Note for those who were looking for my idea about the Avengers: Age of Ultron tie-in: Sorry. I was fully planning to publish that article today, but when this news broke yesterday I decided to put it on hold. That article will be out on Sunday.
S.H.I.E.L.D. is spinning off a new series! The announcement came out yesterday that Marvel and ABC are working on a spinoff series from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which will premier either this coming fall or during the 2015-2016 midseason break. To be honest, this really does not surprise me at all. I’ve been expecting an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff almost since they announced Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the first place! The Marvel universe is large enough to support a ton of movies, network TV series, Netflix TV series, tie-in comics… you name it. And given that DC has been building its own live-action TV universe lately—Arrow spawned Flash, which is spawning a midseason show next year; then there’s also Constantine (#SaveConstantine) and Supergirl, which aren’t connected to Arrow and Flash, but could maybe be later on, to say nothing of the in-development Teen Titans series…—it was only inevitable that Marvel and ABC would want to get in on some of that action. Given the inevitability of a spinoff, it was only a question of when and what.
As an aside, I realize that Marvel has already produced a second network TV series in Agent Carter, and that today they are releasing a third TV series in Daredevil on Netflix (which is itself going to turn into a whole universe of The Defenders). However, I don’t really consider either of those to be a “spinoff” of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the traditional sense. Daredevil borrows a character from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Carl Creel), but at this point that’s the only connection between the two; Daredevil is pretty independent from the ABC series. Peggy Carter made her television debut on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in “Shadows” (AoS 2x01), but that was only after she had already been introduced to the MCU in Captain America: The First Avenger and the Marvel One-Shot “Agent Carter.” The series did not make use of any themes, plots, or characters that were exactly unique to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; it more or less did its own thing in setting up the 1940s of the MCU. For these reasons, I would actually consider Agent Carter to be more of a spinoff of Captain America: The First Avenger than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Although, this distinction is largely irrelevant given that this is all part of the same Cinematic Universe; a spinoff of one piece will borrow elements from others.
But back to the subject at hand. As of now there is very little known about the new series. In fact, I can probably sum it all up in a single paragraph. The spinoff is being developed by AoS executive producer Jeffrey Bell and (AoS) writer Paul Zbyszewski. The spinoff will make use of characters and plot points from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but we don’t know which ones. They will not give the spinoff a “backdoor pilot” (episode or two dedicated to introducing the new spinoff) on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And that’s the sum total of what we know about the spinoff so far.
There are a lot of different possibilities out there for what the spinoff could be about, so today I am going to run through a few of my ideas. I am going to list them in ascending order of likelihood (so the first one is the least likely in my opinion and the last one is the most likely in my opinion).
“S.W.O.R.D.” is the acronym for the “Sentient World Observation and Response Department,” a S.H.I.E.L.D. department tasked with dealing with extraterrestrial threats. A TV series about S.W.O.R.D. would probably focus on all the aliens we have met so far in the MCU and specifically S.H.I.E.L.D.’s response to the alien threat.
I do not think this is a likely candidate for a spinoff because of a number of issues. For one, there’s the simple matter of rights. I assume that Marvel owns the film rights to the organization itself, but several of the main characters are mutants (Beast and Abigail Brand) or otherwise associated with the X-Men franchise (Lockheed the dragon). They could use the human and hero characters along with some aliens, but how much would be missing if they didn’t have Brand, who was the S.W.O.R.D. director for a time? Second, I just don’t know if the extraterrestrial threat is significant enough at this point in time to be considered a plot point on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. around which to base a spinoff. We’ve seen the Chitauri invasion, of course, and there have been three Asgardians and a Kree on AoS so far, but that’s it as far as an alien presence. Finally, when I look at the characters on the show right now, none of them scream “leaving for S.W.O.R.D.” to me.
“West Coast S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Playing off of the “West Coast Avengers” team from the comics, a “West Coast S.H.I.E.L.D.” series would focus on a portion of the team leaving to form a branch of S.H.I.E.L.D. which is based in Los Angeles (or San Francisco, or somewhere else on the West Coast). This show might focus more on the powered people, leaving Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to focus on non-powered threats. Alternatively, this idea could center on a task force of powered individuals whom Coulson sets up as his own Avengers-type group based on the West Coast. Some possible candidates to make the jump include Mockingbird, Hunter, and Mack.
I don’t think this is likely, either, because I just don’t see enough material there to allow this show to distinguish itself from the parent show.
There are two different Thunderbolts teams in the comics history: the first was a group of villains impersonating heroes in order to take over the world (or something like that); the second was a group of semi-reformed villains and anti-heroes brought together by Captain America with Luke Cage as field leader who were to serve as another S.H.I.E.L.D. strike team (like the Suicide Squad). We know that the Thunderbolts are on Marvel’s radar, given comments from James Gunn to the effect that he would be interested in directing a Thunderbolts movie. However, this Thunderbolts series would not necessarily include the same characters that a movie would feature. As a series, this would focus on a group of semi-villains and anti-heroes we have met already and their efforts to alternately help Coulson and redeem themselves, or else to sabotage him while pretending to work with him. Possible characters for this series include Ward, Agent 33, Deathlok, Blizzard (assuming they are planning to eventually bring him back from the “dead”), and Mockingbird as team leader/S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison.
I think this would be a very interesting TV series. It would give us an opportunity to explore more of the motivations behind Ward’s and Agent 33’s actions, along with a little more of Deathlok’s story arc. At the very least, I would be interested in watching it! However, this is still not the spinoff idea I think is the most likely. There are still two ideas that I think are more likely.
In the comic books, the Secret Warriors are a team put together by Nick Fury and Daisy Johnson (aka Quake) consisting of the children of super villains. This team was tasked with fighting against Hydra at a time when S.H.I.E.L.D. had been compromised by the Skrull invasion. From the showrunners’ comments, it is clear that they have been taking cues from the Secret War storyline for this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so it is not much of a stretch to think that they could spin off a new show about a small team of agents and super-powered individuals working to stop Hydra while Coulson and his team deal with the S.H.I.E.L.D. Civil War storyline. Characters who could be part of this show include Skye, Deathlok, Ward (and Agent 33), and perhaps Mockingbird (though unlikely).
This would be a very interesting series, and it certainly builds from key plotlines in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I especially like the idea of making a show which would include far more powered individuals as regular characters than we’ve seen on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, I don’t think that this idea fulfills the “criteria” laid out for the spinoff quite as well as my next idea because Secret Warriors ignores one of the most important plotlines in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2, and does not leave any natural way for the parent show to continue exploring that plotline. So my most-likely idea is:
I know, I know, The Inhumans is being made into a movie which will come out in 2019. However, I do not think that Marvel is going to wait that long before capitalizing on the Inhumans’ potential in the MCU. After all, they’ve already let Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. explore the Inhumans and their culture. The signs are pointing to the Twins (Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) being Inhumans whose powers were somehow unlocked by the Scepter. If Marvel wants the Inhumans to play any role in the Infinity War, then they will have to do more than introduce a few characters on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; they need to blow that property wide open and at least lay the groundwork for the big characters (the Inhuman Royal Family) to be introduced. They need to make The Inhumans into a TV series which can explore their culture and characters in far more depth than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can manage.
When you think about all the different plotlines on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., there are really three main plots they are working with: S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. Hydra, S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Inhumans. The first two can fit together pretty well; the third one is entirely other to the first two. And yet, when you think about all the episodes since the midseason premier, the Inhumans plotline has been getting around half the screen time of the other plots. In fact, it feels like there is just too much to the Inhumans for them to do them justice when they also need to deal with Hydra and the two S.H.I.E.L.D.s. The Inhumans wouldn’t need a “backdoor pilot”; this entire half-season has been their “backdoor pilot”! If any single plotline is going to get pushed out of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. into its own series, it has to be the Inhumans.
This would give them the opportunity to focus all their efforts on Skye and Raina and their efforts to learn about Inhuman culture. They could introduce more Inhumans, and even make one or more members of the Royal Family regular cast members (look back at my “How We Can See the Inhumans on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” article to see how that is possible). This would make it a thousand times easier to work the Inhumans into the movies. Possible characters for this series would be Skye, Raina, Jiaying, Lincoln, Gordon, and Cal. Throw in at least one of Crystal or Karnak and you’ve got a really good cast of characters. Gordon and Skye could float between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Inhumans as the plot demands. In fact, Skye might only be part of this series for a single season before returning to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a fully trained and far more deadly Inhuman S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, leaving Raina to explore the Inhumans by herself.
The Possibility of a Character-Centric Spinoff
All of the spinoff ideas I gave focused on an ensemble cast and a comic book team or organization. That is actually intentional, because I just don’t think there’s a viable character to spin off into a solo series. The three possibilities I can think of are Quake, Mockingbird, and Deathlok, but there are issues with all of them.
Skye would be a very interesting character to explore further, especially now that she is learning all about her heritage as an Inhuman. However, a Skye-centric series just doesn’t work (in my opinion) if it’s not exploring the Inhumans plotline. They could make it work if she were to get sick of both S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans and set off on her own at the end of the season, but I don’t see that happening. So a Skye-centric series would essentially be The Inhumans (see above).
A Mockingbird series would also be interesting since she is a comic book Avenger with a long publication history. However, she is just too important to the S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline right now to be taken out of it and placed into her own independent series. If they resolve the S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline before the end of this season—or at least develop Bobbi’s character to the point of washing her hands of both organizations (something that could be coming after the last couple episodes)—then she might set out on her own in a quest to “find herself” as an agent and as a hero. This might even build up to her introduction to the movies in Captain America: Civil War next spring. However, I personally don’t see her leaving Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. right now.
Of the three characters I mentioned, I think Deathlok is the most likely to receive a solo series. He has a history of working for S.H.I.E.L.D. and Coulson, though independently. He has a very compelling story of attempting to find redemption and atone for his past sins so he can become the hero that Ace (his son) thinks he is. It would be very interesting to watch Mike taking assignments for Coulson to track down Hydra agents and interrogate them for information. It would be unique to see the inner turmoil of a man trying to do the right thing when he was forced in the past to do the wrong thing. The only issue I see with the possibility of a Deathlok TV series is the actor: J. August Richards is a hot commodity right now. There was an interview where he mentioned being on 3 or 4 shows simultaneously and how shocking it was that his schedule worked out so well. Given that he’s already a recurring character on Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce (which has already been picked up for a second season), I don’t know if he would have the time to also star in his own TV series on a channel owned by a different network. Of course, considering that Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce is only a 13-episode first season and is on a cable channel (which usually makes shorter seasons), it might be possible for the schedule to work out. If it did, then a Deathlok series would rocket up to the number 2 spot on my list of most-likely candidates for the spinoff, right behind The Inhumans.
Long story short, I am really excited about getting another hour of Marvel TV each week starting in the fall, even if that means writing two reviews every week (oh, darn). I can’t wait to find out what the spinoff show will be about and who will be in it!
So what about you? Are you excited to hear that Marvel is making a spinoff series from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? What do you want it to be about? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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