Cast Widescreen

Source: Marvel Entertainment.

Finally, the day has come. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuts tonight on ABC.

I'm a huge fan of the Marvel comics and movies, so you can expect me to be glued to the set when the show airs at 7 p.m. here in the Rocky Mountains. Millions of others will no doubt join me.

However, I'll be tuning in more as an investor in Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) than as a fan. Why? I've already seen the pilot episode. Creator Joss Whedon graciously gave those of us who attended the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel discussion at San Diego Comic-Con an advance screening.

Thus, I have the benefit of teasing a couple of things to watch for in tonight's pilot without giving away any plot points. Specifically:

1. Tie-ins: Look for references to the movies. There are at least two big ones that I can remember: one from Iron Man 3 and the other from Marvel's The Avengers. Whedon appears to be playing with ways to expand the Marvel universe while also appealing to the sort of TV viewer who watches the USA Network's Covert Affairs or who in years past might have watched another ABC hit, Alias, which helped establish J.J. Abrams' bona fides more than a decade ago.

2. Unanswered questions: Subplots and parallel storylines not only make for great TV, they also allow for franchise building. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. features a huge subplot that could take multiple seasons to unwind. That's a great setup, and suggests Whedon has Marvel and Disney thinking of the show as much more than a platform for introducing new characters.

Will you be watching tonight? How well you do you expect the show to fare in the ratings war with CBS' (NYSE:CBS) hit drama NCIS? Mark Harmon's team of Navy investigators generally draw 19 million to 21 million viewers per episode. Leave your predictions or thoughts in the comments box below.

Sources: ABC, Marvel.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Walt Disney at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home and portfolio holdings or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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