WonderCon 2017: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduces us to a whole new world

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fourth season has been separated into three pods – each with a different focus that will eventually connect in the end. Thr first pod had Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna), the second introduced LMDs taking over, and now, with the third pod, we have Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) trying to save their team from The Framework, which is all run by Hydra.

Fans were given this Tuesday’s upcoming episode What If…, which has our characters in all kinds of opposites: Madame Hydra aka Viper (Mallory Jansen) is in charge of The Framework and in a relationship with evil Hydra Fitz (Iain De Caestecker); The Patriot/Mace (Jason O’Mara) is a wanted man for working with the Inhumans Resistance; Hydra Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) is tracking down all the Inhumans; Mack (Henry Simmons) has a life if his daughter never died; Coulson (Clark Gregg) is a teacher; and, Hydra agent Ward (Brett Dalton) is back as a double agent working for S.H.I.E.L.D.

“We think it’s fun to see all of our people in this new configuration with Hydra. What fun is to see, everybody split up. Nobody knows each other,” explained executive producer Jeffrey Bell. “Madame Hydra is at the top and that’s pretty cool. I love the crowd reaction when she and Fitz kissed. Does Simmons know? This is bad. But, for us, it was really fun to have Mallory [Jansen] come in and playing Aida in the beginning and then all the different changes where she slowly worked her way to run things.”

Executive producer Maurissa Tancharoen is excited about the new world created for the writers and actors to play with.

“I think it came at the perfect time. We’re in our 88th episode shooting right now. As you approach doing these same characters, it’s nice to be able twist to them in the head and give them a different version to play,” said Tancharoen.

Jansen, who just came from their panel, caught a mixed reaction over her new role as Madame Hydra and Fitz’s new lover. She, of course, is excited about her new role.

“It’s fun for me because I got to play so many different characters so far. So many versions of Aida. As an actor, that’s the dream to challenge yourself and do all these different roles and I’ve been able to do it all in one season, which is pretty amazing,” Jansen tells us. “Her story arc and going through an artificial intelligence, then playing the real version of her, then going to head honcho in The Framework, it’s nothing I ever dreamed of. ”

Wen, who is slowly recovering from a leg injury from a stunt fight, came to the convention in stride being rolled into the press room and panel. She joked that she was just like Professor X from X-Men and made sure she answered everyone’s questions. Agent May, who is now a Hydra agent in The Framework, is determined to find Mace, who is leading the Inhumans resistance, and bring him in.

“What is really interesting in working in the Framework is how to justify all the things that are going on with our characters now. It is such a complete 360 – or 180. It’s 180 and try to justify why May would choose Hydra and would want to bring down the Inhumans,” said Wen. “It was really confusing for me, in the beginning, to work in that world and make May just as loyal to the cause as the real May. But, with just a whole net set of aenda and, in a way, HYDRA may is just very cold and calculated and very revengeful versus the real May who is just trying to do good and fight against evil.”

Wen laughed, “I got to play and even less emotion. I don’t know how that’s possible.”

With the tension already between Mace and May in reality, it may be even more intense in this new Hydra world.

“Mace and May be on a collision course on this Framework,” said O’Mara. “It seems we’re upping that.”

As for the two lovebirds, Simmons is trying to find out what happened to her colleagues, including Fitz. Henstridge, who watched her onscreen partner kissing the enemy, reacted hilariously to the reveal.

“Oh my gosh, I couldn’t believe it,” Henstridge laughed. “I was kind of annoyed at both of them- in real life for awhile. I knew IO couldn’t be I knew it was silly. I mean, really, it’s cool. It’s such a fun twist. It’s such a great thing for the fans of the show to watch. Everybody had such a reaction to it at the panel.”

De Caestecker was also shocked at how his character has turned out and he’s not a huge fan of it either. He tells us, “It’s not nice being nasty to people all day. It doesn’t leave you with a good feeling at the end of the day. That’s probably more like myself than real life Fitz. I think when people watch the show, I hope the majority like to see good overcome evil. People do have a weird fascination with villains. It’s interesting to get in the thought process of it. In their thought process, they’re not evil. They’re the good guy. It’s been interesting. Definitely been a challenge.”

As for Coulson, Clark Gregg is excited for the completely new role for his character. Having played Agent Coulson for almost ten years, Gregg explained, “I’ve been playing this guy since 2007, sporadically and then intensely. It’s one of the great things about working in a world that’s driven so much by imagination and a different broader set of rules. Suddenly, he’s in a completely different world with a completely different history. A full lifetime of history. This is a different person with his own other heartbreaks. Never in SHIELD. He’s living in a world where various people’s regrets have been cured and one of those cured regrets leads to a world where Inhumans are persecuted and Hydra is in charge. It’s such a thrill to get to play this very different guy who is sometimes is goofy, who is not necessarily heroic, and sometimes, is very unheroic. This is one of the reasons I love my job – to be able to have that kind of a breath of things to play.”

Mack has it the hardest in the new Framework. He has his family back. He may have completely changed.

“You will see more a family side of Mack,” said Simmons. “If you remember in the very beginning, Mack was someone who was very reticent to get involved with violence, he doesn’t like fighting. I think there might be a throwback to that kind of thing. Remember, The Framework is a completely different atmosphere. You were a person very much unlike you were in SHIELD.”

The biggest surprise of the episode was the return of Agent Ward. Dalton joined the cast and creatives onstage at the panel to a shocked crowd. The bigger surprise came when we found out that Hydra agent Ward was actually working for S.H.I.E.L.D. Dalton is definitely not used to being the good guy again.

“I’m not used to it. I’m used to liking having people love to hate me,” Dalton explained. “There was a term when I started in season one, he was the guy who didn’t talk a lot but did a whole bunch of the action stuff. He’s the guy you went to when you needed a mission done. Cool. Then something happened, obviously. So when we did Comic-Con again for season two, there were all these boos and all of that stuff in a fun stuff that they were engaged in the show. But, I didn’t at first know how to deal with that stuff because everybody needs a villain. I played into that. So I learned how to do that for seasons upon season.”

Now, Ward is back with Daisy, living happily as agents together.

“I’m a little confused as an actor. We’re in an alternate reality. A few of us have fixed one regret and this changed the world that they live in,” said Bennet. “Daisy and Simmons have gone in the rescue the team and it turns out harder than what we think it is.”

Well, could leaving this world be hard for Daisy since she finally has Ward back? Is there any way we could bring Ward out of the Framework and into reality?

“There’s always a way to do anything in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” said EP Jed Whedon.

Tancharoen added, “Our series is centered around a man who we brought back from the dead.”

Tune into Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this Tuesday on ABC.

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