Friday, September 25, 2015

AoS Preview: The Advanced Threat Containment Unit

Image Courtesy

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3 will kick off on Tuesday with its season premiere, when we will meet some of the new characters and organizations which will be appearing this season.  However, before then there is still one final topic which I want to talk about.  On Wednesday I talked about one of the antagonists for the season, the Inhuman named Lash.  Today, I’m going to talk about the other new antagonist:  the Advanced Threat Containment Unit and its leader, Rosalind Price, played by Constance Zimmer.

Before we get started, there are a couple of things we need to note.  First, the “Advanced Threat Containment Unit” does not have an equivalent in Marvel Comics anywhere, though there are some possible parallels.  Second, Constance Zimmer’s character also does not have a Marvel Comics equivalent, though there are several “Rosalinds” and “Prices,” some even with S.H.I.E.L.D. connections.  She could still be a character from the comics (in the same way that Skye turned out to be Daisy Johnson), but we can’t really speculate about that at this juncture.  If they had announced her name and she was playing a comic book character, that could have significantly changed our understanding of the Advanced Threat Containment Unit and its storyline; that her character is not from the comics makes it more or less irrelevant to this discussion.

With that out of the way, here are my three options for what the Advanced Threat Containment Unit might be, if it is an adaptation of a comic book organization.

Image Courtesy
Mutant Response Division

The first possibility is to look at what this organization is going to be doing:  responding to the potential threat of enhanced individuals.  In the comics, the United Nations forms a “Mutant Response Division” after a terrorist organization overloads several mutants, causing their powers go berserk, which killed the mutants and caused massive civilian casualties.  The M.R.D. hunts down mutants all over the world as part of an anti-mutant plot.

The Mutant Response Division itself cannot appear in the MCU because it is presumably owned by FOX, along with its leader, Bolivar Trask.  However, Marvel could create a similar organization in the MCU to deal with the growing threat of super humans now that new Inhumans are going to be popping up all over the world.  If the A.T.C.U. is taking some of its cues from the M.R.D., then we may find out that the A.T.C.U. was created in response to an incident in which an enhanced person caused major civilian casualties, either accidentally, intentionally, or because the enhanced was being controlled by an outside force.  However, that’s not exactly necessary.

This would be the easiest and simplest explanation for who the A.T.C.U. is and what they are doing, but for the purposes of this article it’s not an overly exciting answer.

Image Courtesy

One of the common theories out there is that the Advanced Threat Containment Unit is simply a smaller team or unit within a larger organization.  If that is the case, then one option is the “Sentient World Observation and Response Department” or “S.W.O.R.D.”  In the comics, S.W.O.R.D. is the space-based equivalent of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Where S.H.I.E.L.D.’s focus is on terrestrial threats, S.W.O.R.D.’s focus is on the extraterrestrial, and they have the space station to prove it.  They play a major role in many space- and alien-based storylines in the comics, including the Skrull invasion.  Considering that in the preview clip released yesterday the A.T.C.U. seems to be under the impression that Joey (the new Inhuman) is an “alien threat,” it is entirely possible that their organization was founded specifically to counter extra-terrestrial threats.

Additionally, S.W.O.R.D. could be fit into the MCU very easily.  As a matter of fact, it was even referenced in a deleted scene from Thor as one of the organizations whose satellites Selvig was using.

While we have not yet seen any S.H.I.E.L.D. space-faring technology in the MCU, we can make an educated guess that S.H.I.E.L.D. has some space-faring capabilities.  The primary piece of evidence comes in “Beginning of the End,” AoS 1x22, when Fitz says of the pods that they are designed to be compatible with all S.H.I.E.L.D. submarines, aircraft, and “spacecraft.”  Why would the pods be designed to go into space if they don’t have a way of going into space?  Likewise, they make a few comments about alien space ships in “The Well,” AoS 1x08, while cleaning up the wreckage of Malekith’s ship.  Based on these things we can make a reasonable assumption that S.H.I.E.L.D. has some spacecraft, possibly even a few of alien origin, and that the old S.H.I.E.L.D. had undertaken some space exploration, though probably not much beyond Earth’s moon.

If all of that is the case, then I think it would be entirely possible for S.W.O.R.D. to have formed in much the same way that Gonzales’ “Real S.H.I.E.L.D.” formed:  following the Hydra uprising, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s space command succeeded in defeating any Hydra traitors in their midst and retaining much—if not all—of their assets.  They then formed their own independent organization—under government oversight—to protect the earth from space-based threats.  The A.T.C.U. may then be S.W.O.R.D.’s terrestrial strike force to deal with any aliens on earth.

Image Courtesy

This is something of a dark horse candidate, but it is an intriguing possibility.  Just promise you’ll read through the whole thing, okay?

Norman Osborn is going to be on the way to the MCU sooner or later now that Marvel Studios has a deal in place with Sony.  What if they are planning to start planting seeds in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3 with his H.A.M.M.E.R. organization?  In the comics, Osborn manipulates the U.S. government into allowing him to form H.A.M.M.E.R. as an alternative to the then-disgraced S.H.I.E.L.D. following the Skrull Invasion.  Because the Skrulls were able to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. and compromise all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Stark-provided Stark Tech equipment, the government believed that they could no longer trust S.H.I.E.L.D. or Stark Industries.  In essence, H.A.M.M.E.R. takes the place of both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Stark Industries while both are disgraced.

Does this sound familiar?

In the MCU, Stark Industries has been out of the weapons game ever since Iron Man in 2008, with Hammer Industries and (more recently) Pym Technology taking its place.  However, Pym is completely gone now and we haven’t really heard anything about Hammer Industries since Justin Hammer was sent to prison following the events of Iron Man 2.  Likewise, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been disgraced and consigned to the shadows ever since the Hydra uprising in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  Following the Hydra uprising, the Avengers stepped up to take on a bigger role in providing world security… and then Ultron happened.  Following Tony Stark’s creation of Ultron and Ultron’s subsequent attempt to cause an extinction-level event and wipe out humanity, the world lost its faith in Tony Stark and the Avengers.  But what is going to take the Avengers’ place?

What if Norman Osborn has been part of the MCU ever since Iron Man 2 as one of the executives at Hammer Industries (read the whole thing before flaming) who has been keeping the company going while Justin Hammer is in prison.  Sometime in the last couple years Osborn succeeded in getting himself elected C.E.O. of Hammer Industries, and ever since then he’s been working to improve the company’s public image while planning his own takeover of the company.

Meanwhile, following the events of the last two years (Hydra and Ultron), what if the U.S. government has decided that it needs to consolidate its intelligence and security agencies to improve the chances of detecting things like Hydra and Ultron before they become major threats, and that the existing answers—S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers—can no longer be trusted.  Consequently, they are looking to replace S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers with a single entity to perform the functions of both.  And who better to head up this organization than the C.E.O. of the government’s new primary weapons supplier, Norman Osborn?

Osborn for his part sees this as an opportunity to improve the reputation of Hammer Industries in the public mind and names the new organization “H.A.M.M.E.R.” (because that’s as good an explanation as any for calling it “Hammer”)—knowing that if the whole thing blows up his own name and reputation would still be intact.  Under the banner of H.A.M.M.E.R. there are several smaller groups and teams, including the Advanced Threat Containment Unit, led by Rosalind Price, and perhaps eventually an iteration of the Thunderbolts team consisting of enhanced people “contained” by the A.T.C.U.  This organization and its associated teams would be supplied with weapons and equipment by Hammer Industries (which Osborn will eventually rebrand as “OsCorp,” just in time for the Spider-Man movie).

If they did this, it would be a good way to bring Norman Osborn into the MCU quickly in a high position without needing to explain where such a well-known megalomaniac and schemer has been for the last 7 years.  It would also allow Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and eventually Spider-Man) to build off of a plot point from Iron Man 2 which was never really explained or resolved, namely Hammer Industries.


Of the three options, I think the third would be the most interesting for how it could connect to the rest of the MCU and help to set up a major villain going forward into Phase 4 and beyond.  However, I think that the second option is the most likely based on everything we know so far.

Regardless of whether or not Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be picking up on any comic book storylines with the Advanced Threat Containment Unit, I think that seeing some form of government interest in the Inhumans will provide an interesting alternative perspective on these events.  We know how S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to react, and we have a pretty good idea of how Hydra will react.  We can make some guesses as to how Lash and other Inhumans will react to the new Inhumans.  But how will the U.S. government respond to this kind of “public health crisis”?  That’s the question, and it’s one that could definitely tie in to Captain America: Civil War in the spring.

What do you think that the Advanced Threat Containment Unit is all about?  Do you think that it is associated with an organization from the comics?  Let me know in the comments!

If you want to get an email whenever I publish a new article, go to the top of the page and enter your email address in the box labeled “Subscribe to Mostly MCU Reviews” and click “Submit.”

1 comment: