With the premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on the horizon, we’re all naturally excited, and I got to thinking about the things I’d like to see over the course of what (hopefully) is the show’s long and luxurious life.
SHIELD has a rich history within the Marvel Universe—even though the few SHIELD-centric comic book series have all been short-lived—so there are a lot of interesting personalities, plots, set pieces, and ideas that could find new life on the television series. Here are ten characters* that we’d like to see on the small screen, and how their roles could enhance the espionage thrills of the show and deepen the connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
*Excluding ones that would conflict with the current Marvel Cinematic Universe (like Dum Dum Duggan and the Howling Commandos), or who have a comparable type that already exists in the MCU (Jasper Sitwell, Clay Quartermain), or characters who are more cutout for the big screen than the small one.
The original Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew could be a great way to tie the show in to the movie universe without having too rely on too many spandex costumes. She not only has a history in the comics as an agent of SHIELD, but her origin is intimately tied to the history of HYDRA, and she could be a great way to introduce HYDRA (or AIM, or The Secret Empire) as the main behind-the-scenes antagonist of the show—in Whedon terms, think Wolfram & Hart, or the Rossum Corporation. In the comics, Jessica had a pretty believable triple-agent status for a while as well—working for Nick Fury as a mole within HYDRA pretending to be a mole within SHIELD—which would be an exciting espionage angle for the show to take. She also has connections to SWORD, SHIELD’s intergalactic counterpart organization, should the show ever want to go in that direction.
Originally an FBI Agent who later joined SHIELD, Jimmy Woo has followed a very different and unique career path from most of his fellow agents. He worked as a liaison for the SHIELD “Godzilla Squad”—which, yes, was originally a tie-in to the Godzilla movies. But if the show wanted to take a more fantastical route and introduce some of the stranger SHIELD Subdivisions—such as the short-lived “Howling Commandos,” Nick Fury’s paranormal containment unit consisting entirely of supernatural soldiers—then Jimmy Woo could be a great way to do that, thereby diversifying the show in more than one way. Woo was also head of the Agents of Atlas, the 1950s-style precursor to the Avengers, and having an older SHIELD Agent with previous superhero experience but who is left outside of Coulson’s inner circle could make for some interesting drama. This also connects to the Atlas Foundation, another clandestine organization like HYDRA, AIM, or Secret Empire that could function as the show’s Wolfram & Hart / Rossum antagonist.
I challenge anyone to find a cyborg with a better mustache than John Garrett. His presence on the show would offer a unique perspective on the power and reach of SHIELD and their manipulations. This is a guy with a criminal past—including several counts of statutory rape—who has had his entire criminal record expunged and has proven himself as such a valuable asset to SHIELD that they have spent significant amounts of money to keep him alive by replacing over 80% of his body with cybernetics. And Nick Fury trusts him completely. Intelligence agencies are known for their shady dealings, and John Garrett would allow the show to explore this even more (can you imagine the outrage if people found out that the government spent that much money and resources on someone with that kind of past, and still trusted and employed him?).
Also known as Quake, Daisy Johnson is the bastard daughter of the evil Mr. Hyde (a villain who could easily make an appearance as well), blessed with earthquake powers thanks to her father’s tampered DNA. In the comics, Nick Fury is known his masterful planning of secrets-within-secrets, each of which has eighteen different contingency plans, and Daisy Johnson is the head of one of his “Caterpillar” teams of secret warriors. While we already know that the primary cast of the SHIELD show will be Fury’s top-secret team, it would stand to reason (hyper paranoid superspy reason, anyway) that Fury has other, similar teams in place, or other secrets that he’s withholding from Coulson and crew. Even without Fury’s presence in the show, this could be a great way to tease the depths of his endless manipulations.
The man known as Taskmaster has a mysterious past, but what is known is that he is a pure mercenary with the ability to perfectly replicate any physical action or skill that he sees. In the comics, Taskmaster has been employed by SHIELD and the Avengers to offer his training expertise to new recruits, though he finds himself working for the enemy just as often (and he may or may not have been a SHIELD sleeper agent all along?). Since spy stories are never black and white, Taskmaster would make an intriguing way for the show to introduce even more grey. His monetary motivations could offer some humor in the vein of Firefly’s Jayne Cobb, and having a consultant brought in for a gig only to discover that he also works for the enemy in very specific (but not conflicting) capacities could be a cool way to add to the larger mystery and intrigue of the world.
While the show already has a female scientist, the inclusion of SHIELD agent Bobbi Morse would be an easy way for the show to connect itself even more intimately with the Marvel Movie Universe. In the comics, Mockingbird was married to Hawkeye, and although the show need not necessarily go the route of Hawkeye-gets-mad-at-her-when-she-lets-her-rapist-fall-to-his-death-and-so-she-files-for-divorce-and-then-gets-replaced-by-an-alien-shapeshifter-who-tries-to-salvage-the-marriage-but-ends-up-getting-killed-and-then-she-escapes-from-the-aliens-many-years-later-and-they-get-back-together-and-then-break-up-again, she could still have some kind of past relationship or history with Hawkeye (and/or Black Widow), offering another route for the Avengers to be present without ever actually being on-screen. She’s also an effective fighter and acrobat in her own right (and uhhh may have faked her own death to her family when she became a superhero?)
Okay, so this one’s a little out of left field, but bear with me. Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist, is a street-level superhero who could easily be folded into the smaller-scale stories that the television show is looking to tell. He’s also a billionaire philanthropist in his own right, and since the other man-child billionaire philanthropist of the Marvel Cinematic Universe probably won’t be making any appearances on the show, introducing Danny Rand would be a great way to fill that role, and draw the tensions / connections / complications between private corporate finance and secret government agencies. SHIELD could be investigating something connected to the Rand Corporation, which Danny himself is looking into in his Iron Fist identity, and while they would initially come into conflict, Danny could eventually function in a kind of consulting role as needed. As a character, he’d also bring some levity to the show, alongside his glowing kung fu dragon powers. (Also, Heroes For Hire backdoor pilot? Yes please!)
Mikel Fury / Scorpio
Another way for the show to express the man-behind-the-curtain presence of Nick Fury would be the inclusion of his illegitimate son, Mikel. Mikel was manipulated by his vengeful mother and originally believed himself to be the son of Nick’s brother, Jake. His mother raised him as an assassin in an Eastern European nation and sent him off to kill his true father, but when Mikel discovered the truth, he switched sides and joined with Nick Fury. But even then, their father-son relationship was never ideal. Mikel could start as an antagonist, only to switch sides and become overly eager to please his still-absent father—almost like Angel’s son, Conor (only less weird-whiney-incest-with-pseudo-mom thing).
The Zodiac symbols in general have had a long and mysterious history within the SHIELD comics (the Scorpio title in particular originally belonged to Jake Fury), and it would be cool to see their inclusion in the show as well, as a way of demonstrating the complexities of conspiracy-within-conspiracy in the espionage world.
Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
In her first comic book appearance, the Contessa responds to one of Fury’s chauvinistic remarks by judo-throwing him to the floor. Naturally, Fury is so mortified that he immediately falls in love with her, and while the two carry on an are-they-or-aren’t-they relationship for years, the Contessa is never diminished to being “just” the super-spy’s girlfriend. She is a classy and tough-as-nails woman in her own right, and since we probably won’t be seeing too much of Fury himself on the show, the Contessa might be an interesting way to make his presence known (plus it would be great to have an older female character on the show who can still be sexy). It might be fun to watch her and Coulson butt heads—Coulson might be in charge of a mission, for example, or more privy to certain information, but the Contessa might have a better understanding of the overall situation, thanks to her more intimate knowledge of the man behind the eye-patch. In addition, if there is a vast conspiracy-within-conspiracy lurking behind the scenes of the show, the Contessa has an interesting past with her jet-set Italian freedom fighter family and ties to the Leviathan organization (she plays a pretty great long-con game in Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Warriors).
We already got a few glimpses of the shadowy board that runs the show in Marvel’s The Avengers, and we’ve seen how Fury’s actions conflict with their bureaucracy. Inter-departmental politics have always ruled past spy/secret agent shows, so I think it’s safe to say that Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD will also have to deal with similar red-tape complications. Robert “Rebel” Ralston is a former Howling Commando and good friend of Nick Fury’s who eventually retires from soldier/secret agent life and finds a career as a US Senator, and the show could get a lot of mileage out of his inclusion as the sympathetic government suit who helps them their battles from the voting booths and senate meetings. It would never be this easy, of course, and Rebel would have to deal with his own conflicting allegiances between his country, his laws, his supporters, his career, and his friends. He’s the ex-spy who still kind of wishes he was in the spy game. He could bring a kind of West Wing / House of Cards edge to the series, showing off a whole different side of the superhero world.
Which SHIELD Members—or story lines—would you like to see brought to life on the small screen? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
Thom Dunn is a Boston-based writer, musician, homebrewer, and new media artist. He enjoys Oxford commas, metaphysics, and romantic clichés (especially when they involve whiskey and/or robots). He is a graduate of Clarion Writer’s Workshop at UCSD, and he firmly believes that Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is the single worst atrocity committed against mankind. Find out more at thomdunn.net.