The Pentagon Does Not Approve of S.H.I.E.L.D. or The Avengers
Posted 05.10.12 by BrentJS
Despite the fact that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and countless other all-too-human agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.(Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) risked their lives to help Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and the rest of the costumed superheroes stop Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his otherworldly army in The Avengers, the real-life U.S. Defense Department has a problem with the fictional counterterrorism and intelligence agency.
Apparently, it's okay for a civilian to put on a homemade suit of armor and fly overseas to fight terrorists on their home turf — the Defense Department assisted Marvel Studios during the making of Iron Man — but a spy agency that operates on (and above) U.S. soil that doesn't answer to Washington is a big no-no. Phil Strub, the Defense Department's liaison to Hollywood, recently explained to Wired that the "unreality" of S.H.I.E.L.D. in The Avengers prompted the Pentagon to halt its cooperation with Marvel.
We couldn’t reconcile the unreality of this international organization and our place in it. To whom did S.H.I.E.L.D. answer? Did we work for S.H.I.E.L.D.? We hit that roadblock and decided we couldn’t do anything [with The Avengers].
It may seem somewhat ridiculous that the Pentagon would take issue with the "unreality" of S.H.I.E.L.D. instead of, oh, a Norse god with a magical hammer (Chris Hemsworth), a gamma-powered gargantuan (Mark Ruffalo) or alien invaders, but Wired's Spencer Ackerman succinctly put the "vexing" problem of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s authority into perspective.
If it’s an American governmental agency, what kind of constitutional authority does it exercise over the military? If it’s an international body, as the movie text suggests and Strub determined, are U.S. military personnel and equipment on loan to it through some kind of United Nations Security Council resolution? The questions may seem picayune, but they’re precisely the stuff that can cause an image-conscious military to yank its cooperation from a movie.
It's unfortunate that the Pentagon took this stance, but the movie didn't really suffer for it. As evidenced by the B-roll footage of the making of The Avengers that was recently released by Marvel, much of the action was shot against green and blue screens, with aliens, vehicles, and entire city blocks inserted digitally in post-production.
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The Avengers was written and directed by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dollhouse). The cast includes Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig, and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts.
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