“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” took over the Dolby Theatre on March 23 for its first-ever Paley Festival appearance. The full cast and producers — including Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge, Iain De Caestecker, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, Jeph Loeb and Jeffrey Bell — screened a new episode of the ABC series and fielded questions about the end of Season 1 during the event.
The panel was filled with adorable moments like Gregg jumping down into the audience (twice!) to greet fans, and Wen sharing her dream of having the not-yet-confirmed Season 2 solely feature flashbacks of May’s secret affair with Thor. But fans’ main interest seemed to be on the role “Agents of SHIELD” has within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and what that means for the show, the movies and everything in between. Here are some highlights and teases from the panel and screening:
“End of the Beginning” is exactly that. Without spoiling the upcoming April 1 episode, the next installment of “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” proves that the series is done setting itself up. Deathlok returns, Skye’s position within SHIELD is addressed, May’s mole status is dealt with and the Clairvoyant … well, honestly we’re still not sure what was answered and what wasn’t from this episode. But it definitely was one of the best “Agents of SHIELD” episodes yet, and proof that the series has decided to stop playing games and commit to itself.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is integral to this series. So much so that Loeb mentioned fans will want to watch the April 1 episode, catch “Cap 2” in theaters opening weekend and then return to “Agents of SHIELD” on April 8 no less than four times during his time on stage. How that film affects the series is yet unclear, but the cast and crew were putting much more stress on catching this movie opening weekend than they did “Thor: The Dark World.”
What MCU characters will interact with “Agents of SHIELD”? One of the main questions fielded by the cast was how “Agents of SHIELD” will interact with the other Marvel movie and Netflix properties. While fans asked about whether we can expect to see “SHIELD” characters in the movies, in the Netflix series and who they want on the show (Gregg voted for Rocket Raccoon and Scarlet Witch), Loeb kept them mum on actual details beyond the fact that he is open to anything that makes the fans happy. Still, Wen won the panel when she said she wants “Skye to be the love child of May and Thor.”
The future is mapped out, even if it’s not confirmed. There was no “Agents of SHIELD” Season 2 news revealed at PaleyFest beyond the fact that there is “hope” for renewal. But at least fans can rest easy knowing that there is a plan in place. “We knew where we wanted to go with this season, and we know where we want a Season 2 to end and we know where we want a Season 3 to end, but that’s ambitious,” Bell says of working with Tancharoen and Jed and Joss Whedon.
FitzSimmons are based on “Ocean’s Eleven.” Fun fact: Fitz and Simmons were both supposed to be men, and were inspired by Casey Affleck and Scott Caan’s characters in “Ocean’s Eleven.” “We wanted a pair of friends who had grown up together and known each other for a long time, but there was a bro love there,” Tancharoen says. “Before we knew it, Ms. Henstridge came in and sort of stole it away.”
Agent May originally had a different name. “Originally Agent May was Agent Rice, and then we cast Ming-Na Wen,” Tancharoen admits. “Maybe not so much with the ‘Agent Rice’ after that.”
“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” returns to ABC on Tuesday, April 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, and then it’s final seven episodes will air in a straight shot through the end of Season 1.