With Season 3 of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.LE.D." set to debut this Tuesday on ABC, executive producers Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon remain at the helm of the series as showrunners. The pair -- husband and wife, as well as longtime creative collaborators -- wrote this week's season premiere, titled "Laws of Nature," featuring Director Phil Coulson's (Clark Gregg) team, led by the newly rechristened Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet), struggling to best handle a rapidly growing population of Inhumans.
CBR spoke with Tancharoen and Whedon last week in Los Angeles, at the red carpet premiere of the show's season premiere. The writers talked the value of the show's vocal fans -- which include the supporters of good guy-gone-bad Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) -- the debut of characters from the show including Fitz, Simmons and Melinda May in Marvel's "S.H.I.E.L.D." comic book series and the new season's expansion in scale and sheer number of characters.
CBR News: "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." has certainly cultivated a passionate audience. We're doing a fan-generated Q&A soon with the both of you, and I was stunned by the amount of questions we've received so far that concerned the character of Ward, specifically, who clearly has a lot of supporters. Is there any trend among the "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." viewers that you've found particularly interesting or surprising?
Jed Whedon: Everything we see, we're amazed by. We're still geeks enough that whenever someone's "shipping," or they have their Fitzsimmons blog, or whatever it is...
Maurissa Tanchaoren: ...and the fact that there's a whole group of "Ward Warriors," or "#StandWithWard," and the fact that they've invested so much into a character that we invented is very cool. The fact that there are debates about his character, and discussion about his character, all these things are good things. We're grateful for it. We're grateful for their voices. We appreciate everything that they feel and say.
Whedon: The things that's great about working on the show is, fans are active. They're vocal. There's all sorts of fan art we get! All that is surprising still to us. We're very surprised when someone invests that much time into something that we created. We're still excited by it.
And these are relatively new characters who exist in a very famous, long-running world, one inhabited by the likes of Iron Man and the Hulk. That has to feel good.
Whedon: It does. And they're starting to make their way into the comics, which is super-fun for us.
Tancharoen: That was a nice, geeky moment for us, to see those characters actually in comic form.
Whedon: Fitzsimmons in a comic. We're happy that people have embraced the characters. We're going to put them through their paces this year, and hopefully they'll still like them at the end.
Season 2 was different from Season 1, and now the show is headed into Season 3, which will surely be different, still. What can you say about how the show feels different for the both of you?
Whedon: Obviously, it's expanded this year. Quite a bit.
Tancharoen: So many actors to wrangle.
Whedon: It's like herding cats. It feels bigger, and the stories we're telling have more scale.
Tancharoen: There's more scale and scope, but at the same time, I think we're diving into each character's internal struggle a little bit more. You would be surprised that there's even room to do that, but somehow, there is.
Whedon: It's a blessing and a curse to sort of reinvent the show a little bit in the new season. Again, it feels that way -- we're all kind of coming to it new, and we have to learn the new rules of the new show every season. Which is a challenge, but fun.
The season premiere of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." airs 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29 on ABC.