Friday, April 24, 2015

Bobbi/Hunter Spinoff Ideas

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You know how I wrote an article two weeks ago about the announced Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff potentially coming this fall?  Well, we’ve had a couple developments on that front this week, one a casting rumor, and the other a line from the episode which may have been a reference to it.  The rumor going around this week is that Adrianne Palicki (Bobbi Morse, aka “Mockingbird”) and Nick Blood (Lance Hunter) have been in negotiations to headline the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff.  Apparently this spinoff would have a “Mr. and Mrs. Smith vibe” to it.  The reference in the episode, “The Frenemy of My Enemy” (2x18), came while Hunter and Fitz were discussing Coulson’s plan to work with Ward against Hydra.  Fitz asked Hunter if he would be willing to work with Bobbi again, to which Hunter replied “No, not a chance.”  Was I the only one who thought that could be teasing the two of them getting back together in some fashion as part of this spinoff?

So if it is true that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff will feature Bobbi and Hunter, I think we need to do a little speculating.  Here are a couple of my ideas for how this could work:

Not my best work
Theta Protocol or S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy

You should remember that in last week’s episode, “Melinda” (2x17), Bobbi, Weaver, and Gonzales informed May of something called “Theta Protocol” which Coulson was working on off the books and without consulting her.  This involved some large-scale construction projects, requisition orders for base supplies (“100 bunk beds”), as well as consultations with Dr. Andrew Garner, May’s ex-husband.  So what if “Theta Protocol” is Coulson’s plan for expanding S.H.I.E.L.D. by founding a new S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy?

The original S.H.I.E.L.D. had three academies scattered around the world—Operations, Science and Technology, and Communication.  However, in the Hydra uprising the academies were all destroyed and most of the students were either killed or turned.  If S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to rebuild and expand, they will need to start recruiting and training agents on a much larger scale.  This is where Bobbi and Hunter come in.

If the spinoff follows this concept, Bobbi and Hunter will act as overseers to a new S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy.  They (along with Agent Weaver) will be responsible for recruiting, evaluating, and training candidates—both gifted and regular humans.  Some of the recruits might even be Inhumans sent in their direction by Jiaying (after S.H.I.E.L.D. helps her group rescue Lincoln from Hydra, of course).  They will take the recruits on some training missions, but most of the series will be devoted to introducing and training new agents.  By focusing more on recruitment and training, I think this spinoff idea would be able to distinguish itself from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which would continue to focus on the Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. Civil War storylines.

However, one key issue with this idea is the feel:  would this have a “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” vibe, and the reports have suggested?  It is always possible, but I don’t see this spinoff concept spending a lot of time on Hunter and Bobbi’s relationship post-S.H.I.E.L.D. breakup—except insofar as they would be working very closely together.

Secret Warriors or Secret Avengers

At the end of this week’s episode, “The Frenemy of My Enemy” (2x18), Deathlok and Lincoln were captured by Hydra to be taken to Liszt’s (and possibly Strucker’s) base for “experimentation” and “compliance training.”  The two Hydra heads are reportedly obsessed with the idea of powers and have been attempting various techniques to give people superpowers.  One such experiment using Loki’s scepter actually unlocked Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s superhuman abilities—abilities which we will see in action in Avengers: Age of Ultron.  However, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are obviously not the only test subjects from Strucker and Liszt’s experiments.  They may have captured other gifted individuals in addition to Lincoln and Deathlok.  They may have succeeded in unlocking powers in others as they did in Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.  However it happened, as a lead-up to this potential spinoff concept, Hydra has a number of enhanced individuals under their control.

The next episode, “The Dirty Half Dozen” (2x19) will see Coulson’s team (presumably with assistance) infiltrating the Hydra base to rescue Lincoln and Deathlok.  If this concept is correct, they will succeed in defeating Liszt’s forces and freeing all the enhanced people under his control, including Lincoln and Deathlok.  Many of those they rescue might have been driven mad by the experimentation and brainwashing, and will manage to escape from S.H.I.E.L.D. to wreak havoc.  However, some of them will be perfectly sane, and Coulson will offer them positions in the newly-merged S.H.I.E.L.D. (or not merged; either way works).  Some will reject the offer and set out on their own, perhaps becoming freelance superheroes along the lines of Daredevil.  Others will accept the offer and go to work for S.H.I.E.L.D.  These will form the nucleus of New S.H.I.E.L.D.’s first Enhanced Strike Team.

This spinoff series would see Bobbi and Hunter placed in command of the Enhanced Strike Team, which goes on missions for Coulson (and/or Gonzales) to track down and contain the other experiments from the Hydra base, as well as other super humans.  In fact, this plot could even lead directly into Captain America: Civil War.  With a group of mentally unstable enhanced individuals running around, there are plenty of opportunities for super humans to cause widespread panic and destruction, giving the world’s governments more reasons to call for the registration of all super humans.  Where would Bobbi, Hunter, and their team fall in this debate:  on the side of the governments, or on the side of the super humans?

I think this would be an interesting concept for a TV series in the Marvel universe.  However, I see two concerns here.  First, I don’t know if this spinoff concept would have the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” feel that Marvel is supposedly going for.   That feeling could be worked into any series, but in something like this it would really be an afterthought—or at least a secondary plot.  Second, how would this series distinguish itself from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?  It’s not enough for this series to just be “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with superpowers.”  There needs to be something more that makes it different from the parent series.  They can’t be different characters doing the same things and working the same plots.  If that happens, then either the spinoff will succeed because it has superpowers while AoS fails because it does not, or neither series will succeed because they are in direct competition for viewers.  I don’t think either of these concerns is an automatic deal breaker, but it is still something to keep in mind.

Mr. and Mrs. Hunter

So thematically this would pretty much be a remake of Mr. and Mrs. Smith set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and starring Bobbi and Hunter.  The series would see the two of them get fed up with all the lies and deceit from the two S.H.I.E.L.D.s and decide to leave together to work things out by themselves.  I think that at this point Bobbi is fed up enough with Coulson’s secrets and Gonzales’ assault on Coulson (while ignoring the Hydra threat) that she would be willing to leave both of them behind, regardless of how the S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. conflict is resolved.  I’m not sure whether Hunter would be willing to leave Coulson at the end of the season and go off with Bobbi, however, because at this point he appears to have been hurt deeply by her betrayal.  It could still happen, especially if over the next few episodes the two of them are forced to work together and he becomes disillusioned with Coulson’s goals and methods.

If the two of them become disillusioned with S.H.I.E.L.D. and go off on their own, what will they do?  One possibility is that they will go to hunt down Hydra leads on their own, operating entirely outside of S.H.I.E.L.D. control, while the two S.H.I.E.L.D.s settle their differences.  If this is the case then Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be left to deal with the S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhumans storylines.  Another option is for them to go undercover to get close to a particular villain and take him down—either independently or under Coulson/Gonzales’ orders.  As a third option, this series could fit into the trope of a romantic comedy… but with spies!  I would not be a huge fan of that third option.

One benefit of this series would be the character focus, something we can’t get a lot of with a show like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which has a large ensemble cast.  However, I just don’t see much in the way of MCU connectivity from this type of series.  They could certainly work it in, but I see much better alternatives which would connect to the MCU and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. more closely.

Of the three options, I think the Secret Warriors/Secret Avengers would make the most sense.  But what do you think?  Which option do you like best?  Do you have another possibility that I didn’t think of?  Let me know!

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