When “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” started two years ago, much of the show’s plots dealt with human characters — of course, highly trained super-spy humans — dealing with the fallout of the superhuman activity inherent in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Heading into its third season, the ABC series now deals much more directly with superpowers — especially with one of the main characters, Daisy Johnson (the former Skye, played by Chloe Bennet) revealed as an earthquake-generating Inhuman and now tasked with finding more like her throughout the world, as the Inhuman population has exploded as a result of events at the end of last season.
CBR News caught up with “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” executive producer Jeffrey Bell earlier this week in Los Angeles, at the red carpet premiere of the show’s season premiere, “Laws of Nature.” Bell talked the different character dynamics of season three, how the steadily increasing presence of Inhumans have changed the series and the executing visually impressive superpowers on a network TV budget.
CBR News: Jeffrey, obviously season two of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” was very different from season one, given the rise of Inhumans and more. Surely season three is different still — what new elements have you excited about the show going into the new season?
Jeffrey Bell: I think my favorite thing about this season is how we’re changing some of the pairings up. One of the things that I think makes the show interesting is seeing how characters interact. Putting Mack and Daisy together; putting Hunter and May together; putting Bobbi and Fitz together — suddenly you have all these different dynamics, all these different stories that you didn’t have before. I think people will get a kick out of seeing those, as well as Coulson’s new hand. [Laughs]
There’s lots of cool tech stuff — we got a new plane, — that kind of stuff. Really, what’s fun for us to write are the new characters. We’ve got Constance Zimmer coming in as the head of some other group. Where in the past, Coulson frequently plays sort of a paternal role on the show, because Daisy is kind of a surrogate daughter figure — suddenly there’s another adult, who can banter, who can hold her own, and there’s something nice about seeing him in that relationship. We’re having Blair Underwood back a little bit. I think all the writers love writing scenes with characters in different combos, and I think the fans will really like watching those as well.
Its obviously a big chance seeing more people with superpowers on the the show — and on the team itself. Now there are characters like Lash coming to the show, who are very “inhuman” looking. How has that shift worked to the show’s advantage? And is there also still a balance to keep the human level that has been a hallmark of the show?
In the first year, “not all heroes are super” was the tagline. And yet, people like a little super. Finding a balance is our ongoing goal. You always try and top what you did last year. Introducing Daisy with powers — [felt] like that went pretty successfully. Bringing on other characters; Lincoln with his [pantomimes electrical powers]. So we’ll see. It’s always tricky. We’re not trying to get bigger just to get bigger, but to expand the show, and tell bigger theme-y stuff. Inhumans are a nice metaphor for what a lot of people are going through.
We’ll see. It’s a challenge to do big effects on a show, and do it well. Especially when you go to the movies — “They had $10 million for the first four minutes!”
It sounds like viewers are going to see more and more Inhumans as the season progresses. Creatively, what kind of an opportunity is that? By the nature of Inhumans, as we’ve seen in the comics, the powers can kind of be anything — how much fun is that as a writer? It feels fairly wide-open.
It is, but we have to do a couple things: Can we afford to produce this effect? Because every time last year Gordon went “bamf!,” we went, “Wow, that was [expensive].” We want to do things we can do well, and that are visually interesting, and ideally serve as a metaphor somehow.
One of the challenges with Inhumans is, outside of the royal family, there aren’t a lot of characters who are super well-known. I think there’s an opportunity for us to develop that. Even Ms. Marvel in the comics, is technically an Inhuman — I think Marvel’s relying that more and more to explain how characters became powered. We’ve got some new ones coming this year, and I hope people like them.
The third season premiere of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airs 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29 on ABC.
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