In “Meet the New Boss,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” introduced the new Director and — spoiler — he’s nothing like the old boss. Charismatic, bureaucratic and highly concerned with public’s view of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Director has big plans for bringing the organization back into the light after “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” revealed it had been infiltrated by Hydra agents for decades. Oh, and he may be a little Inhuman as well.
While the episode didn’t offer too many details about the Director, we got two important pieces of information: his first name is Jeffrey, and he’s absolutely Inhuman. His Inhumanity wasn’t exactly apparent upon his introduction, though he made it abundantly clear during a throwdown with one Miss Melinda May. Sickened by what could only be described as a ghost disease, May went to town on her new recruits, believing they were actually imposters — that is, until Jeffrey stepped in. When she attempted to take him down, her blow simply glanced off his face. Then, with little effort, he hoisted her up with one hand and slammed her into a wall in order to neutralize her, apologizing all the while. Shortly after, he revealed his true nature to Coulson, remarking on how important it was to Coulson that an Inhuman represented S.H.I.E.L.D.’s rebirth.
His first name, strength and invulnerability aren’t a lot to go off, but Marvel Television provided another clue when Jason O’Mara was cast in the role: the character’s “roots go back to the 1940s.” That narrows the pool down considerably, seeing as it goes all the way back to the Marvel (then Timely) Comics Golden Age. Though it was far from confirmed in the episode, all clues point to Jeffrey Mace, aka the Patriot — as well as the third person to take up Captain America’s mantle.
Let’s back up a little. Jeffrey Solomon Mace first appeared in 1941’s “The Human Torch” #4 by Ray Gill and George Mandel, where he was a reporter for the Daily Bugle who wished to be part of the war effort, just like Captain America. Though he had no superpowers of his own, he eventually donned a costume, calling himself the Patriot; during his news beats, he would become his alter ego when he spotted trouble, even earning Steve Rogers’ praise at one point. When Captain America and the Invaders were hypnotized into being Red Skull’s agents, Patriot teamed with the original Bucky as well as Blue Diamond, Jack Frost, Miss America, Red Raven, Thin Man and Whizzer to form the Liberty Legion, which defeated Red Skull and rescued Cap and his compatriots.
Following Steve Rogers’ disappearance, he adopted the Captain America mantle and led the All-Winners Squad when William Naslund — the second Cap — was killed in action. Though he was never comfortable with the leadership position, he became the second longest serving Captain America behind Steve Rogers and eventually retired from the role. He returned to news reporting during his retirement and ultimately died of cancer.
Like Ghost Rider, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” seems to be taking the character in a different direction, but the parallels are clear. Jeffrey’s abilities aren’t exactly like Cap’s, but they certainly are similar. What’s more, Jeffrey specifically namedropped Steve Rogers, citing Cap’s fall from grace following “Captain America: Civil War” — and it feels like that reference must be more than coincidental. Whether or not he’ll find himself in a position to become a superhero, Jeffrey’s ties to Jeff “Patriot” Mace seem quite evident in “Meet the New Boss.”
Starring Clark Gregg, Chloe Bennet and Ming-Na Wen, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airs Tuesday nights at 10 ET/PT on ABC.
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