Comparing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. & Firefly Similarities - Same Show? | Fanboys Anonymous

Comparing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. & Firefly Similarities - Same Show?

Posted by Anthony Mango Thursday, October 17, 2013
Is it just me, or is Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. extremely similar to the television series Firefly?

Comparing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with Firefly Television Show
There are some glowing similarities
As I previously stated, there's something that just isn't sitting right with me about this show which has prevented me from fully getting on board with liking it. In comparison, Firefly was recommended to me by multiple people that said I would undoubtedly love it, as it would be perfect for my likes. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., at face value, would appear to be perfect as well. However, after watching every episode of Firefly, I simply did not like it. Is this a coincidence, or is there more to it?

Both shows were spearheaded by Joss Whedon, the man who was also responsible for the films The Avengers (launching point for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Serenity (follow-up to Firefly), so you could assume that there would be some similarities simply because they would go with his style of storytelling.

Still, the more episodes that go by and the more I think about it, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems like it was built around the Firefly formula and outlined with the same core concepts.

Don't believe me? Here are some similarities I've noticed between the two series.

#1. Villain of the Week Model

Like in Firefly, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gives you a plot-centric tale where the characterization is gradually spread out in little bits and pieces amongst the episodes. Summaries can be written as "the team deals with ____, which in turn causes them to _____." This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as a show like this would fall apart with boredom if it were structured more like .......heroes

#2. An Aerial, Mobile Base

In Firefly, they have the Serenity ship. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., they have The Bus. One is a spaceship and the other is an airplane. Same general concept when it comes to storytelling. The crew is on board a flying vessel that will transport them to whatever location they need to be for that week's adventure and said vessel is given a nickname, instead of just being "a helicarrier".

Firefly comparison Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Similar to Firefly Show
The Bus from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Serenity from Firefly

#3. The Pilot is a Protagonist

Firefly had Hoban Washburne and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has Melinda May. Extra points? Both pilots have nicknames just the same as their vessels do. I'm referring to "Wash" and "The Cavalry".

#4. The Best Skilled in Combat is a Woman Who Doesn't Want to Fight

Speaking of Melinda May, she's known as The Cavalry because of her supposedly ridiculous skills in combat. Right from the start, they hounded in the idea that May chose a desk job because she doesn't want to fight anymore. Meanwhile, Firefly gives us River Tam, a young woman who was brainwashed and turned into a super soldier, but cowers all the time (until you get to Serenity). At this point, I think if Joss Whedon was commissioned to do a Superman film, we'd see Lois Lane beating up Doomsday or something, since he's clearly got a thing for this trope.

#5. Background Underlying Plot Point: A Member of the Crew is Special and Doesn't Know It

River Tam's experimentation was a story that probably would have panned out over the course of a few seasons, but never got a chance to. What is wrong with her? Who did this to her? So on and so forth. From episode one of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we're told hints about what happened to Coulson. How did he come back to life? What is so magical about Tahiti? Is he a Life Model Decoy or was he revived from magic? Why did SHIELD do this to him? Both River and Phil don't know what's going on with them.

#6. Lead Character = Handsome, Gruff and Arrogant...with a Heart of Gold

Agent Grant Ward. Malcolm Reynolds. Two men that are cocky and kind of act like douchebags, but we see that they legitimately care about their fellow crew members.

#7. Lead Character Flirts with Outsider Non-Warrior 'Social' Person

Malcolm clearly had a thing going on with Inara Serra, who was not a fighter by any means. Instead, she was some sort of space-escort prostitute thing. I don't know what the job was called, but she represented a weaker person who brought an outsider's perspective to the group, needed protection, had people skills and was supposed to be beautiful. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Grant Ward has a budding romance with Skye, our resident newbie to the group who feels like an outsider and guess what...can't fight worth a damn. She needs protection, brings a different perspective to the group's mindset, and seems to have the most amount of people skills in the bunch as she keeps being the driving force of the crew's camaraderie in working together. Plus, she's clearly made out to be the most attractive (which in my opinion, she is, but your mileage may vary). There's no sexuality to Melinda May's character, nor is there any being shown with Jemma Simmons. Skye, on the other hand, gets to flirt with Ward, who gives her longing stares and effectively undresses her with his eyes like so many fanboys are doing on each episode.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nude Skye Hot Chloe Bennet Naked Boobs
Yeah...guilty as charged

#8. Female Casting Comparisons Continue

On top of this, we have several other parallels. Melinda May and Zoe Washburne are the older women that have a leadership role and both are portrayed by non-Caucasian cast members. There isn't a single blonde among the main cast of women for both series and to take things a step further, all of the women have at least shoulder-length brown hair, rather than short red hair or something else of the sort. Notice any similarities between Jewel Staite and Chloe Bennet, both of whom are mixed Caucasian + something else to make them just slightly noticeably different (part Chinese on Bennet's end, part Iroquois on Staite's).

Sexy Chloe Bennet Hot Skye Agents of SHIELD Bikini Sexy Jewel Staite Hot Kaylee Frye Firefly Cute
Chloe Bennet, aka Skye Jewel Staite, aka Kaylee

I hereby declare the merger of your two characters Skylee.

#9. The Brutes, The Nerds, the Outsider and the Handler Overseer

Ward and May are the muscle of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Jayne Cobb and Zoe Washburne (with some Malcolm in there as well) are the brutes of Firefly. The nerds on board The Bus are the Fitz-Simmons duo, while Simon Tam and Kaylee Frye represent the brains on Serenity. We've established that Inara and Skye are the two outsiders, but we didn't mention that Derrial Book and Phil Coulson are the older men that are dispensing wisdom. That is, unless you count Nick Fury as being the true overseer, in which case the drastically older man in comparison to the rest of the cast, who also happens to be black, fits the bill, doesn't he?

#10. Futuristic Alien Technology

Last but not least, the series revolves around action that spawns from technology that is beyond our current levels and has alien influences. Nuff said.

Ten reasons right there that prove that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is borrowing a ton of its backbone from Firefly. Some of these things are unavoidable (ie, our attractive lead characters in a romance) but some of them just seem far too coincidental to not be choices made specifically because they're personal preferences, as opposed to what might work best for the show.

Here's hoping—at least for my own sake—that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can step away from the Firefly method of doing things and go beyond it. If it keeps this up, you won't be hearing too much praise from me about the series.

Have you noticed any other similarities between these two shows? If so, leave us a comment and let us know!

Tony Mango is the founder, editor-in-chief, head writer and podcast host of Fanboys Anonymous as well as all other A Mango Tree branches including Smark Out Moment. He is a pundit, creative director/consultant, fiction writer and more. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.