Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Bosses on How to Make the Marvel Universe Relatable
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. | Photo Credits: ABC
A Norse God. A flying billionaire in an iron suit. A man frozen in time. A giant green rage monster. These are just a few of the characters that Marvel has somehow made relatable throughout its films. But now, in their quest to bring that same magic to TV, ABC will attempt to get the fanboys, fangirls and the uninitiated to tune in for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
On the TV show, which airs Tuesday at 8/7c on ABC, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles a select group of agents to form the worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. — Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division — which investigates strange and unknown occurrences around the globe. The team includes Agents Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) and Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), scientists Fitz (Ian De Caestrecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), as well as hacker-anarchist Skye (Chloe Bennet), who adamantly works against the S.H.I.E.L.D. team until she discovers their true nature.
So how will the world of S.H.I.E.L.D. be approachable for both diehard comic book fans and new viewers alike? TVGuide.com caught up with Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, who executive-produce alongside Joss Whedon, to get the scoop on what's in store, including which of The Avengers could potentially make an appearance and that pesky question of how Coulson, who died in The Avengers, survived:
For fans and new viewers alike, talk about the purpose of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the team's main directive.
Jed Whedon: Initially for many years S.H.I.E.L.D. has been an organization that kept secret and safe the world of superheroes and the things that surround it. They kept people safe from that knowledge knowing they weren't ready for it and they helped keep the people who had powers secret. But now, since the alien invasion in New York, the secret is out so their job description has changed a bit and now they're helping people cope a bit with—
Maurissa Tancharoen: The fallout from what happened in The Avengers.
Obviously, the big burning question is how Coulson is alive. Have you had a lot of people coming up to you with their theories?
Tancharoen: Yes. We feel that everyone out there is going to guess something that might be accurate. What we're more going to explore is the journey of him getting to the answer.
Whedon: We can't hang everything on the answer because, like you're saying, everybody has a theory and at some level we're not going to make up an answer and go ahead and tell you, "OK, he's a vampire." We want to give lots of little answers along the way so it's a rewarding journey and the audience feels like they're getting what they want and not just waiting.
How do you make the show approachable for new viewers and diehard fans?
Whedon: One of the things we like about the Marvel brand in general and the thing that appeals to a lot of people in the films is the human side of it and most importantly the humor. This is a show about real world people dealing with an unreal world and that's really important to the Marvel brand. This is our world if there were superheroes in it. In the features, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) has only been around a couple years, so it's new to the world. We think that's relatable, but the humor is where we really think we tie in both the male, full-blast excited for the action and gadgets, and the women, who want emotion and relationships. We feel the humor is the center post that those things revolve around.
Tancharoen: Our team of people are real people living in this extraordinary world. So if you boil everything down, you strip away the extraordinary, you strip away all the cool gadgets and the Marvel twists and things, at its core, it's about being human, and that's something everyone can relate to. That experience is amplified by the fact that there are all these extraordinary things going on. There's gods, there's monsters, there are superheroes and how does that make the human experience feel?