Marvel's 'Agents' hope to entice Comic-Con fans to lagging ABC

Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:04am EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Disney offered Marvel comic devotees an exclusive look at its new television series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" on Friday as its ABC network hopes to engage the "super fans" at Comic-Con to bounce back from a ratings decline.

Banking on the huge success of Marvel's films that include 2012's "Avengers," ABC and Disney's television series tries to lure young fans of the films to a new platform for the universe created by the comic books.

They had their first shot at San Diego's annual comic convention, which has become a venue for television studios to bring fans their favorite shows, building hype around upcoming seasons.

Unlike the films that focus on superheroes such as Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" side-steps costumed crime-fighters to center on Agent Phil Coulson, a high-level government official who commands Marvel's Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division.

The series' executive producer, Joss Whedon, creator of sci-fi TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and director of Disney's Marvel box office hit films "Thor" and "Avengers," said on Friday that the show would take a more human focus.

"'The Avengers' is the epicenter of the Marvel universe and this is the periphery, this is about the people who did not get the big hammer or gamma radiation, and are dealing with things on a human scale," Whedon told reporters.

For ABC, which has suffered a ratings decline that put it last of the four largest TV networks among the young audience coveted by advertisers, Comic-Con is a quick way to tap into Marvel's devoted fan base.

Last year's "The Avengers" had the largest box office opening at the North American box office, while this year's "Iron Man 3" grossed more than $400 million at domestic theaters.   Continued...