Marvel started their winning streak at San Diego Comic Con 2016 with their Netflix programming and continued it with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. After the panel, 4YE caught up with some of the cast and creative team to hear what is in store in season 4 with the new and old characters, how the show will adjust to its 10pm time slot, and whether FitzSimmons will ever get to be happy.
With filming having just begun, there was some question what AOS could really bring to Comic-Con. Ghost Rider and Gabriel Luna were the answer. “We searched high and far and wide and Gabe came in and just killed it,” executive producer Jeph Loeb said.
The decision to feature the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider was largely influenced by the character’s background as a young mechanic in LA and his relatively recent introduction to the Marvel comics. Not a lot of fans know Reyes, co-creator Jed Whedon said, which gives AOS the chance to tell his story the way they’ve done with many of the Inhumans.
The addition of Ghost Rider will allow the show to explore a new world, executive producer Jeff Bell said, one that may be familiar to fans very soon. With Doctor Strange hitting theaters later, audiences will get to know alternate realities in the MCU and that has opened the door for Ghost Rider on AOS.
Will Doctor Strange himself appear on the show? Ming-Na Wen would be delighted if he did. A huge Benedict Cumberbatch fangirl, she practically flailed when the idea was suggested by a reporter.
New, Later Time
The move to a later time slot caused some ripples of concern in the fandom but the cast and creators aren’t worried. In fact, they think it gives them more license to push the limits and find “new and interesting ways to tell stories,” said executive producer Jeffrey Bell. Clark Gregg, a big fan of Marvel’s Netflix Original Series, is excited for S.H.I.E.L.D. to get closer to the storytelling style of Marvel’s other shows. Loeb clarified AOS would never be as dark as say Daredevil, but there is definitely room to grow.
Coulson, Director No More
In the final scene of season 3, we clearly see Coulson is no longer Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Many fans assumed this meant Wen’s Melinda May had taken charge (as she rightfully should), but the actress isn’t so sure. She thinks May took some much needed time off to recover from the trauma of losing her ex-husband Andrew (twice).
Gregg doesn’t see the return to field work as a demotion for Coulson, who he believes has always been proud to be a field agent. “His first name is once again just Agent,” he joked. When S.H.I.E.L.D. finally comes out of the shadows completely (and into the light?), the government won’t want a career S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in charge anyway, Gregg thinks.
As for Coulson stepping down from the Director’s position, Wen thinks May is probably relieved. “She had to keep her eye on him all the time and help him,” she joked. Iain De Castecker chimed in to say May was the “real brains behind the operation.”
But in all seriousness, Wen says May was worried about Coulson as the Director because of the toll it was taking on him. “I think she saw how it was tearing him apart because he had to make really tough decisions and tough choices and it kind of brought him to a much darker side and I don’t think she wants him to go to that place like she did,” she said.
Daisy and the Inhumans
When season 3 ended Daisy lost another man in her life and responded by breaking off from S.H.I.E.L.D. completely. Admitting the past few years had been “rough” for Daisy, Chloe Bennet believes one of the major motivators for Daisy’s actions is empathy. She is protecting the team and punishing herself by leaving, Bennet said. Whedon added Daisy is trying to live up to Lincoln’s belief in her. But being on her own is bad for Daisy’s mental and physical health and we’ll see her grow weaker from failing to care for herself.
Bennet teased the return of Daisy’s dad, Cal, as well, saying she felt that his presence was strongly implied in the season 3 finale.
With Ghost Rider roaring onto AOS, the Inhuman plot that has informed so much of the last three seasons may take a bit of a back seat. But not too far back. As a strongly established part of AOS, the Inhumans aren’t going anywhere. “We have a nice group of Inhumans to call upon if we need them,” said co-creator Maurissa Tacheron.
Ship Status Report
FitzSimmons – The beautiful, bickering science nerds finally got together last season and will hopefully be going strong in season 4. Executive producer Maurissa Tancharoen and Whedon specifically avoided manufacturing more obstacles to keep the pair apart. They knew doing so would only anger fans rather than keep them happily suspenseful. “We didn’t want to keep them apart for too long,” Tancharoen said. But that’s no guarantee the couple will be happy from here on out, not with the kind of curve balls AOS likes to throw.
“They definitely have a lot of love for each other,” De Castecker said, mentioning that the friendship between the two characters will help keep their relationship strong too. Elizabeth Henstridge echoed that sentiment adding fans will get to see how the pair navigate their relationship as new, potentially divisive situations arise.
But on the other hand, Bennet joked, “Have you seen the Game of Thrones? You know the sex scenes on there? It’s just like that.”
YoYoMack – Everyone wants more of Elena, including Henry Simmons. He’s hoping for more development with the blossoming relationship between the super speedy Inhuman and Mack. Both Loeb and Bell are enthusiastic about bringing Elena back so fingers crossed!
Huntingbird – And what of Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter? With Marvel’s Most Wanted officially a no-go, could their characters return to AOS or even another Marvel property? “Nothing’s impossible,” Loeb teased.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns September 30 on ABC at 10pm/9pm CT.
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