Friday, October 30, 2015


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I’m just going to go ahead and say SPOILERS right off the bat because the entire premise of this article is one big SPOILER for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3, episode 5, “4,722 Hours.”  Of course, considering that this particular spoiler has been breaking the Internet for the last several days…

With that being said, let’s get into it.

Assuming that you watched Tuesday’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you probably are asking the same question as I have been:  what’s up with Will Daniels?  While she was on the alien planet, Simmons came across the remains of a N.A.S.A. mission from 2001 which sent four astronauts through the Monolith to explore the planet on the other side.  Of the four astronauts, three killed themselves or went mad, leaving the fourth alone on the planet for 14 years.  That fourth astronaut was still there to meet Simmons and help her survive for most of her time on the planet.

Ever since the episode, something about Will’s back story has been bugging me:  he sounds exactly like a comic book hero or villain, but I can’t figure out who.  Will was a U.S. Air Force test pilot before being recruited into N.A.S.A.’s astronaut pilot program.  Though we do not know if he had gone on any missions before this one (“Pathfinder,” presumably), he volunteered to be the commander of this mission.  In fact, he has made a habit of “doing the impossible” all through his career.  This sounds like a clear-cut superhero origin story, and it’s bugging me that I can’t place it with a superhero.  So I did some further thinking and came up with a few options of heroes with a space-based origin or who are themselves astronauts, though most of them are long shots at best.

I could only come up with three (okay, six) human superheroes with some sort of astronaut/cosmic origin story—leaving Peter Quill’s Star-Lord out of consideration since he’s already made an appearance in a little-known independent production called Guardians of the Galaxy, or something like that.  I’m not overly thrilled with any of these options, but here goes.

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The Fantastic Four

When you think space-based superhero origin stories, this one should top the list.  In their original origin story (the one followed in the 2005 movie), the Fantastic Four undertake a mission to space and are hit by cosmic rays that give them super powers.  In their more recent Ultimate Universe origin story (the one followed in the 2015 “movie”), the Fantastic Four travel by portal to a different dimension, an action which gives them their powers.  You should be able to see the parallels between the Fantastic Four origin story and Will:  Will is an explorer who traveled to a different planet (we’re assuming not a different dimension) by portal.  The planet’s conditions—particularly the increased gravity—may be such that his physiology is altered when he returns to Earth, particularly after so much time.  The idea here is that the planet’s conditions are responsible for the changes.

In the broad strokes, this origin story would be entirely possible if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. decides to turn Will into a superhero, particularly one with super-strength.  However, I do not see Will becoming one of the new MCU Fantastic Four.  First off, everything they’ve said so far has indicated that FOX has no intention of giving up the Fantastic Four rights.  Second, even with the four mixed/failed movies, I still think that if Marvel were going to reboot the Fantastic Four franchise they would do so with a movie, not on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (even though TV has worked well to reboot Daredevil, and potentially Punisher).  Third, even if Marvel Studios did receive the rights back, I think less than three months after the last one may be a little early for them to introduce their own version of the team.  Fourth, Will is just one man, not a full team of four (though there were four astronauts, so…).

Long story short, even if they adapt the concept of the planet’s conditions altering Will’s biology, I don’t think he’s going to be the MCU version of Reed Richards.  Maybe Ben Grimm.

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Vance Astro, Major Victory

Vance Astro is a former U.S. Air Force pilot and astronaut who volunteered for Earth’s first manned interstellar mission.  Because the ship was not capable of faster-than-light travel, the trip to Alpha Centauri was expected to take a millennium; consequently his body was covered in a copper alloy to preserve his skin and his blood was transfused with preservative.  He was placed in cryogenic sleep from which he was woken up to perform occasional course adjustments.  During the mission he developed and mastered his psychokinetic abilities.

When he arrived on Alpha Centauri, Vance discovered that Earth had made it there 200 years before him.  Shortly after his arrival, the Badoon methodically started taking over the galaxy, leading Vance to team up with the last surviving Centaurian (Yondu), last Jovian (Charlie-27), and last Plutonian (Martinex) to form the original Guardians of the Galaxy team.

While there are elements of Vance Astro’s story which jive well with Will’s—specifically the long periods of loneliness that both characters faced and which drove them mad—I don’t think this is the direction Marvel is going, either.  If Vance Astro does appear in the MCU, I expect it to be in a Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

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John Jameson, Man-Wolf

John Jameson is the son of J. Jonah Jameson and joined N.A.S.A. as an astronaut after a stint with the U.S. Air Force.  On a manned mission to the Moon, Jameson discovered a red gemstone which he placed in an amulet.  When the gem came in contact with lunar light, it caused Jameson to transform into a wolf-like creature.  Eventually he learned that the gem contains the essence of an extra-dimensional ruler known as the Stargod.  In Stargod’s own realm, the gem gives Jameson the Stargod’s strength as well as his wisdom.  On Earth, he only possessed Stargod’s strength and appearance, causing him to behave like a wolf.  He was eventually rescued from the gem by Spider-Man.

Man-Wolf would certainly be an interesting route for them to go with Will, but this doesn’t quite seem to fit, either.  We never saw any evidence of a significant gemstone on the planet, and there was nothing on the planet to indicate that it was inhabited by the Stargod’s race.  Additionally, John Jameson was on the Earth’s moon, not in a distant solar system.  Without the connection to the moon, the fact that his powers are activated by the full moon would make very little sense.

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So this might be diverging way too much from what we know of the situation, but hear me out.  Do you remember the “Rape of Ms. Marvel” storyline?  No; blocked it from your memory?  Let me unblock it:  in the 1980s Ms. Marvel is kidnapped and taken to an alternate dimension by “Marcus,” who is apparently the son of Immortus.  Marcus essentially roofies Carol and impregnates her with a version of himself before sending her back to Earth where she sort-of gives birth to her rapist.  Evidently, this was the only way for Marcus to actually get to Earth and stay there: by being born there.  Weird enough for you?  Needless to say, I highly doubt that this will be in the final script for 2019’s Captain Marvel!

This could potentially fit with the events on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:  “Will” may simply be an avatar assumed by “Death,” or whatever entity is living on the planet and killing everyone who goes there.  This entity may have decided the only way to escape would be to seduce Simmons over the course of her stay on the planet on the off-chance that she would escape back to Earth because it wanted to go to Earth but is confined to the planet.  If this is the case, then it may have impregnated Simmons with a copy of itself to which she will give birth and which will attempt to destroy the Earth.  Now that would be pretty wild!

Having said that, I really don’t think Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to do anything like this because it would just be too weird.  Plus there’s the whole “turning a strong female character into a sexual object and literal baby factory” issue, also…

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Ego the Living Planet

I’ve seen this theory proposed at least a couple times on Reddit, but no one has done a better job of explaining it than this image.

Based on this theory, Will may not exist but instead be a “humanoid antibody” bestowed with a measure of Ego’s power in order to protect Ego and eliminate any potential threats that would harm Ego.  This would also help to explain why Will looks substantially younger than the timeline would otherwise allow—Will looks to be in his 20s or 30s, but after a N.A.S.A. career of at least a couple years (starting around 30, which is still on the young side for N.A.S.A. consideration) as well as 14 years alone on the planet, he should be at least in his 40s and should probably look quite a bit older than that.

This is definitely an intriguing possibility, and the evidence is well-founded, but I’m not sure if I buy Will being nothing but an avatar of the planet.  The end-credits scene of the episode seemed to go out of its way to show that Will does actually exist.


Those are just about all the comic book characters and stories I could find which might fit with these particular circumstances and explain who/what Will is.  Unfortunately, none of the options I’ve come up with really fit the story as we know it now.  As such, I think it’s entirely possible that either Will’s story is a combination of several astronauts from the comics or is completely invented for this series.  I would not be surprised at all if it is the latter, though I can’t help but think that his story is about as obviously an “origin story” as Mike Peterson’s was in the series premiere—and we all know how that turned out (*cough*Deathlok*cough*).

Hopefully we will learn more of the story behind Will’s character soon.

Do you know of any comic book astronauts that I missed?  Do you think Will is even a comic book character?  Do you want to see him gain superpowers?  Let me know in the comments!

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