Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. EPs Jeph Loeb & Jeffrey Bell Look Back at Season 1

Now that the first season’s wrapped, hear from 2 of the minds behind the hit series!

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“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” just concluded their first season with more twists, turns and epic payoffs than you can shake a Koenig lanyard at!

While you’re still reeling from the season finale, we had the chance to chat with two of the show’s Executive Producers, Jeffrey Bell and Jeph Loeb, about how the season ended, how it began, and even a little bit of what’s next!

So ***SPOILER WARNING*** for anyone who hasn’t seen the season finale of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” yet—but for those of you who have, read on while you continue to process the full impact of this season’s conclusion!

Coulson and his team

Marvel.com: Now that you’ve reached the end of the season, would you say that it shaped up in much the same way you originally envisioned?

Jeffrey Bell: We knew where we wanted to end the show from early in the season. And we knew that we had to play a lot of our story cards down until “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” We’re grateful that people liked the way that the show is resolving. Some things we couldn’t have predicted, like the character of Raina. Ruth Negga showed up and we just fell in love with her and found ways to use her beyond our initial conception, and that was terrific. Bill Paxton’s portrayal of the Clairvoyant was more awesome than we could have ever imagined, and so we leaned into him whenever possible. We had no sense really of how people would react or how Brett would do when we revealed [Ward’s] true nature, and the way people have reacted to his character and the performance that Brett Dalton has done for that has been beyond our imagination.

What we did expect, and what we were grateful for, was our other actors just being fantastic. Clark [Gregg] leading the way [with] Ming-Na [Wen, with] their relationship and the complexity that was there. Taking Coulson from a company man to a man without a company to a man without anything, and yet him having hope, the whole thing was pretty terrific. Watching Skye and Fitz and Simmons--not just as new actors, but as characters that didn’t have a lot of field experience--grow and develop and mature and become S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that we believe you understand and accept as worthy of being S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. I think all those have been gratifying, and the things I talked about earlier were bonus.

Jeph Loeb: And then on the other side, on the Marvel side, it was an incredibly exciting year. This was our first live action television series ever. We had a huge hand up with Joss Whedon coming onboard at the beginning, a spectacular cast led by Clark Gregg, who brought a humanity and a power to his role that was delightful and everything that we could want and more. We were a big giant show that went up against the two biggest shows on network television, “NCIS” and “The Voice,” and held our own. And in the current climate of television, that is an extraordinary achievement. I think everybody, but in particular the cast, the producers--Jeff, Jed [Whedon], Maurissa [Tancharoen], Garry Brown--and an extraordinary writing staff...just cheers, and if I was Oprah I’d buy them all a new car. But I’m not Oprah.

Marvel.com: You guys said that you knew where you were going to end, which I assume means you knew that by the end of the season Coulson would be building a new S.H.I.E.L.D. Where did that idea originate, and why did you feel like that was  the natural next step for Coulson’s character?

Jeffrey Bell: Well, on one hand it was very practical. We are called “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Two, we exist in the Marvel movie universe, and we were talking with Kevin Feige and the people over there through the course of the season because when we began they were letting us play in their universe, which we were very grateful for. And we also knew that their movie Captain America happened in the middle [of the season], where S.H.I.E.L.D. was falling apart.

Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May

So as we look forward past that, one of the things we realized was it was a great opportunity. Because it’s very hard to make a show about an omnipotent organization that can tap every cell phone in the world and make it sound like [they’re] an underdog. But the roots of S.H.I.E.L.D. and what S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for, protection--whether it’s of individuals or a country or the planet--is something that I think everyone can relate to. So [in giving] Couslon, a man we believe has integrity and hard won wisdom, the mandate to rebuild it seemed cool because we could build S.H.I.E.L.D. as an underdog organization that didn’t have tons of resources, and they could build it with Coulson’s sensibility. We felt that was good storytelling. We thought it provided a lot of opportunities for our characters to truly be underdogs, and then to keep S.H.I.E.L.D. going in a new incarnation kept it firmly in the Marvel world.

Marvel.com: Looking at the season finale, you gave us a lot of really great resolutions to some of the bigger mysteries and subplots, such as the Clairvoyant and Mike Peterson’s arc. But you also set up some great teases for Skye and Coulson. Moving into Season 2, will those storylines continue to take the space they did in the first season, as subplots, or will they drive the larger story?

Jeffrey Bell: That’s a really great question, [laughs] in the Marvel parlance. I don’t want to talk too much about next season right now. I don’t want to get too specific, but I would say that the things you mentioned will definitely be considered.

Jeph Loeb: We’re telling a serialized story about a group of agents who are at an organization which is corrupt, broken and labeled by the world as a terrorist organization. Where they go, what they do, who’s going to stay, who lives, who dies, all those things are what make the possibility of another season incredibly exciting.

Marvel.com: I felt like the Ward plotline could’ve gone one of two ways in the finale, in either giving him a moment of redemption or not, but I think it was the more daring creative choice you guys made to not give that to him here. When you were first imagining him even back when creating the pilot, did you always know that at his core he would be this--I don’t want to say bad guy, but a guy who was very vulnerable and led astray by Garrett? And where did the decision to not give him that redemptive moment here come from?

Jeffrey Bell: We knew from the beginning that he was a spy. We say in the pilot, “we haven’t seen scores like this since Romanoff.” We didn’t think of him as evil or bad, but he was a spy with an agenda. As it went along and as we liked what was happening with Skye and Ward, we loved that there was a vulnerability and an emotional attachment that he couldn’t control or couldn’t have predicted. And the thing that we also love, that we frankly couldn’t have predicted, was the bromance between Fitz and Ward that also exists off camera between Brett and Iain [De Caestecker]. They hang out, they really like each other. Building those relationships on camera for those characters, which we believe were genuine, made Ward a much more complicated, much more interesting character, so that when he did have to make some hard calls at the end you felt that his personal pain. You felt him torn in many ways between his father figure of Garrett and these people he had built a family with. Whether he’s redeemable or not, I don’t think we’ve answered.

Ward and Garrett

Jeph Loeb: What’s great about the Marvel Universe is the complexity of our villains. It has always been this way. The Winter Soldier has done far more horrible things than Ward has done, at least as far as we know, and yet we’re rooting for him and he is a hero in the Marvel Universe. You can go to Wolverine, you can go to the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver who started out as villains. Magneto has played both sides of the field. This is a tradition in the Marvel Universe. There are people out there even now rooting for Ward. And that’s extraordinary, and that’s a testament to terrific writing and a great performance by Brett Dalton. So where he winds up? Hold onto your seats.

Marvel.com: Another character I wanted to touch on, which Jeff, you talked about earlier, was Raina--or Flowers, as Garrett affectionately calls her. That final tease gives us the idea that she has a much larger connection to some of the characters on the series. As you were developing her character, what was it about her that struck you guys as a character you wanted to keep around?

Jeffrey Bell: It was interesting, even breaking the story [of the episode in which she debuted], it was going to be called “Scorch.” It was about this poor guy who was sort of caught in the machinations of the Centipede program. By the time we had shot it, we changed its name to “The Girl in the Flower Dress.” Ruth brought a unique curiosity and fascination to the character. What we loved about Raina is [she’s] is fascinated with special people. She didn’t judge them as good or bad in the way that most people did, she was just interested in what made each person unique. Whether she was torturing Coulson in episode 11, or trying to pull Ward away from Garrett or getting Quinn to come to her side, she’s looking for what’s special, because her secret, which we’re now learning, is she also believes she’s special. And there’s something about her that connects with Skye and with some of these other special people.nWe haven’t articulated what that meant, but as a character who had an empathy and an ability to talk people into doing things, it’s a pretty unique character.

I don’t remember exactly whose idea it was, but giving her all those different flowered dresses felt very much like she belonged in the Marvel comics universe. She was a character that we created, but can’t you see her in a comic? You have a panel and you see a piece of fabric with a flower pattern on it, and you widen and reveal it’s Raina? We started introducing her character that way. We’d tell our directors, you don’t have to have her walk in, you can catch part of her flowered pattern in the mirror, in a reflection, walking past, because we thought there was something beautifully iconic about that. I don’t know, she just felt like this very rich comic book character who had those beautiful eyes and was such a terrific performer who always made a surprising choice in how she played scenes.

I loved in episode, 21, where she’s having a scene with Deathlok and here’s this big, very strong, “I can crush your head like a grape” going up and saying, “do they have control of you? Are they doing this to you?” She just turned around and she didn’t say defensively “no,” she just pushes back with “no.” She has this [inner] strength. It was such a surprising choice to me. She’s done that all season. We love her as a character and hope to continue finding stories for her in the future.

Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson

Marvel.com: Wrapping up, what are some of your highlights from the first season?

Jeph Loeb: For me, it really is the beginnings and the endings. The first time the cast was together on the pilot, we were all there--Jeff, Jed, Maurissa, Garry, Joss. It was just, “Ok, we’re alive! We have a pulse!” The flipside of it was on the last night--and the coincidence, because it’s not often this way, [that] the last shot of the season was the last shot of the season. Being able to be there with the cast and the crew, and again it was one of those things where a lot of the cast members had what’s called “shot out,” they had finished what they had done for the episode and could’ve gone to the four corners of the galaxy. Instead they were there, and we’ve become a very closeknit family. Much like any Marvel project, there’s something that happens when you start playing with these characters, and that, for me personally, has been the most rewarding thing of the entire experience.

Jeffrey Bell: Now anything I say will sound superficial, because that was a perfect answer. [laughs] It is true, we’re fortunate we have a cast and crew and writing staff and post-production team around us where everyone likes each other, is good at what they do and are passionate about it. That makes going to work a joy. Personal highlights were the first time I saw the plane fly. You have to understand, we do things and our actors pretend. Then when visual effects get done, sometimes even to us as the magicians, seeing the trick pulled off is delightful. The first time I saw the Bus flying through these beautiful clouds and the sunset, we all looked at each other and started laughing, because we thought, “Ok, this is going to work.”

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16 comments
wangyangyang
wangyangyang

Is everybody know when is will update?

moonspiderine
moonspiderine

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is only a thing made for childrens by Mickey Mouse, and made only for money, but this show is the only good thing. IT'S THE BEST SHOW EVER!

empyrius
empyrius

Why do I feel like Coulson?


Hmmmmm . . . .


JvonAvni
JvonAvni member

Mind blown, KILLER ending for an amazing show, the wait for the 2nd season is gonna be more torturous for me than it was waiting for the Deadpool's wedding issue, and possibly more than it'll be for the "Death of Wolverine"

anyways, gonna get real cheesy now... MAKE MINE MARVEL!!! (cinematic universe as well!) 'NUFF SAID!

fresnobill314
fresnobill314

Thank you, Marvel.  You rewarded us who stayed with the show from the very beginning.  "Director Coulson"  was the cherry on top on the cake.  I'm really looking forward to where the show will take us in Season 2.  Great job!  It's going to be a long summer.

xBYNx
xBYNx

My one wish for this show is for marvel to stop trying to cater to everyone. One thing that worried me when Disney acquired Marvel is that everything would become "family orientated". And mirror the Disney Pixar formula. I get with certain characters you have to have that. But IMO marvel is starting to inject TO MUCH campy misplaced humor into their movies and this show. That's one of the reasons I believe this series struggled to find it's way this year.

Everyone doesn't read comic books or care about them. But Marvel's fan base does.That is your bread and butter. And they will support you and tune in as long as stories have substance and quality. And so will your average TV viewer. A great show is a great show. Hero's proved that. There's a reason why that show was so beloved by comic fans and average viewers. Its because it had an interesting characters and compelling story that pushed buttons. AOS could learn something from that.

I would like to see more of a "serious tone" moving forward. with AOS.

beeaey
beeaey

Pretty interesting conversation between Garrett and Raina in the season finale..



GARRETT: The drug didn’t just strengthen my body. It gave me clarity of mind. It gave me a vision of the world that’s waiting beneath the surface of this world. You don’t think that’s mad, do you? You know exactly what I’m talking about. You always have.


RAINA: I have no allegiance to Hydra, Centipede, Cybertek,….you. I was only interested in..


GARRETT: Evolution. You know we’re prehistoric creatures oozing out of the swamps, through the mist, clawing our way onto land so we can finally stand, or plant roots, or fly.


RAINA: Exactly. I was saddened to learn you weren’t clairvoyant. I had a question I didn’t get to ask, but now…


GARRETT: Now the truth is written on the back of my eyes. So, go ahead, flowers. Ask.


RAINA: What will I become?




I SMELL A KREE/INHUMAN ARC!!! Probably a slow burn right now; we might see it happening after Age of Ultron. 


platypus686
platypus686 member

I laughed so much when Garret died. That moment was right up there with the Hulk smashing Loki.

davidtysonwhite9300
davidtysonwhite9300 member

@moonspiderine What?  This show is a way for them to keep you thinking about marvel between movies. On a scale of Zero to Captain America, Agents of Sheild comes in somewhere around Stilt Man. 

davidtysonwhite9300
davidtysonwhite9300 member

@xBYNx I agree with a lot of this, and it's great to see someone else not just  saying "this show is the best show ever," like some of the fans who seem to be hugely emotionally invested in characters that have very little depth so far.  Because even for people who like it, it's clearly not that great of a show. It had a strong begininning, a decent ending, and a whole lot of dragging plot in the middle. I'll probably keep watching because it could improve, but it sort of felt like they didn't know what they wanted the show to be.   Also on "Heroes", I can remember being just as frustrated with that show. I really wanted to like it, but It had a lot of plotlines that never really payed off. I liked the overall tone of the show, but the characters all kind of seemed like they were written by children.  No understanding of emotion, and flip -flopping personalities and allegiances, like the worst comics of the 90s. I'm a good guy. No I'm a bad guy.  No I'm a good guy again, all in a very short period of time. 

Alto1st
Alto1st

@xBYNx  I feel like we got more of a serious tone as the season developed without losing the humor.

xBYNx
xBYNx

@davidtysonwhite9300 @xBYNx  I can see that about Heros.....I wasn't on the band wagon initially. I think I watched a random episode one day and ended up watching from the beginning. But given the fact there were no superhero themed shows at that time. They did a really good with the story I think. The only season that really suffered was that short season because of the writers strike. And by the time season 3 came around people had started to lose interest and the show was doomed unfortunately. Even though they came back with a strong season.

Regarding Marvel...I just hope they pay attention to this. I want them to stop insulting our intelligence with weak stories,cliches and filler thinking viewers won't notice and stop watching. You can please some people with eye candy (gratuitous violence and action). But having all of that without purpose for those elements to take place is useless.Case in point Amazing Spiderman 2.

This movie will make money. I'm sure Sony and the producers will think it's because they put together a fantastic film,when really it isn't. They've ruined this reboot. I was never really a fan of Sam Raimi's versions. But in comparison to these films. They don't hold a candle to his. They are superior on every level. Story, acting, action direction everything.

Sony's trying to copy Marvel by trying to establish their own cinematic universe. And as a result they sacrificed character development and substance to the story for this second film. Just to establish the ground work for this sinister six team up.

Did you enjoy spiderman 2?

xBYNx
xBYNx

@Alto1st @xBYNx I agree to a certain degree alto....I still a feel a bit let down by these last six episodes. and the finale A few episodes were intense....but most were bland to me. Once they introduced the alien I thought things were going to get far more interesting. The Hydra thing was an awesome idea but I think it was poorly implemented because it happens so abruptly. And part of that probably has more to do with Captain America 2.


I'm guessing the producers of AOS were probably not fully aware that was going to happen until already well into shooting the show. So since this would affect their story arc drastically. I think the writing and direction suffered a bit in the process. Why do people like Breaking Bad,Game of thrones, Walking Dead, Hero's ETC. Great writing that's the foundation.


There's no cheesy humor in any of these shows that seems out of place. With marvel.....AOS that happens constantly. Marvel seems to have this as a requirement. And That hurts the show IMO. What shield does is serious business. And the tone should be that way. With occasional funny scenarios when it's called for. That's pressure from marvel for the show to be campy at times. Or maybe its Joss Whedon's Buffy influence. I don't know.


But I don't like it. It makes the tone of the show kind of cheesy. And that's why I think the ratings suffered throughout the course of this season. ABC is not going to give up on this show. Because the Marvel brand is to lucrative. But they better get this next season right. Or people will lose interest. 


Do you prefer the show with the campy humor Alto?



xBYNx
xBYNx

@davidtysonwhite9300 @xBYNxWell said David! Sam Raimi definitely messed up Spiderman 3. But I don't fully blame him for it. I think most of that was SONY. They realized they had a lucrative property. And they tried to maximize profitability hoping to churn out sequels. By trying to do one every other year. But the problem is Sam I believe said after the second one. That he didn't see where they could  really go for a third. And he didn't want to just keep making these movies because they are successful at the expense of sacrificing story. 

He didn't want this to become a machine. And neither did Toby. So I think under pressure from SONY...he kind of through something together to make this his last hoorah.And satisfy SONY's shareholders desire for another cash grab at the box office. And it showed. It still made a huge amount of money.But most fans who loved the first two universally hated the third one. Me included.


I read a recent interview where he said he wanted to come back for a fourth. Because he felt so bad about the way the third one came out. But SONY had given him a deadline to green light a fourth. Otherwise they'd move forward with the reboot. He had something.....but it wasn't up to his standards so he pulled out. And SONY moved forward and now we have the reboot.


I think Avi Arad is mostly to blame. There's a reason why he's no longer working with marvel. They found a director in Marc Webb who is probably being guided in a certain direction. And being forced to include certain elements in this reboot to set up other spin off properties. Which I'm guessing is why he probably won't come back after the third one. Avi doesn't care about Spiderman....he's a company man. Pushing SONY'S financial interests because they feel they have a cash cow with Spiderman. 

Sony as a company is hemorrhaging money left and right right now. Expecting even higher Potential losses than were forecasted earlier this year. Possibly an additional 400 million in losses on top of what they thought they'd lose. But if they keep putting out weak products they are going to ruin their brand in Spiderman. I DO NOT CARE about Amazing Spiderman 3 at this point. I'm done.


If your into videogames....Sony is the Activision of movies right now. IE Call of Duty. Fans of this series have been getting the same gaming experience for the last ten years. It's redundant at this point. Add some new weapons and add as much eye candy as you can.Same old game engine same old experience.  And the mindless masses will accept it and support it. I haven't purchased That game Since modern warfare 3. Because I refuse to keep buying the same game.


But most people don't pickup on patterns like me or you. I guess they are to unaware enough to notice or just don't care. I'll keep spending sixty dollars on the same game lol. I'm sorry I can't be a sheep. I'd like to think most people would want something stimulates your mind from a movie. Or a gaming experience that innovates and evolves. I know I went off topic.....but I had to make that comparison. Hopefully it made some since if your a gamer as well as a comic film guy lol.

davidtysonwhite9300
davidtysonwhite9300 member

@xBYNx @davidtysonwhite9300 I totally agree.  I've mentioned some of this stuff in other threads and it's surprising how many people take it personally as if they have a personal stake in whether I like it or not.  It's pretty crazy.  I'm a lifelong marvel fan and I find it insulting when they just put things out knowing they have a built in audience who will watch it no matter what.  To be honest I haven't watched Amazing 2. I didn't hate the first one, it just was nothing new or even fun.  making characters darker when they're supposed to be goofy and nerdy doesn't make them better.  It's just a sign of executives saying "Kids like cool.  Make him cool".  There's nothing relatable about this version.  I'd say they might as well give him a skateboard and backwards hat, but they already did the former.  I loved Raimi's version, but he lost me with the last one.  Toby Mcguire was exactly who I imagined spiderman to be, but the emo hair and dancing was too much.