This summer might not be giving us a new Avengers film (we’ll have to wait until next year for that, folks!) but on the heels of Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 is ABC’s sure-fire hit, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. The line-up alone has everyone buzzing—Joss Whedon is co-creator and executive producer, plus he’s directing the pilot, and Jeffrey Bell, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen have got the reins from there. The the trailer is up for fans to pick apart, so let’s join the converstation and speculate about which Marvel superheroes might get some screen time with Agent Coulson.
Though Jessica Drew (aka Spider-Woman) is one of those Avengers I would hope to see appear in the Avengers film franchise, she is also a perfect fit for the television series. Jessica starts out as a HYDRA agent sent to kill Nick Fury, but she gets turned and becomes a good guy in a search for a better life. Conflicted by her ties to HYDRA and with her loyalty always in question by fellow agents, Jessica is an all-around fantastic character to follow.
Though she languished in comic book limbo for years, Spider-Woman has been reinstated as a staple of recent Avengers’ story lines, and is one of their stronger female characters. Jessica’s history with HYDRA makes her a perfect link to them as potential villains for the show, and her status as a possible double agent brings all the intrigue the series needs. The only reason I could see not to include Spider-Woman in the show would be to leave her available for the films, but who said there can’t be crossover?
This New Avengers favorite was a no-brainer for some fans from the get-go. When the trailer came out, many speculated that J. August Richards—shown in the pilot rescuing folks from a burning building—was going to play Cage. But back in May, exec producer Jeffrey Bell shot down those rumors, hinting instead that Richards was playing someone whose name might start with an M.
But there’s still plenty of room for Luke Cage to make an appearance on the show. Cage is a very solid everyman, a street-level hero whose no-nonsense attitude would make for killer back-and-forth with Coulson. Cage was always represented as a man who took his responsibility to help people seriously and that could make for great clashes with SHIELD agents who want to contain superhero activity.
Marvel already recognized the potential for a great television character in Jessica Jones when they began shopping her around for her own TV series. AKA Jessica Jones was set to follow the adventures of the superhero turned private eye, but it looks like ABC passed on the pilot. But every cloud has a silver lining, and that lost opportunity could provide Agents of SHIELD with a great character. Imagine a young private eye working in the city with hidden super powers, just trying to get along? Sounds ripe for incorporation into Coulson’s new initiative.
Then of course there’s the relationship between her and Luke Cage to consider—bring the two characters together on the show and you have a built in tumultuous romance plot that just screams ABC television. Should their storyline go on to follow the comics, we might even see the birth of their daughter, Danielle. And that has all sorts of potential! Does Danielle have powers? Would people want to kidnap her? Could they get Squirrel Girl as the babysitter like they do in New Avengers? I’d tune in just to watch that unfold.
Danny Rand has all the makings of a fun Agents of SHIELD character. He’s a good guy who can punch through walls! His martial arts skills would make for great fight scenes, and his powers are mystical enough to get Agent Coulson to make that awesome confused face of his all over the place. And he potentially brings in the villains associated with the mystical city of K’un L’un, those fighting for the power of the Iron Fist. And as the “wealthy businessman with a secret past” Batman-type—minus the brooding—Rand would make a great globe-trotting addition to the SHIELD team.
A big plus for Iron Fist is, honestly, the simplicity of his powers. TV superheroes often have flashy powers that are outside the budget of most studios, and shows that try to fake those powers suffer for it (example: the often weak super fights on Heroes). Danny Rand offers a simple solution: his fist glows, he punches things! Couple that with a fun character and he’s in the running for a great choice.
So far we’ve covered a super-strong man, an alien crystal-powered detective, and a mystical martial artist—so why not a cybernetic Hero for Hire? Misty Knight has always existed on the back burner in Marvel comics, but for a show like Agents of SHIELD she’s a perfect fit. Misty starts out as an NYPD officer who is severely injured in an explosion. She resigns after her right arm is amputated, but later gets outfitted with a bionic arm by none other than Tony Stark. She then uses her new bionic arm—plus her previous butt-kicking abilities—to take on crime with her best friend Colleen Wing and, later, with her boyfriend Iron Fist. She becomes the head of Heroes For Hire, an agency that outsources people with powers to deal with problems.
Misty is a perfect choice for Agents of SHIELD because her character arc represents everything that the show seems poised to talk about. Can an individual be trusted with super powers without monitoring or control? Even if they’re a former police officer? Even if they want to do good? Misty is also a strong female character with her own inner life to explore, especially if they followed the storyline centered on her crippling doubts and depression after losing her arm.
Want a morally ambiguous character who’s great with a firearm and kicks butt all over town? Bring in mercenary and Wild Pack leader Silver Sable! She is ruthless, emotionless, and perfectly suited to be a thorn in SHIELD’s side if they were to, say, go after the same target. And Sable’s mercenary group actually funds the small European country of Symkaria, potentially giving the show some political intrigue.
Sable is one of those perfect grey-area Marvel characters, a Black Widow-level fighter who could deliver some serious high-tech weapons threats while still being an interesting foil for our good guys. Sable has also been notoriously underutilized in the comics, so seeing her on the show would resurrect a great character who has been neglected for too long.
Marc Spector is a rooftop-jumping hero in a cape who believes he was given powers to fight crime by the Egyptian god Khonshu. Is he really blessed by a god, or is he just crazypants? The question of whether or not he is blessed by an Egyptian god invites comparisons to those who wonder whether Thor is really a Norse god. We know he is, but the general public in the Avengers movie universe might have a harder time believing it since they haven't seen Asgard. And if there are Norse gods, why not Egyptian ones, too?
Moon Knight has by and large been shown in comics to be unpredictable, and some of his colleagues question whether or not the blessings of Khonshu are all in his head. The introduction of a potentially unstable hero could really give the agents of SHIELD a whole host of problems to deal with as they scramble to keep his activities out of the news.
Okay, so putting a superhero group on the list might be cheating, but what a group they are! Fans of the comic series would go insane to see the teen Runaways show up on Agents of SHIELD. Joss Whedon wrote a six-issue arc for Runaways, and fans have suggested that the comic would make a great television series in its own right. Originally created by Brian K. Vaughan, the Runaways are a team of children who discover that their parents are part of a criminal organization called The Pride. The kids take off together with some of their parents’ technology and equipment, attempting to make amends for what their parents have done.
I could see the Runaways fitting very well into SHIELD’s attempts to contain super powered beings; between their unpredictable powers and supervillain parents to battle, the kids would have exasperated SHIELD agents running ragged. And I’d love to see little super-strong Molly giving Agent Coulson backtalk. Just saying.
So will we see any of these characters on the show? Joss Whedon has said that the show will be featuring mostly new characters, but who knows? There is an understandable anxiety behind announcing well-known Marvel characters—nobody wants to see the show become a super-of-the-week affair like Smallville did at the end—but it wouldn’t be a Marvel show without recognizable Marvel characters, now would it? The creative team seems tight-lipped, so for now we’ll just have to sit back, analyze those trailers some more, and get our “Agent Coulson Lives” t-shirts ready for the fall premiere on ABC.
Shoshana Kessock is a comics fan, photographer, game developer, LARPer and all around geek girl. She’s the creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions and ReImaginedReality.com.