(CBR) "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." returns from winter break tonight with a new episode on ABC -- titled "The Magical Place" -- poised to both pick up the (potentially quite literal) pieces from last month's cliffhanger, as well as start to pay off simmering storylines like the details behind Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg)'s return to life post-death at the hands of Loki in "The Avengers."
"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." started its life with a hefty amount of expectations, as the first live-action TV series set in the beloved and highly lucrative world of the Marvel Studios films. In its first 10 episodes last fall, the show started strong -- 12.12 million watched the series premiere -- but also drew complaints from multiple critics and some vocal viewers, including a sense that the show didn't feel "Marvel" enough to stand next to feature films like last year's "Iron Man 3" and "Thor: The Dark World."
With a new episode nearly here and the previous promise that things get "more Marvel" in upcoming episodes, we gave you, the "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." viewers -- both dedicated fans and skeptics alike -- the chance to ask showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen the questions on your mind. Your Qs and their As follow.
CBR News: Jed, Maurissa, before we get to the fan questions, let's muse a bit about viewer relations in general. In however much you've been able to monitor it, what's your current gauge of fan reaction -- be it Twitter, in-person, general word-of-mouth -- to "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so far? And how important to you both is a strong relationship with fans for a show like this one?
Jed Whedon: They seem to love it on iheartMAOS.com and less so on areyoukiddingmeyouidiots.net, but overall the response has been positive. But there was also a lot of anticipation for this show and inevitably, not everyone got what they wanted.
Maurissa Tancharoen: We hear everyday from people who love the show and are passionate about it. We're grateful for the fans; a relationship with them is something that's very important to us. Our first experience with the power of fandom was "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog." It was so unexpected and overwhelming that it will stick with us forever. We feel interaction with the fans will always be an integral part of our work. The joyous part.
Let's get right into it then with the first fan question, from Tonya J., who requests, "Please address the criticism swirling around if you would, as to "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "not being or looking like a 'Marvel' show - perhaps discuss your vision and direction for the rest of Season 1."
Whedon: We are definitely a Marvel show. We double-checked with them just now and they told us so. But as to looking like a Marvel show -- there is always room to improve on every front, but I think some of the negativity toward our TV show comes with the fact that it is just that -- a TV show. Being held up against the Marvel films, which are the biggest, most exciting movies around. We're generating more content with a fraction of the budget in a fraction of the time, but each episode still has that Marvel flipbook at the top, and the expectation that comes with it, which is very high. And well-earned.
Tancharoen: We're all proud of what our entire team -- from writers to cast to crew -- puts on screen. And Marvel is heavily involved in the creative process. Our collective goal is to make a series that people enjoy watching every week. In one season we have the opportunity to tell 22 hours worth of story in the MCU. We've spent a lot of time in the early part of the season setting things up, laying foundation. As we approach the back half, some of this set up will pay off. This has been the plan from the start. A plan that consists of a respect for and synergy with the films.
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