tie-in to the recent cinematic universe events surrounding Hydra as part of the strategy to bring in and maintain viewers.
One of the biggest obstacles the show’s face is trying to do justice to the characters while maintaining a television budget. Marvel has had huge success at the box office with big budgeted films that have reignited the passion of fans and set the standard for how comic book-based film should be made. Warner Bros has had success with the Batman series but found that Superman was a bit of a rocky venture until the recent film. Undaunted, they’re moving ahead full speed with a host of films several of which have raised the eyebrows of fans due to their unusual castings, and aggressive schedule.
In this regard Marvel has the huge advantage over their competition, as not only does their ownership owner the network in which they air on, but they have a constant and ever-expanding universe which allows multiple crossover opportunities to promote current and future film projects.
Gotham on the other hand is constrained by having to remain in the origins era of the characters. It would be very difficult for them to have Superman, Wonder Woman, The Green Lantern, or any of their other heroes appear on the show at a time when they were essentially children. Unless we want to go into one of those Star Trek style time loop shows this is something to best stay clear of.
I had said that one of the biggest problems with Agents was trying to do a show without a strong lead as essentially the cast are made up of supporting actors and actresses who are not entirely capable of caring the show on their own. That combined with the fact that they are trying to tell an ongoing story without getting in the way of upcoming film projects while staying fiscally responsible makes it a bit tricky. They don’t want to fall into the monster of the week category, but at the same time fans are going to expect something more than faceless minions and body armor facing off against a team each week.
Gotham must contend with the fact that the origins of the characters have been fairly well-established over the decades and considering we’re at least 10 years away from them becoming their more infamous costume selves for the most part, does also lead to the dangerous path of the show becoming a monster of the week or police procedural. I can almost see it as an X-Files type show where Commissioner Gordon investigates a strange and bizarre supernatural occurrence each week with the occasional involvement of the future superhero or villain in their childhood state.
I think Gotham is getting by on the fact that it’s an interesting show and there is definitely a curiosity factor to it. That being said, both shows need to remember their core audience and try to find a way to appeal to them as well as drawing new viewers despite the difficulties presented with episodic television.
With new adventures of several classic Marvel characters coming soon to Netflix as well as new movies on the horizon, it will be very interesting to see how well both of the shows do long-term. Marvel/Disney has a lot invested in Agents and I could see them riding out potential storms that may arise simply because it is in their best interest of having a platform to promote their future cinematic offerings.
DC on the other hand does not have this luxury as Fox has had a long history of canceling John or shows with promise such as Firefly, Almost Human, and others when they did not immediately grab the audience that was expected of them.
For now Agents appears to have a slight edge thanks in no small part to being in their second season, but it will be very interesting to see what the future holds for both of the shows and if fans will continue to embrace them.