Sunday, September 25, 2016

Who's the New S.H.I.E.L.D. Director?

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I think one of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind going into this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is:  “Who is the new Director and why is there such a mystery surrounding him?”  Considering that the upcoming second episode is titled “Meet the New Boss,” it seems like a pretty safe bet that we are going to learn at least a little more about him this week.  But before then I would like to run through what we know about the new Director and some possibilities for who he could really be.

I should warn you:  there really isn’t that much we know about him, and a lot of this will be pure speculation.

You have been warned.

With that said…

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What We Know So Far

Are you ready for this?

The new S.H.I.E.L.D. Director is (so far as we know) a political appointee chosen by the President to replace Coulson because the new Director doesn’t have something that Coulson does have:  a death certificate!  Because Coulson is known to have been killed in action before the Battle of New York, he can’t very well be the public face for the newly-re-legitimized S.H.I.E.L.D., now, can he?

We also know from the press over the summer that the new Director is played by Jason O’Mara and is based on a Marvel Comics character from the 1940s or so.

And that’s everything we know.

And now for the pure speculation.

Who Could He Be?

As I mentioned above, all we really know is that he is a political appointee and based on a Golden Age character.  That’s a lot of ground to cover!

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The most common speculation has centered around Jim Hammond, the original (android) Human Torch.  He was built by Phineas Horton and has the ability to generate (and eventually control) fire, an ability which he puts to use as a superhero during World War II.  The original Human Torch already made one Easter Egg appearance in the MCU, however, as an exhibit at the Stark Expo in Captain America: The First Avenger.  Still, with one artificial life-form already making an appearance this season in the form of AIDA, there is certainly the possibility of a second artificial life-form also appearing.

Following the Golden Age thread, the other major Marvel/Timely character from the Golden Age not named “Captain America” is Namor the Sub-Mariner (“Namor McKenzie”).  Namor is the half-human, half-Atlantean mutant king of Atlantis, and a major antihero throughout Marvel Comics.  He fought alongside the Invaders (Captain America, Human Torch, and their sidekicks, among others) during World War II, but he has also fought bitter wars against the surface world for their real or perceived attacks against his domain—the ocean.  His live-action film rights have been in limbo for about 2 decades, but the common speculation suggests that Marvel Studios retained the live-action television rights for all of their characters, meaning that though Namor (likely) cannot appear in a movie, he could presumably appear on television.  Even if the Director isn’t Namor himself (which seems rather unlikely), the Director could still be a character related to Atlantis.

The new Director could also be a new take on one of Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos, though that would be a very new take.  Thus far a good number of the Howling Commandos have already appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Agent Carter, including all the ones who eventually went on to become high-level S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.  Even still, they could rework it so that the new Director is the grandson of Dino Manelli or something.  They seem to be doing something like that with Jim Morita, since Kenneth Choi is playing the principal at Peter Parker’s high school in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Another option would be an early S.H.I.E.L.D. agent such as Clay Quartermain (though S.H.I.E.L.D. was not introduced until 1965 and Quartermain was not introduced until 1968).  Quartermain’s most notable comic book appearance is as the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Paranormal Containment Unit.  Considering that Ghost Rider is also appearing this season—and there is also going to be some exploration of the supernatural—it would make sense for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to explore the idea of a special unit designated specifically to respond to supernatural threats.


Ultimately, at this point in the season we have so little to go on that very few options really stand out.  Even my most likely scenarios—a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent or reinvented Howling Commando—are unlikely, as both of those properties date from the 1960s.  The more period-accurate ideas—Jim Hammond or Namor McKenzie—may have originated in 1939 and been very important and popular Golden Age heroes, but they just don’t seem very likely to be reinvented as a S.H.I.E.L.D. bureaucrat for TV.

At this point, we just have to wait for Tuesday and see if we will learn anything more about the new Director, which could potentially narrow the field of possible characters.  Of course, considering Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s track record for drawing out comic book character reveals (c.f. Skye being revealed as Daisy Johnson and “the Doctor” being revealed as Dr. Calvin Zabo), we may not get a definitive answer before the midseason finale!  My expectation is that we will get a name for him this week, but we won’t figure out who he really is or what character he’s based on for at least a couple more weeks.

So I doubt this is what you were hoping to read, but this is really all we can say for right now.  Regardless of who he turns out to be, I am already intrigued by where this plot is going to go.  Hopefully it will not disappoint!

Who do you think the new Director is?  Do you think he will be on their side, or will he be another sleeper agent?  Would you like to see Namor or Human Torch on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?  let me know in the comments!

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