Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are about to embark on their last mission. Following news the show will conclude with Season 7, stars Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge, Iain De Caestecker, Henry Simmons, Natalia Cordova-Buckley and Jeff Ward stopped by Comic-Con International in San Diego with executive producers Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, Jeff Bell and Jeph Loeb to discuss the remaining episodes of Season 6 and the final season.
Loeb took to the stage to introduce the panel, but paused to thank the fans for their dedication to the series. He then introduced the show's cast and executive producers. He saved Gregg's entrance for last, and the Avengers star entered the stage to thunderous applause.
As part of the series celebration, Loeb cued a montage overview of the series. "Season 1 is a magical place," Gregg said. "This has been such an incredible journey because, when I stepped on this stage with the cast of The Avengers in 2010... not long after that, I was dead. And this really nice guy I had met up in the green room named Whedon said, 'You're maybe not so dead'... In addition to these people on stage and Mr. Loeb and the incredible writers who found a way to something with what they were allowed to have within the Marvel Universe, I am in awe... I am very moved about the end of this journey." He called out producer Gary Brown to thank him for his contributions to the series.
"We had our last table read on Monday and in the script they put our first call sheet from the pilot," Tancharoen shared. "Now it's really hard to believe that we're at the end. I'm just so proud of everyone up here... and to all of you. Obviously, without you, we wouldn't have made it this far."
Following this, Loeb ran a reel recapping Season 2. "I was really struck by watching that but this is the year we also expanded and Henry Simmons showed up... and then we had Bobbi and Hunter... and we had all these amazing actors show up and come in and play with us," Bell recalled. "Bringing the Inhuman idea in and watching Skye become an Inhuman."
"It was great to finally understand what The Calvary was... and then when they told us it was because she kills a little girl, it was really a tough thing to wrap my mind around and yet it makes so much sense why she closed herself up," Wen said. "The people behind the cameras also contribute so much. It blows my mind when I see it again. Mark Kolpak and our vis effects team, the props, the makeup."
"It's just so remarkable that we made every episode in eight days and I don't think we would have really forced ourselves in every department to do something so miraculous if it wasn't you guys," she added, tearing up. "It's just to entertain you guys, but it is such a family and it's so miraculous when I look back at it... It brings back a lot of memories."
"We're shooting the very last episode right now, so a lot of us are feeling this... because we're going through that," Whedon shared. "Part of the reason we're really enjoying this is the characters are going through what we're going through."
Following a Season 3 reel, Loeb turned to Henstridge about her solo episode. "I mean, I got to kiss someone new! It was lonely. I did miss all my best friends," she recalled. "That was a crazy shoot... Gary Brown, we were there together... I never thought it would happen..."
"It feels like we shot that 900 years ago but also yesterday," Bennet said.
"I didn't know a damn thing about the show," Simmons said. "It was something unique, something I had never done before." As to the "Spy's Goodbye," where Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter left the series, he continued, "It was very emotional to me, I was and am very close to. So it wasn't just me acting. It really was me saying goodbye to friends I wasn't going to see on a consistent basis... I took it personally. It was my way of saying to them how much I love them and how much I'm going to miss them."
Simmons never expected to become the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. "Hell no! When I first came on, I was recurring," he said. "I was supposed to just be there for Fitz to help him out..."
"Before they kill you, they call you in to talk to you," Simmons revealed. He said Bell and Whedon called after him, and "I ran.... Becoming a director, never would I think that. Honestly, just a mechanic, working on some cars. Things gradually grew, I got out there, I got my shotgun-ax, and then Coulson died. Someone needed to step up! And then they gave it to me. Thank you, thank you."
After a Season 4 sizzle reel, Cordova-Buckley addressed the scene where Mack's daughter is claimed by the Framework while Yo-Yo sits by. "That scene was one of my favorite scenes to shoot in this show because, when you read the episode as some of the guys up here were talking about it, you don't really understand the filmmaking aspect of it... I didn't know we had to be crying for five hours... It was the final scene of Season 4 and we were there. I didn't know if I was going to be coming back and the wrap party was there waiting for us... It was probably one of the first really emotional scenes that I had... that was such an important part of Mack's story."
As to his role as a villain, De Caestecker said, "It wasn't a nice feeling to be acting like that all day, and then I suppose... I've always been so paired up with Elizabeth that it was bizarre." He said he listened to Counting Crows' "Big Yellow Taxi" and cried because he didn't have any scenes with Henstridge.
"Don't you think we're partially responsible for Gabe Luna playing the Terminator?" Tancharoen mused.
"He'll be returning as the Ghost Rider on Hulu," Loeb added.
Loeb turned to Ward after a Season 5 reel. "It was crazy. I was a cast a different part. I was cast Virgil... so I thought I was going to be there for one day," Ward revealed.
"But he killed the table read as the person who gets his face clawed in episode 2," Gregg joked.
"Jeff came in, was this one character that died. I've never been at a table read -- nobody has ever reacted that way," Bennet said. "He killed it."
"Usually, when someone dies, they give them applause at the table read. I didn't get that," he recalled. 'They gave me that part and must very much regret it,'" he thought until he found out he was returning for more. "I fell in love with all these people, working with them and being with them. They're all such talented artists... and care about each other. It comes from the bosses down to Clark to Ming to Chloe to everyone sitting up here... [They] took me in a way they didn't have to... Now, two and a half years later, I love all these people very, very much."
"I used to have the biggest laugh, and when Jeff came along, he took that crown," Wen laughed.
"It's been an honor to be part of this. I'm really lucky," Ward concluded.
Gregg weighed in on the Season 5 finale, in which Coulson leaves with May to die. "The episode was called 'The End,'" he recalled. "It was this episode where Coulson isn't entirely unhappy because he's in Tahiti, stepping into the sand with someone who's going to make him very happy, but what was written was really beautiful... The membrane between our fictional story and us is very thing... I couldn't even rehearse the scene... Nobody was more surprised than me to hear about Sarge."
A fan asked if there could be a spinoff about Quake and Simmons' Season 6 adventure in space. "I will say there's been some -- very little -- talk about a comic book following that storyline," Whedon teased.
Another wanted to know if Daisy ever read the letter Coulson wrote her before his death. "Stay tuned," Gregg said.
"This is the flagship show of Marvel Television, and the show that I love most," Loeb said, concluding the panel.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Fridays at 8 pm ET/PT on ABC. The series stars Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Henry Simmons, Iain De Caestecker, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Elizabeth Henstridge and Clark Gregg.