S.H.I.E.L.D to save Channel 4

Broadcaster secures the rights to Marvel's newest comic book creation

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Channel 4 are looking to smash the competition Hulk-style, by securing the rights to Disney’s superheroic TV show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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A spin-off from the blockbuster movie Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, it follows a team of secret agents as they investigate the weird, wonderful and superpowered. Think The X-Files with more spandex.

It’s set in the same universe as The Avengers, but don’t expect Iron Man or Captain America to show up. A television budget wouldn’t stretch to the olive in Robert Downey Jr’s martini.

Instead, it will follow a B-Team of less famous, but no less interesting heroes, lead by the sardonic Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). Memorably, Coulson’s death in The Avengers inspired Thor et al to save the world. Quite how the Agent comes back to life remains to be seen.

Joining Coulson will be Agents Grant Ward (Brett Dalton); Melina May (Ming-Na Wen), an ass-kicking pilot; engineer Leo Fritz (Iain De Caestecker); scientist Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and Skye (Chloe Bennet), a hacker with a mysterious past.

The series is from mastermind Joss Whedon, the same genius behind Marvel’s Avengers Assemble. Something of a nerd messiah, Joss made his name on television with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the short-lived but much-loved Firefly. Be warned: he has a habit of killing off your favourite characters (he’s already murdered Agent Coulson once).

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D got the geek stamp-of-approval at Comicon this year, and there are even rumours it will tie-in to The Avengers sequel Age of Ultron, to be released in 2015.

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Viewers holding out for some heroes don’t have long to wait: the series will premiere this autumn on Channel 4.