Here’s what we know about Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series so far: It’s produced by Joss Whedon, so it’s in good hands. It takes place right after the first Avengers film. It stars Ming Na-Wen, Elizabeth Henstridge, Iain De Caestecker and Brett Dalton as the core cast of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents under the wing of Agent Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg. And according to Whedon, “It’s gotta be bigger than your average cop show.”
Of course it does. This is the Marvel U we’re talking about here! But what does bigger mean in the scope of television? We can’t have the same kind of mega-budget spectacle that dominated the last half hour of the Avengers film, week after week. What kind of thrills can we expect to see on our televisions when S.H.I.E.L.D. hits late in 2013?
1. There will be a mole.
Because this is a Joss Whedon show, we suspect one of the central cast members of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents will be secretly working for an opposing force in some way. Maybe one of them will be reporting S.H.I.E.L.D. secrets to A.I.M. or Hydra, or maybe one of them is actually a Skrull, leading to a TV version of the “Secret Invasion” storyline. That Skrull theory is a long shot, but Whedon loves to put his characters (and their relationships) through hell by making one go bad. We all know what he did with Willow in the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and he also had plans to have Jayne turn on Mal Reynolds if Firefly would’ve kept going. I’ll be surprised if this one doesn’t happen.
2. Baron Von Strucker will be a recurring villain.
Though we might not be seeing a lot of Nick Fury on the TV show, I’ll go out on a limb and say that we’ll probably be seeing Fury’s archenemy, Hydra head honcho Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker, quite a bit. In fact, if you consider our number one prediction, there’s already a precedent in the comics for Von Strucker to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. from within, by posing as an agent. Von Strucker is a great choice for the main villain of the show because of his long, confrontational history with the agency, coupled with the fact that he’s not quite a big enough name to have his own time in the sun in a Marvel movie as the sole heavy.
3. You’ll meet the Kree.
Most Avengers fans would love to see Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel, formerly known as Marvel Girl) join the team, but her weirdly complicated origin as a half-human, half-alien side effect of an experiment gone wrong is not something you can easily get over in the shorthand of an ensemble superhero flick. ABC, Marvel and Whedon are going to want superheroes on the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show, and looking at the most eligible, in terms of someone who could be “promoted” from TV to film for Avengers 2, it seems Captain Marvel makes the most sense. To get to that point, though, you need to introduce Marvel’s proud militaristic alien race, the Kree (and with them, the bizarre Kree leader, the Supreme Intelligence). I don’t expect Captain Marvel right away in Season One, but I expect the roads to Captain Marvel to be fully paved by the time the first season ends.
2. An Avenger will appear in season one, but which one?
If there’s a most eligible Avenger to transition to the small screen, it’s probably Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk. He’s the only one that isn’t currently tied up with his own film franchise, and, because the Hulk is CG, Ruffalo can possibly come in for a lighter shooting schedule when Banner is used (thus costing less money than his costars). Because he’s under-exposed and the fans have been ravenous for more Hulk since the film, a Hulk appearance in an episode or two would pop a much bigger rating than an appearance by Thor, for example. Plus, Marvel put plans for a new Hulk TV series on the backburner once it started developing S.H.I.E.L.D., leading me to believe that Marvel will dovetail its interests and you’ll see the Green Goliath return to the small screen.
1. Coulson has a secret.
Nobody dies in comics, so nobody should die in comic book movies, right? Clark Gregg has been more than willing to come back to the role, and I think the worst kept secret of the show was that we would see the agent return in some capacity. Like any comic book return from the dead, though, the surprise won’t be in him coming back, it will be in how they pull it off. Could the revived Coulson be an android? Possibly one of those previously mentioned “Secret Invasion” Skrulls? Time will tell, and, knowing TV, it won’t be resolved until the second part of the cliffhanger that ends season one.
What do you think will happen in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s first season?
Marvel Studios Countdown is a biweekly column focusing on all things related to Marvel Studios and its movies, past, present and future. You can follow John Gholson on Twitter and at the comic book opinion blog GuttersAndPanels.com.