Another year, another season of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. After a mixed third season, we look forward to seeing what the Marvel/ABC show has in store for us with their announcement of Ghost Rider coming to Season 4. With a third season jam-packed with nine leading cast members, the fourth season cuts everything down back to a manageable size. Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, and Henry Simmons returned this year at San Diego Comic-Con alongside executive producers Jeph Loeb, Jeff Bell, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Jed Whedon.
Jeff Bell spoke a little bit about the direction the show would take now that there is a new director coming into the mix, and now that Coulson is no longer the director. “We love Coulson from Iron Man, we love the guy who goes out and talks his way out of anything, we like him boots on the ground going into anything, and as the director sometimes there was conflict.” Looks like we won’t be seeing Coulson straddle the line anymore. Jeph Loeb hinted at a new agenda now that there is a new director, however, there wasn’t much detail on where he’d stand.
Loeb and Bell remained tight-lipped on any classic Inhuman characters that might appear as well as what kind of antagonists we’d see this season. And in regards to the later time slot allowing for a bit more freedom in content, Loeb casually replied, “We’re not making Deadpool anytime soon.”
Of course, after three seasons of seeing different iterations of Brett Dalton’s Grant Ward, the first question jokingly posed to Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon was how they’d bring him back this time. And while Whedon said, “There’s always that possibility,” this last iteration of Ward/Hive feels more permanent than previously.
What wasn’t permanent was the departure of Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood, who played Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter, their characters were written off for their own spin-off, Marvel’s Most Wanted, however with the spin-off shelved for the foreseeable future, it seems that that option is more open than seeing Dalton or Luke Mitchell coming back anytime soon. Whedon cryptically says, “Once an agent, always an agent.”
Again, both Whedon and Tancharoen comment on the freedom of getting to work with more Inhuman storylines after Marvel removed the Inhumans movie from their slate, as well as getting access to some classic characters. There’s also an introduction of magic this season, in regards to the arrival of Ghost Rider, and with Marvel releasing Doctor Strange, is it possible we’ll see some sort of mystical tie-in when we get closer to the release?
The two ex-directors of SHIELD sat down to talk to us about their characters’ new partnership after Coulson’s loss of his position as director. “It makes sense to me,” Clark Gregg said, in regards to gaining Mack as his new partner after Daisy runs off. “The partnership is starting at a great place of mutual respect,” Henry Simmons added.
After the emotional obstacle course that Coulson was jumping through in season three, we talked a little bit about how that’s affected Gregg’s interpretation of the character and the role. “I never thought I’d get to go on this in depth roller coaster with this ensemble of incredible actors,” he also went on to talk about the evolution of his character and where we see him come the beginning of the new season.
It’s up-in-the-air what we’ll see in store with the new director of SHIELD, especially having to manage two ex-directors who are teaming up together. And with a show like this, it could really go any direction, but at least some there are some constants we can count on, namely shotgun-axe.
With the changing of the guard within SHIELD, Ming-Na Wen and Iain de Caestecker’s Melinda May and Leopold Fitz potentially have a new position to play this season. “The dynamic of SHIELD has changed,” de Caestecker teased. He suggested the idea that Fitz might have a hand in the project with the Life Model Decoys.
“We are rebuilding in a different way. We’re trying to learn from the mistakes that shield has made in the past,” Wen added, in regards to the difference of SHIELD since season three. However, when it came to what May’s position would be now that Coulson is not Director, Wen evaded expertly, encouraging us to tune in and find out.
And of course, we had to ask about how they’re getting on after the loss of cast members Brett Dalton and Luke Mitchell in that emotional finale. De Caestecker joked that “it’s really sad, but you know what, I’m getting over it.” But it seems like the cast is still close, and Wen added that with the finale and the Hydra and Hive storyline being tied up, season four can start on a clean slate.
And after an explosive final scene for Daisy Johnson, Chloe Bennet talked about us seeing a familiar version of her character again in season four. “She’s weirdly, kind of, gone back to her old ways of being Skye, and being a loner.” After losing Lincoln, she’s going to be in mourning and trying to separate herself from the group. With the new look, Bennet commented that Daisy is a chameleon, perhaps especially this season as she cycles through disguises. “She’s always changing. Skye is not really a person built in stability.”
With the will-they-won’t-they of FitzSimmons finally put to rest and finally seeing the two together, there’s a new fear of what might draw the two apart this coming season. “We’re going to see them facing challenges,” Elizabeth Henstridge said, discussing the reality of television and how we’d undoubtedly see some challenges for the couple moving forward. “You get so attached to these characters and I would just love for them to be happy!”
And, as with Ming-Na Wen and Iain de Caestecker, we had to ask about the departure of their two co-stars after the emotional finale. “It’s really hit us today, this is the first time ever without Brett Dalton, and Luke was with us last year!” Elizabeth Henstridge exclaimed remorsefully. However, again, this seems to be a new chapter for the cast as Chloe Bennet adds, “It feels like a new show, this comic con feels more like season one.” With a clean cut ending set up from season three, we are definitely looking towards a new chapter of SHIELD.
A lot of things are still in question for the fourth season of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. In many ways, turning the show into something that feels brand new could help bring in newer viewers at a later hour, but in other ways, it erases a lot of momentum built up from the previous seasons. Readers of my recaps know that I’ve been on the fence with the show’s uneven third season, but will SHIELD redeem itself this fall?
Tune into ABC on September 20th at 10pm to find out!