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I always thought S.H.I.E.L.D to be a clandestine organisation, claiming autonomy from any specific state or sovereignty, but the Agents of SHIELD episode 'The Asset' has thrown some doubt over whether this is true in Marvel's Cinematic Universe (i.e. Earth-199999, MCU).

SHIELD is denied operational privileges in Malta for some undisclosed reason, attributed to being unable or unwilling to start a conflict.

Is this potential war inferred to be directly with SHIELD? if so, how could a government start a conflict against a clandestine organisation?

Does this mean that SHIELD's actions can be attributed to a specific state, or are they considered to be working towards pan-Global interest? if the latter, why would Malta refuse to acknowledge their authority?

The series seems to indicate that SHIELD is representative of a select group of interests, whereas previous entries set in the MCU presented them as working against intergalactic threats (largely incorporating the responsibilities of S.W.O.R.D in the 616), for the benefit of the survival of humanity in its broadest definition. I'm sure Guardians of the Galaxy will be in some way a commentary of this.

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Aren't they accountable to The World Security Council as seen in the Avengers movie? –  Meat Trademark Jan 20 at 20:49
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Put it into an answer! –  John Smith Optional Jan 20 at 20:56
    
I keep running into you! Are there really only like ten people on this site? We've both hit the Rep points cap. Where are all the movie geeks?! –  Meat Trademark Jan 21 at 11:38
    
@MeatTrademark I'd say site activity has stalled quite a bit since the new year anyway, but this might just be a subjective impression. –  Sonny Burnett Jan 21 at 13:28
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I've long held the opinion that due to some bizarre pedantry inherent to M&TV, we're one of the fastest stacks to scare people off. it might well go hand in hand with the fact that M&TV is particularily susceptible to 'identify this' questions, but I think we should make every effort to welcome people to the site, even if they are posting wrong, instead of just shutting people down. –  John Smith Optional Jan 21 at 13:38

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

In the movie The Avengers, Agent Fury is seen receiving instructions and orders from The World Security Council.

The World Security Council are an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace. The Council is comprised of several middle aged/elderly men and women.

Fury directly disobeys them in regards to nuking New York City during the attack, but nonetheless seem accountable to this group.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is controlled by the Council. The Council communicates with S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury using several large plasma screens, each one displaying one of their faces. They are seen disagreeing with Fury's decisions during the Battle of New York. The World Security Council had at least one override command that they used during the Battle of New York to override Fury's orders and sent two jets to launch a nuclear missile at New York, one as a decoy to distract Fury long enough for the other jet to make it's [sic] escape and send the missile off.

(Both quotes taken from WSC link above.)

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UPDATE as of 04/14: No verifiable information is available re: the infiltration of HYDRA in the upper echelon of the WSC. –  Meat Trademark May 1 at 6:06

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