Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D preimered last night with record breaking numbers. Leave it to Joss Whedon to take a once unprofitable part of Marvel Comics and turn it into a hit primetime TV drama. Comedy, action, and comic-book references galore, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is everything a Marvel Comics fan can hope for, but the best part of the show is Melinda May, played by Ming-Na Wen. This single character takes several cinema character types that have been used for decades, and seamlessly gives them all a fresh approach.
Picture this: A seasoned cop or detective that has seed it all. They are working an easy desk job, just trying to make it to retirement. How often is this character a male? A LOT. By making the ‘veteran cop’ on S.H.I.E.L.D. a woman, right off the bat Joss is taking a simple approach that few cop dramas have.
A cool-headed pilot
When we see a pilot on TV or a movie, they are almost always hot headed, or have an addiction for danger. Ming-Na keeps her head as level as the plane. She can be cold, and calculated, which is very different from the pilots we see in Top Gun and Independence Day. Did I mention she’s a woman?
She’s Chinese and doesn’t have an accent
We’ve come a long way, but racial stereotypes are still a very large issue in main steam cinema. Half the time I see someone who is Chinese on TV they have a deep accent or they are a scientist. We rarely see Chinese actors and actresses playing pilots or drug dealers unless the story is set in China. By making the character Melinda Chinese it creates a more realistic world…well…as realistic as a world with time lost super soldiers can be.