In their comics, animation or live-action universes, Marvel's heroes have no shortage of iconic weapons. Whether it’s Captain America’s shield, Thor’s mighty hammer Mjolnir or Wolverine’s adamantium claws, these weapons have been displayed prominently and with the respect they demand. Now, it’s time for a new weapon to join their ranks: Agents of SHIELD’s Shotgun Ax, owned and welded to great effect by Alfonso “Mack” Mackenzie.
Like all great things, it began with a simple idea. In the premiere of the show’s third season, Mack journeyed with Daisy Johnson to recruit Lincoln Campbell for the spy agency’s Secret Warriors program. During their pitch, the three are attacked by the Inhuman Lash, whereupon Mack makes the offhand remark that begins it all. “I need a bigger gun, or my ax... maybe a shotgun/ax combination of some sort.”
At first, it seemed like a random joke, something Mack would say because it’s been established that he’s knowledgeable about movie tropes, and the three of them were trapped in a hospital with a deadly monster at that moment. It makes sense for him to think about making a gun that's also a melee weapon, because of course. But this is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where everything must have a pay off. Thus, we got our first look at the Shotgun Ax when Mack had to Dead Rising one out of his dad’s old shotgun and the butcher knife in his brother’s house. It was clear that this was going to be a slow burn, as the question changed from whether the Shotgun Ax would be a thing to when it would be a thing.
Mack's DIY weapon finally made its true debut in the Season 3 finale, during a final fight with Hive’s Inhuman Primitives, and the long wait between setup and execution was worth seeing it in its full glory. Like the Agents themselves, the Shotgun Ax has been through a lot over the last two years, from slicing up duplicitous LMDs to trying to dispose of evil ghosts. It even briefly made its way into space during the first half of the current season where it got to do what few weapons can dream of: Kill mindless aliens in space and impale an alien tyrant.
The Shotgun Ax is a weapon that best fits in the SHIELD corner of the MCU. If Valkyrie wound up with one in Thor: Ragnarok, for example, it would be awesome, but it would also take you out of the moment. But the remnants of a spy agency that deals with Nazis, alien families, and mutated scientists on a weekly basis? Yeah, those are situations that would require both a firearm and melee weapon combined together. Perhaps it's nowhere near the level of importance as a Vibranium shield or magical hammer, but there's a unique charm to it. Like the show it resides in, the Shotgun Ax is better and more effective than one would think it'd be.
SHIELD is reaching what may be its end in just a handful of months, and the future currently doesn't sound too good for Mack. If he does indeed die, as he has in previous times the Agents have tried to save the world, let's hope that he goes out the right way -- taking some bad guys down with the weapon he brought into this world.