Since the day the first cast photo of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was released until .. well.. today we have seen endless rants about how racist Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is and frankly, we believe the claims are unfounded.

The first claim focuses on the main cast with many dismissing the fact that two of them have Asian backgrounds referring to the cast as “all white”. Another common complaint has been that the cast are all teenagers when in fact two are in their 50s, one in their 30s and the remaining 3 in their 20s.

The second claim is that “All the black people in the show are villains” or “This team are against villains who are rarely white.” Let’s take a look at that second point based on the first 9 episodes of the season…

Note: “guy” used throughout this article indicates either male or female.,

Episode 1 “Pilot”

The show introduces our main cast, including two Americans, two British and two of Asian background.

As the main story unfolds we are introduced to Mike Peterson, a black man played with great skill I might add, by J. August Richards. Is Mike Peterson a villain? Absolutely not! Mike is a single father who cares about his son and who cares about being a good man. He suffered an injury and was dismissed from his job, he was then taken advantage of by an evil organization who drugged him and experimented on him. As a result of this he lost control and reacted with aggression against his former boss. He was under the influence, this was not within his normal nature. Mike was a good guy who wanted to make a difference in the world, he wanted to be a hero and Agent Coulson told him he still can be.

The doctor who manipulated and experimented on Mike – the real villain of the story –  was a white woman The members of The Rising Tide that attacked Agent Ward and fired a gun at Mike and Skye were also white. The other significant people of color in the episode were Mike’s son Ace and the S.H.I.E.L.D. doctor, played by Ron Glass.


  • Characters of Color =  3 good guys, 0 bad guys
  • Main bad guy = white

Episode 2 “0-8-4″

A group of Peruvian militants take over The Bus and put our team’s lives at risk in order to steal a dangerous device. The episode takes place in Peru so it is logical the guest characters in this episode would be Peruvian.  The most significant guest character in this episode however is Director Nick Fury who is not only a “good guy” but he is also a person in a powerful position within the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization.


  • Characters of Color = 1 good guy, 1 bad guy (plus multiple accomplices)

Episode 3 “The Asset”

Dr. Franklin Hall, a S.H.I.E.L.D. asset is kidnapped by millionaire Ian Quinn who seeks to use his knowledge to gain power. While Quinn is the real villain of the episode Hall essentially turns evil. Both men are white, as are Quinn’s thugs. There are numerous background characters in the episode who are people of color but none specifically identified as “villains.”


  • Characters of Color = 0 good guys, 0 bad guys
  • Main baddies = 2 white

Episode 4 – “Eye-Spy”

An unknown “handler” controls our main guest character, Akela Amador, who initially appeared to be a villain and diamond thief however it turns out she was a trained S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (good guy) who was captured, implanted with a device in her eye and controlled. The only bad things she did were because she had no choice, someone was controlling her. We are yet to discover who the bad guy is never mind what his or her race may be. This episode also includes a lot of Swedish background actors and while they may not people of color.” they could be considered multi-cultural (or of a “different race”).


  • People of Color = 1 good guy, 0 bad guys
  • Main baddie = unknown

Episode 5 – “The Girl in the Flower Dress”

This episode is set in Asia and two of main guest characters are Asian.  Chan aka “Scortch” started out a good guy but was lead astray by the “Girl in the Flower Dress”, he is experimented on by the white doctor from the pilot episode and turns evil. During the episode Agent Coulson contacts Kwan an Asian S.H.I.E.L.D. agent for information. Skye has a rendezvous with a white member of activist group The Rising Tide (bad guys). The post credits scene introduces a rough looking man in prison, clearly a bad guy, and he’s white.


  • People of Color = 1 good guys, 2 bad guys
  • Main baddies = 2 people of color, 2 white

Episode 6 – “F.Z.Z.T.”

There are no bad guys in this episode as the case the team are investigating is related to a piece of alien technology that causes a virus to spread to anyone who touches it. The main person of color in the episode is a hero, a firefighter who is one of the victims of the virus.


  • People of Color = 1 good guy, 0 bad guys
  • Main baddie = alien virus

Episode 7 – “The Hub”

Our team deal with a rough group of people trying to gain their independence from Russia. The only significant person of color in the episode is Agent Sitwell who is a high level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.


  • People of Color = 1 good guy, 0 bad guys
  • Main baddies = white

Episode 8 – “The Well”

The setting for this episode is Europe (London, Norway) and the bad guys seeking the power of the Berserker Staff are all white Europeans. The other significant character in the episode is Professor Randolph who turns out to be Asgardian. Also appearing in the episode is an older boy who we presume to be Agent Ward’s older brother (in a flashback scene.) He is manipulative and aggressive and definitely a bad guy.


  • People of Color = 0 good guys, 0 bad guys
  • Main baddies = multiple white guys

Episode 9 – “Repairs”

There were only 2 significant guest characters in the episode, one innocent and one a bad guy who was trapped phasing between Earth and another world, attacking people in order to “protect” the girl he loved. Neither of them were people of color.

  • People of Color = 0 good guys, 0 bad guys
  • Main bad guy = white


With all this laid out we hope it will help you develop an informed opinion about whether or not agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. really is racist. The series has so far in just 9 episodes shown great diversity with episodes set in various countries around the world including the US, Europe and South America.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has had a total of:

  • 3 (plus a few random Peruvians in episode 2) people of color who were bad guys.
  • more than 6 significant bad guys who were white
  • 8 people of color playing guest characters that are good guys.

In addition to the episodes already aired we know that J August Richards will reprise his role as Mike Peterson in tonight’s episode, not as a bad guy, but working alongside S.H.I.E.L.D. as the good guy we pointed him out to be in the first place.

While casting is the most obvious target for the “racist” debate, we would also like to point out that at least two members of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. writing team are people of color.

Credit: Thanks to Agent Nyoshi for her contributions to this article.

Join the forum discussion on this post

Related Posts