ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D had an impressive WonderCon showing typically saved for San Diego Comic-Con. All of the integral cast, as well as showrunners, joined Marvel’s television head Jeph Loeb in Anaheim to tell fans why this upcoming final stretch of the season will be like nothing they’ve seen.
When we left this band of heroes, just about everyone was trapped in a virtual world called “The Framework”. Think of it as a take on Marvel’s own What-If series of comics but with actual consequences. We got a glimpse at who these characters could have become if one thing had changed in each of their lives.
It must be told that Ming-Na Wen is as tough in real life as her on-screen role agent Melinda May. The actress had recently injured herself on set while filming an episode of AoS last Thursday. She got around WonderCon in a wheelchair, perhaps it was from the painkillers but she was in good spirits about the accident alongside her co-star Jason O’Mara. According to Ming-Na, her character in the framework will somehow be less emotional and “all about revenge against the Inhumans because of the Cambridge incident.” When the show returns on April 4th fans won’t have to wait long to find out what exactly led to the war in the framework. Jason O’Mara’s character director Mace will have a twist in The Framework as well. The director leads the Inhuman resistance though it wasn’t confirmed if he is an actual Inhuman in the false reality. According to O’Mara we’re seeing Mace “in his purest form, a hero.”
The last part of the season also brings a virtual return of evil agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton). In The Framework, Daisy Johnson’s (Chloe Bennet) new existence includes a simple life with her first ship, agent Ward. Dalton was as surprised as the audience to get the phone call asking him to come back to the show, but along with showrunners Jed Wheadon and Maurissa Tancharoen agreed the Ward character has some life left even if it’s through unconventional means. Whedon also acknowledged the growing disconnect of Marvel TV and MCU. To him, S.H.I.E.L.D was always intended as its own entity and as the story universe of Marvel has grown AoS has tried to maintain a level of connection while keeping the vision intact. Both producers also teased more characters from the past will make a Framework appearance, but didn’t want to spoil exactly who.
On a season that’s introduced Ghost Rider and a new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, Natalia Cordova-Buckley’s “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez character has found her own groove with fans of the show. Though she hasn’t been formally approached, Natalia is hopeful there will be more stories exploring her character be it in a second digital exclusive series or on AoS. One of the other favorite characters of the series, “Mack” Mackenzie (Henry Simmons), will also surprise fans during this last AoS arc. He wouldn’t confirm that the bike he picked up in the last episode belonged to his child, he did say “the format has been torn to shreds this season and it feels new in many ways which will hopefully be entertaining for people to see and be surprised by.”
According to head of Marvel’s television Jeph Loeb, The Framework goes beyond the what-if premise the story is built on, “There will be repercussions and consequences these characters will have to deal with beyond if you die in The Framework you die in real life.” Let’s break that dreary thought up with a moment of levity from Chloe Bennet and Clark Gregg.
Clark, Loeb, and Bennet all felt this season of AoS has been equivalent to doing three seasons of any other show. At the beginning, AoS introduced Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider, and Loeb looks back on that SDCC now as feeling “like it was years ago” then the same season went into a –who can you trust mystery– with LMD, and will finish in this fringe. Also, it should be noted, fans who loved actor Gabriel Luna’s portrayal of Robbie Reyes may not have seen the last of him this season.
Team science, Fitz-Simmons, has surprises of their own. While Elizabeth Henstridge who plays Jemma Simmons couldn’t say anything in regards to where we see her as she goes John McClain in the Framework in order rescue everyone, Iain De Caestecker who plays Leo Fitz did talk about his alternate reality version. In the virtual world, we saw Fitz as a tech mogul using his prowess strictly for financial gain. As De Caestecker put it, his inspirations for alt-Fitz were an amalgamation of regime personalities but he would retain much of his character’s quirks. Fans might be most surprised, maybe even devastated at what becomes of the Fitz-Simmons ship in The Framework.
Marvel’s Agents of returns for its final stretch of the season this Tuesday, April 4th on ABC.