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The Villain from 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Shares a Name with a Real Environmental Group

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered to much fanfare last night, but not everyone is excited about this new show. An environmental group called "Rising Tide" claims that ABC, Marvel, and Joss Whedon stole both their name and logo for the...
September 25, 2013, 5:33pm

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is Joss Whedon's brand new show about the C.I.A.-like government spying group that exists within Marvel’s ubiquitous superhero universe. It premiered last night and features fun sci-fi and fantasy things like a guy who can punch through walls, and a hovercar. It also features a shadowy secret organization that has the same name as a real life group of environmentalist crusaders.


The Rising Tide of the "Marvel Cinematic Universe" is a conspiracy group of some sort that means to expose the secrets of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I’m not 100% clear on why they want to do that. It also seems to consist of hackers who conspire with mad scientists to modify people’s bodies, which seems perfectly normal to a citizen of Los Angeles such as myself. Meanwhile, Rising Tide North America, without “The,” is a political action group that spreads the word about climate change, and currently has its sights set on stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline.

So, what do members of the real-life group do to respond to this likely coincidence? Take the news with grace and good humor?

Of course that’s not what they did. They issued a very accusatory press release before the show aired, with the headline “No, Actually We Are The Rising Tide,” which began essentially by taking a dump on Marvel Comics and Joss Whedon.

“Some may say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the big problem for Rising Tide North America is that Whedon’s show uses our name and a very similar logo to ours for his villains.”

The release also gets totally batshit crazy and defends the fake Rising Tide from the show, comparing it favorably to WikiLeaks and Anonymous, because it exposes the truth behind evil government conspiracies.

"In our estimation, exposing governmental secrets and lies is a most worthy pastime and similar to what groups like WikiLeaks and Anonymous have done in real world. Unfortunately, the series plays to our mainstream culture’s fears around anarchists and radicals, and portrays the group as a threat to national security. Some reviews call the group “cyber-terrorists.” This is par for the course in a Hollywood that uses pop culture to turn government agents into heroes and seekers of truth, justice and ecological sanity into evildoers."


It’s probably a bad PR move to side with TV villains. In the next episode, someone from The Rising Tide will probably kill a puppy our out themselves as white supremacists, and they’ll really regret the verbal high-five.

The press release ends with a link to a petition demanding that Disney “Stop co-opting our name and logo,” that has about 210 signatures at press time.

Then, they tweeted about it all day:

Climate Activists Aren't Cyber-Terrorists! Tell @Disney to stop depicting @RisingTideNA as terrorists @AgentsofSHIELD

— Rising Tide NA (@RisingTideNA) September 24, 2013

Meet The #RealRisingTide: @WildIdahoRT Blocks #TarSands Megaloads to Save Lives #AgentsofSHIELD

— Rising Tide NA (@RisingTideNA) September 24, 2013

Meet The #RealRisingTide: More Amazing Than Spider Man…. #AgentsOfSHIELD @KXLBlockade @RisingTideNTX #nokxl

— Rising Tide NA (@RisingTideNA) September 24, 2013

Yes, “more amazing than Spider Man.” The link in that tweet is to a page about an 80-day blockade in Texas against the Tar Sands Pipeline. Punctuated by “Let's See The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Do That,” in their description.

A blockade is great and everything, but the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would use their laser cars and rocket guns to blast away the Tar Sands Pipeline. Then Spider-Man could build an anti-U.V. web around our atmosphere to stop global warming, and we’d be saved. That would be amazing.


By making Joss Whedon and Marvel their adversaries, they’re picking an unwinnable propaganda fight against stuff their base no doubt loves. Their tone deafness in this matter, coupled with the fact that it’s news about a TV show makes this a rare opportunity to write interestingly about such groups. Climate change is a slow, slow monster that probably won’t start killing us in impressive numbers for a hundred years, so the day-to-day narrative is boring as hell most of the time.

Rising Tide North America could have attracted positive attention to their cause if they hadn’t tried to compete with something fun. Environmentalists (myself included) need to cop to the fact that waving signs and buying hybrids isn’t cooler than a superhero. It sucks actually, but we just have to do it anyway.


More on environmental activisim gone wild:

The Environment: Getting Fucked Right in the Tree Hole

Idle No More is About the Environment, Too

Smugglers of Endangered-Species Meat Crash into Coral Reef