PaleyFest grants fans level 7 access to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel

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Plenty of fans at PaleyFest’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel were given Level 7 access this past Sunday. Executive producer Jeph Loeb kick started the panel by introducing a special screening of the show’s next episode that’ll air on April 1st.

With Captain America: The Winter Soldier set to release next week, Loeb teased the show’s upcoming crossover episode that’ll air on ABC on April 8th. “Watch this episode, watch Captain America on April 4th, and be sure to come back [to watch] on April 8th. I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he told the audience.

After the screening the April 1st episode “End of the Beginning”, moderator Felicia Day introduced stars Clark Gregg, Elizabeth Henstridge, Chloe Bennet, Ming-Na Wen, Iain De Caestecker and Brett Dalton. They were followed by executive producers Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jeph Loeb and Jeffrey Bell.

Photo credit: Michael Bulbenko

Photo credit: Michael Bulbenko

Loeb was asked how they got the idea of bringing Phil Coulson from the big screen to the small screen. “Coulson always lived,” he said, “he was always in animation land (talking about Ultimate Spider-Man).” In addition, the Twitter campaign “#CoulsonLives” helped bring back our favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. agent from the dead. “I can confess that I have 11,000 Twitter aliases, all of whom were very integral to starting the ‘Coulson Lives’ movement,” Gregg jokingly said. Before you know it, Gregg was back in character for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

When it came to adding characters to the show, executive producers Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon talked about how Agent May was originally named Agent Rice. However, when Ming-Na Wen was cast, the name didn’t seem appropriate anymore. The duo of “FitzSimmons” was based off of Casey Affleck and Scott Caan’s characters in Ocean’s Eleven. That ultimately changed when Elizabeth Henstridge was cast as Agent Simmons.

Executive producer Jeffrey Bell also shared that they know what the ending of season two and season three will be if the network allows them that option. “It’s ambitious,” Bell said, “and we know which character will still be alive because this is, in fact, a Joss Whedon joint.”

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Photo credit: Michael Bulbenko

Clark Gregg then told the audience what the differences were between Coulson on the big screen and on the small screen. “He’s a little different… When he was in the movies, he was alive and then he’s dead.” Gregg joked. “I was really dead. I was very clear — there was a lot of blood.” All kidding aside, he then told the story of Joss pitching him the idea of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and right off the bat, Gregg was all in.

“The real dilemma has been Coulson starting to feel both physically the way a lot of trauma survivors do and experientially in the world around him. He doesn’t feel the same,” Gregg explained. “It raises a lot of questions because I only know so much about Agent Coulson from his life before this.”

Much like the audience, the show’s stars are kept in the dark as well. “The writers, they don’t tell us anything,” Wen said, “Marvel is S.H.I.E.L.D. They know stuff that we try to get out of them, and they won’t tell us anything until we get the next script.” The series co-showrunner Jed Whedon then jokes about the actors popping into the writers room. “Just stopping in…” as he pantomimes someone trying to get a peek at story notes on whiteboards.

One of those burning questions still in the dark surround Chloe Bennet’s character, Skye. The actress is dying to know who her character really is. “All day on set, I’m on Wikipedia and I’m on Twitter and I’m on Marvel sites, and I’m like, ‘Am I this?’ And they’re like, ‘Nope,’” she said.

Things got funny when the subject came across the stars’ theories on the show. “I want Skye to be the lovechild of [Agent Melinda] May and Thor. We’ll have to flash back to those scenes,” Wen joked. Gregg was then quick to say, “I was going to say Coulson and Sif.” Chloe Bennet also expressed interest in working with not just Thor but Captain America as well. “Both Chrises would be nice,” she said. Elizabeth Henstridge said that she’d like to be in a scene with Loki, to which Gregg reminded her, “You know, I’ve been in a scene with Loki. Somehow I suspect you would have a different result.”

Photo credit: Michael Bulbenko

Photo credit: Michael Bulbenko

Loeb said that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which has aired infrequently over the last several months, would return on April 1st. Unfortunately, the series has yet to be renewed for a second season, and Loeb made an effort during the panel to thank ABC’s Andy Kubitz for scheduling seven straight weeks of first-run episodes to close out the season. Hopefully, with the fans reaction at the panel a second season of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be greenlit.

Fan Q&A highlights:
• When asked if any characters from Agents would interact with characters from Marvel’s upcoming Netflix series, Loeb noted that it is all one universe and said, “If it makes the fans happy, I’m in favor of that.” The fans have the power to voice their opinion as Clark Gregg stated, “People say ‘Coulson Lives’ on Twitter and now it’s a TV show.” We have the power.
• There will be more appearances by Bill Paxton’s Agent John Garrett.
• Clark Gregg twice hopped off the stage to hug fans. The first was after he received some framed felt artwork as gifts for the entire cast. The second time was for a mentally handicapped fan after she confessed that she was sad when he died in The Avengers and was so happy when she found out that he’s alive in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
• According to Chloe Bennet, the big, blue alien being in “T.A.H.I.T.I.” is a Kree. (I KNEW IT!)
• There is no proof in the cinematic universe that there are mutants. Therefore, no plans to introduce the idea of mutants on the show.
• There are no romantic subplots planned between Agent Fitz and Simmons.
• Chloe Bennet was exposed to be a Chinese pop star back when she was a teenager.
• Although it’s partially because they have to, the stars truly do like to live tweet during the show. As Ming-Na Wen said, “We don’t get to be together on Tuesday nights when the show airs so get to see each others tweets.” Clark Gregg just does it to see Brett Dalton’s puns. “Even his puns are sexy,” Gregg joked.
• Whatever heroes/villains/comic stories Marvel will let the writers play with will be on the show.
• Clark Gregg would like to see Rocket Raccoon or Scarlet Witch to appear on the show.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1169 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.