by Brett White
ABC’s upfront presentation has already produced news about “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” most notably that the show is going to be great. Access Hollywood and IGN caught up with actors Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), Ming-Na Wen (Agent May) and Elizabeth Henstridge (Agent Simmons), as well as producer Jeffrey Bell (“Angel”). The actors were all tight-lipped about the series, of course, but the video is still worth watching if only to see just how excited these actors are to enlist with S.H.I.E.L.D. Ming-Na’s even busted out her boxing equipment!
“[J. August Richards] killed it! He’s so good. He’s so good, because we were looking for this character M– I almost said his name. It’s not the one people are talking about…”
“I’m going to say that’s an interesting Marvel character,” says Bell about Luke Cage, “but no. But [J. August Richards ] came in and killed it. Honestly, we were looking for this part, and we just said, ’look, all our parts are open to all diversity.’ So the fact that we have a black dude who is awesome and it’s J, was just because he was the best actor. It wasn’t like, ’You know who…!'”
Bell was then asked if we’ll see superpowered characters like Richards’ mystery man every week.
“J’s a guest star in it, and we talk about it like this: If you take all the Marvel movies, really only Captain America and the Hulk are the only real ’superheroes’ in all those movies. You’ve got an alien god, but in all those movies, there’s been, like, three [superheroes]. So if we trot out a superhero every week, it would be weird. But we’re saying the world is different and things are changing, so we will be finding other people — so whether it’s science or whether it’s a result of [what happened in] New York or whether they’re from somewhere else, we’re open to everything. Whatever makes cool stories.”
Now, I’m still excited for “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” don’t get me wrong. I have faith in Joss, for sure. Everything we’ve seen so far has made me dizzy with excitement; seriously, this much “S.H.I.E.L.D.” excitement this week surely isn’t good for me. But I have a tiny bone to pick with a lot of television’s previous super shows, and these quotes make me worried that “S.H.I.E.L.D.” is going to follow suit.
That picked bone is this: because of budget restraints and the grind of producing 20+ episodes a season, television adaptations of superheroes rarely include actual comic book characters. Most weeks the heroes fight gang members, henchmen for crooked politicians or plan ol’ bullies, or original characters with weird, low-budget powers. From what I’ve heard second-hand, “Smallville” got over this towards the end of it’s run, but I remember watching “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” as a kid and being bummed out that there were never any actual DC characters on the show outside of the Daily Planet staff.
I trust Joss and company, so if Richards’ character is totally new for the show then… that’s fine. It won’t make the show horrible or any less of an achievement (the fact that Marvel will have a primetime, major network drama on the air for the first time in over 30 years makes this a success). But why not give fans Luke Cage or Rage? Especially since their powersets are firmly within a TV show’s budget? We already have a cast of completely new characters instead of existing S.H.I.E.L.D. officers, can’t we at least get some cool cameos, especially for characters that make sense to exist in this world? Geez, you can have human Marvel Universe characters like Stevie Hunter or Foggy Nelson on the show for all I care. That’d still be ridiculously cool.
The show will still feel like a Marvel show even if we only get a handful of actual Marvel characters per season, because Whedon’s proven that he knows the feel of the comics inside and out. But I want it to feel like a Marvel show, you know? Give us the goods.