Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ producers on ‘Winter Soldier’ impact
Chloe Bennet, Clark Gregg and Ming-Na Wen shoot a scene for Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
Director Roxann Dawson, second from left, talks with Clark Gregg, while script supervisor Dawn Gilliam, right, shows them the script. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
Chloe Bennet, left, as computer hacker Skye and Ming-Na Wen as agent Melinda May get last-minute touch-ups before shooting a scene. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
Clark Gregg, as agent Phil Coulson, films a scene inside the command center of the Bus. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
Between scenes, Clark Gregg shows Ming-Na Wen a recent press clipping on his phone. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
A camera operator focuses on Clark Gregg and Ming-Na Wen during filming. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
Ming-Na Wen, who plays agent Melinda May, watches a monitor on the set. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
Before a scene is shot, Clark Gregg's mike is adjusted as he talks to Chloe Bennet. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
Ming-Na Wen and Clark Gregg catch up on text messages while on the set. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet and Clark Gregg joke between scenes. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton and Chloe Bennet between scenes. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
Inside the command center are Brett Dalton, left, Chloe Bennet, Ming-Na Wen and Clark Gregg. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
Prop books on the set. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
Anyone who saw “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” this weekend — and judging from its record-breaking $96.2 million at the domestic box office, a lot of people did — couldn’t walk out of the film without wondering how the events in the blockbuster would likely affect the team over at ABC’s TV series “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (The spoiler-averse who haven’t yet seen “Winter Soldier” might want to stop reading now.)
The film adapts the famous 2005 “Winter Soldier” comic book story line by writer Ed Brubaker and illustrator Steve Epting and sees Chris Evans’ heroic Cap pursued by a lethal enemy from his past even as he begins to uncover a possible conspiracy at the headquarters of international espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D.
By the movie’s conclusion, Steve Rogers and his allies Natasha Romanoff, better known as Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Sam Wilson, the military strategist who takes flight as the Falcon (Anthony Mackie), have brought down the organization after discovering that it had been infiltrated by Hydra.
What that means for Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his roster of operatives — Ming-Na Wen’s Melinda May, Brett Dalton’s Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet’s Skye, Iain De Caestecker’s Leo Fitz and Elizabeth Henstridge’s Jemma Simmons — will be revealed in Tuesday’s episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” titled “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Expect the series to be radically reoriented as its first season heads into its final six episodes.
Last week, Hero Complex spoke with “S.H.I.E.L.D.” show runners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen to discuss the episode, the show’s significant presence on Twitter and the status of a possible Season 2.
Hero Complex: Is it fair to say that you had advance warning about the “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” story line?
Jed Whedon: With all the Marvel films, we see the scripts ahead of time. We try to have them affect our story in some way because we all live in the same universe and anything that happens in the show or in the movies affects the universe. This is a situation where there will be a ripple effect from the film into our show, and it’s something we’ve known about for a long time.
Maurissa Tancharoen: It’s a very unique opportunity for our show to be able to interweave with these huge Marvel movies. It’s something that not really any other show gets to do, and to be playing with these bigger threads, that’s something that we always knew from the outset that we’d be able to do. We were very mindful in the first part of the season to just introduce these new characters — they’re fresh new characters that weren’t even established in the comics — so we just wanted the audience to get to know our team for a little while before we started bringing in people like Lady Sif.
JW: All the Marvel properties have to exist and survive on their own — they can’t all be an “Avengers” movie. We had that hurdle of just establishing ourselves as our own entity with characters that were not established in the comics. Coulson had been established in the films, so we had a little groundwork to lay before we could start weaving everything together and really tying into the films and now here we are.
HC: Presumably, people do not need to have seen “Winter Soldier” to appreciate what happens in “Turn, Turn, Turn.” How difficult is it to write a story that acknowledges what happens in the film but also works on its own?
JW: It’s more difficult in certain situations. We want it to be rewarding if you have seen the [Marvel] films to see the show — we don’t want to restate everything you’ve seen in the movie — but we also want people who haven’t seen the movie to not miss a beat.
MT: It’s definitely a more gratifying experience if you are current on the show and you see “Captain America” and then you come back to our show for the rest of the season. It will definitely be a more rich experience. But that said, we’ve sort of established enough on our own for whatever sort of ripple effect that we deal with, there will be enough tension and enough drama that even if you don’t see “Captain America 2,” you’ll still, I think [find it rewarding].
HC: How did the ratings trajectory of the season impact you? It was a hit out of the gate, then its popularity dipped before the series managed to form a strong connection with a core viewership.
JW: We anticipated it a little bit… The Marvel flip at the top of the show has only been in front of movies that cost millions and millions and millions of dollars, so when you see it, there’s an expectation that you’re going to see a Marvel film. We knew from the get-go that this is a TV show and we can’t compete with the films but that we would be held up against them.
MT: And there was a faction of our audience who was expecting to see a Marvel comic character week after week. That was something that creatively wasn’t the intention of the show from the beginning. We were also welcoming in a new audience, a new ABC audience, people who have maybe never even read a Marvel comic or seen a Marvel movie, so we had to be very mindful of trying to have a broader appeal.
JW: It was sort of an exercise in expectations for us. We had those stand-alone stories at the top but we were planting seeds for things we knew were going to pay off later. We sort of just had to hold our breath and wait for people to see how it all played out. Now we’re happy to be in a stretch of the season where all those threads are kind of weaving together
MT: Because we operate in the same universe as the films, we’ve always been very respectful of what they’ve established in the movies and from the beginning of the show, the day we pitched the show to ABC, we knew what the Marvel films had planned. We always have to be in constant communication with them, and our plans have to reflect what their plans are. We just had to wait until a certain point to start bringing it all together.
JW: And to be respectful of their properties, which they’ve spent a lot of time energy and money making as popular as they are. Again, we had to establish ourselves as our own thing for it to have weight or meaning when we do tie in with the films.
HC: What can you say specifically about “Turn, Turn, Turn” and what’s ahead for the series as it nears the end of the season?
JW: We’re very proud of what we have coming up and excited for the audience to see how it shakes out.
HC: Where does the team find itself at the end of the episode?
MT: They are rattled and in a bit of a pickle.
HC: Both of you, along with the show’s cast, have been quite active on Twitter. Do you think that has helped increase the series’ popularity?
MT: As far as Jed and I are concerned, it’s sort of been the world that we live in as far as working on all of Joss [Whedon's] shows and projects like “Doctor Horrible” where it’s very much about the fan base and generating a relationship with that fan base. It’s kind of inherent to our creative process, I guess. The cast, they’re very active on Twitter. They like having a personal connection to the fans.
HC: There’s been no announcement regarding a second season of the show. Presumably, that’s something you’re hoping will happen?
JW: We’re planning on it happening. We’re cautiously optimistic and we’re generating stories.
MT: The way we wrap up the season, we tie up a lot of things as well as tee things up for a potential Season 2.
— Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex
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