The one thing I noticed most about S.H.I.E.L.D., is that those who aren’t really exposed to them in the comics, yet are to the movies, have a misconception of just what it is they do. It was very evident by some of the “expectations” that came from Iron Man 3.
Let’s get the formalities out the way first. S.H.I.E.L.D. is Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate. Most of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s agents are normal humans. Some are supers, but for the most part they lean towards keeping tabs on those who have powers. In most cases S.H.I.E.L.D. will use the superhero community for backup if what they face is out of their league, they obtain help from independent heroes when their special abilities are needed.
S.H.I.E.L.D. is assumed to be a hierarchy of security clearance levels as their rank structure. The security-clearance hierarchy operates on a scale ranging from “Level One”, the lowest, to “Level Ten”. Nick Fury of course you can assume has the highest being the one man who has the most experience given the Infinity Serum he takes.
Now to get to the meat of this. S.H.I.E.L.D. deals in intelligence and security. They will not directly involve themselves in something that can be handled by a super. They will make sure they are capable, but they will not interfere unless it is a situation in which the whole world is in danger. They deal in situations in which they must take charge and they have ultimate authority over anything that threatens Earth. Yes, they do deal with terrorism, but in the case of Iron Man 3 that did not call for their attention. They did in fact keep an eye on Tony’s actions, but being a part of the Avengers Initiative, this was his fight.
S.H.I.E.L.D. are not cops, they are agents. If they acted against every act of villainy in the world then there would be no need for heroes. There are too many villains out there and if they went around scooping them up then they would put a target on their heads, which is not something an organization like them wants being that the public isn’t fully aware of their existence. Most of what they do is in the shadows unless there is a need for them to step out and take action. They are there to manage what is classified as threats which they can handle without causing a national incident or without the need of outside assistance.
When you ask, “Where is S.H.I.E.L.D.?”, remember that they are out there watching, but unless there is cause for them to step in they will be out there handling what they find to be more important.
And stay tuned!