Although it’s become less of a force in later years, the organization S.H.I.E.L.D. was huge at the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was the backbone for which all other MCU properties were connected.
Eventually, the organization was doomed in Winter Soldier, but it still lived on through the fan favorite show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Even though many of the characters never had powers the way some of the bigger names do, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were some of the toughest and most dedicated heroes of the MCU.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduced fans to the complex hierarchy of agents involved in the organization. Although he didn’t have the fighting power of some field agents, Fitz was still immensely important to the organization.
He was bright, dedicated, and willing to sacrifice everything and anything for the job. As the series went on, his role grew as both an agent and a character, even becoming an essential force in the show’s final season.
Fitz and Simmons were such a pair that their names were often mashed together. Simmons was just as smart, and probably had twice the bravery as her partner in crime.
As the series went on and their relationship grew, the love story between Fitz and Simmons became a backbone of the show. Unlike some shows, which failed to create meaning behind the love story, Simmons shines as a tremendous character in her own right during the final season when Fitz was missing.
Yo-Yo was a lesser known character in the comics that had an incredible character arc in the show. In the beginning, she didn’t even speak English, but that didn’t stop her from joining S.H.I.E.L.D. and becoming an essential part of the team.
Like most characters in the show, Yo-Yo’s character arc became fairly brutal at times. She even lost her hands in the line of duty and was forced to get prosthetics. However, with unique powers that allowed her to move extremely fast, Yo-Yo’s abilities made for some pretty incredible action sequences.
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Mac was a super minor character in the comics, but he somehow became one of the most important characters in the entire show. When Coulson stepped down as head of S.H.I.E.L.D., Mac stepped in to run the organization.
Also at this time, S.H.I.E.L.D. was working underground. It was staying off the radar of many government organizations, and running a much tighter, leaner agency. This is in large part due to Mac’s influence, not to mention the fact that he had an incredible story arc involving a son.
6) Melinda May
Melinda May was a very interesting character as she was built up to be this unstoppable force called the Cavalry. She gained this reputation by dispatching an entire squad of bad guys by herself.
In truth, what actually happened was far different and traumatic than what people believed, but it wasn’t revealed until many seasons later. For someone without powers, May was one of the strongest agents on the show, and Ming-Na Wen, the actress who portrayed her, is practically Disney royalty at this point.
Quake definitely had one of the weirdest journeys out of everyone in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She started off as a hacker named Skye, before learning that her birth name was actually Daisy. Things got even weirder when she later learned she was an Inhuman with incredible powers.
In many ways, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was largely about Quake’s journey. She started off as someone on the run, and ended up training to become one of the best agents S.H.I.E.L.D. ever produced. In fact, her relationship with Coulson is one of the strongest in the entire show, and fans deserve to see her return in some fashion.
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Coulson holds a unique place in the MCU, as he held a major role without being a creation from the comics. In fact, he was the first representative of S.H.I.E.L.D. that appeared in the MCU back in the first Iron Man film.
What’s even more impressive is that Coulson played a major part in the first Avengers movie, and then even returned from the dead to be the centerpiece to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. While he never was as high ranking as Hawkeye or Black Widow, he eventually led the organization as director through its darkest hour. Coulson should definitely get more credit for that.
3) Black Widow
Fans sometimes forget that Black Widow and Hawkeye were technically agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. when the MCU began. Their names were even dropped in the show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as being the top agents in all of the organization.
Black Widow didn’t start working for the good guys, though. Later MCU installments revealed that Hawkeye actually recruited her, and she defected to the organization. When S.H.I.E.L.D. eventually fell, she was right there, and had a hand in trying to stop its demise.
Hawkeye and Black Widow are viewed as a pair within S.H.I.E.L.D. They were so good as a team that their missions became legendary. However, Hawkeye gets a leg above her, as he was with the organization first.
Although his history hasn’t been as fleshed out as much as Black Widow’s, a lot of his character was expanded upon, albeit poorly at times, in the Hawkeye show. He was trained as a weapon to kill people, not as a hero. This is in large part due to his role in S.H.I.E.L.D., which required him to work in the shadows, rather than be the face of a team like the Avengers.
For a long time, Nick fury was S.H.I.E.L.D., and the two were inseparable. Rumors that Samuel Jackson was going to step into the role were everywhere, but it wasn’t until he made his first appearance in the end credit scene in Iron Man that fans got their wish.
Of course, the massive organization he built up wasn’t meant to last. It crumbled in Winter Soldier, and Fury passed the director spot to someone else, but that didn’t mean he was out of the fight. Nick Fury still remains doing what he does best; it just so happens he’s now on his own.