EDITORIAL: Family Archetypes In Marvel's AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

A deeper look at the S.H.I.E.L.D. family and everyone's role in it...

Editorial Opinion

I don’t think I’m making some groundbreaking discovery when I say that the members of Coulson’s team in AoS look a lot of a family. But not exactly modern type of functional family. I’d rather say that each character fits an archetype of a family member and the storylines work around those archetypes.



It’s not hard to say who’s who. Coulson and May are obviously Father and Mother. They are the most mature and they really do take care of the whole team. Also, Father shares a deep bond with Mother, something he could share only with her. In some ways she’s the only one he considers truly equal to him. They both accept each other’s level of maturity and they both know other members of the family are just not there yet.
Ward is the Older Brother, Skye is the Middle Sister, Jemma and Fitz are the youngest, they are almost Children.

Older Brother, naturally, is not too nice. He knows he’ll be the head of the family one day and he tries to act like the part, but he’s ultimately not prepared for it. So he tries to act like a mature adult, but his hormones are still crazy and that results in lots and lots of angst. Older Brother has his eyes on the Middle Sister, because she’s the only age-appropriate mate for him, but he won’t admit it. Freud says every boy’s first sexual fantasy involves his mother and that’s literally what happens on the show. Older Brother has sex with Mother, that’s the first sexual intercourse we see him having on the show. He’s driven to her maturity and he’s subconsciously trying to take Father’s place. That doesn’t erase his feelings for the Middle Sister, though. He still wants her.



At the same time Father cares the most for Middle Sister – because she’s old enough to not be a child, but not too old to need his protection. And every daddy is extremely protective of daddy’s girl, right? So he takes special care of her. But he also punishes her when she breaks the rules. And Middle Sister likes to break the rules. She’s old enough to considers herself mature, but she doesn’t see herself as future head of the family yet. Out of all members, she’s the one that wants to explore the world outside the family the most. She likes to be free and this free spirit is her defining attribute, because it makes her braver than the children and also more irresponsible than the adults. So Middle Sisters secretly goes outside the family and explores the world. Her first sexual experience is with an outsider. She is eventually discovered by Father and is punished for that. We’ve seen all of that on the show.

But the bond between Father and Middle Sister doesn’t go unnoticed by Older Brother, nor does the bond between Father and Mother for that matter. So Older Brother starts developing some angst against Father. We’ve seen the beginning of this in the latest episode (“I don’t blame myself”, meaning that he blames Father”). This will have to escalate before it’s dealt with.

The children are still young and naive. Everyone loves them, even if they act a bit annoying at times. The children don’t have any kind of sexual experience and they don’t think about that yet. They take people at face value and want all to be friends. I’d say Jemma is definitely the third child, she’s a bit more mature than Fitz, but not by far. She still acts like a bigger sister, though, and loves to take care of him. The Smallest Brother loves her as he loves everyone, but he can be a little egoistic and egocentric at times without realizing it, just like a child.

So what do you guys think? Are you interested in seeing the development of the family dynamics on the show?

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