"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." was recently picked up for a full season at ABC, and head of Marvel TV Jeph Loeb talked the recently debuted series Saturday evening at New York Comic Con, joined by cast members Iain De Caestecker (Leo Fitz) and Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons).
Loeb started the panel by reminding the crowd that "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." got picked up a full 22-episode season earlier this week, and said that viewers should watch the show live, and stick around to the very end -- so as not to miss bits like the recent Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury cameo.
Loeb also shared that a year ago at New York Comic Con the show was in its earliest stage, with the announcement that Clark Gregg would return as Agent Phil Coulson on the series. De Caestecker and Henstridge then joined Loeb on the panel, arriving to a positive vocal reception for the NYCC main stage crowd.
The panel quickly turned to fan questions, the first one asking where does the bond between Fitz and Simmons stemmed from, and if it might be because they're related. "They're not related, but they do have a kind of brother-sister relationship," De Caestecker answered, adding that Henstridge says that their dynamic is also like an old married couple. "We should decide which one," Henstridge said.
The next fan asked how much the show intends to explores the backgrounds of its character. Henstridge said that since they have more episodes now, there's more room for that kind of storytelling. "You won't be disappointed."
Loeb then cued up the fourth episode, the Jeffrey Bell-written "Eye Spy," which played in full. No spoilers here, but it airs this Tuesday.
Following the episode, Loeb asked the crowd if they enjoyed what they saw, and they responded with loud cheers. "As you see, we're turning over cards very slowly, and you can start to see what we're doing," he said.
Another fan question asked if De Caestecker and Henstridge were "concerned" at all when auditioning, given executive producer Joss Whedon's reputation for killing off characters. Henstridge said that you never know what might happen in an acting gig, and it's best to just enjoy the experience in the moment. "If you get killed, watch the reruns and cry on your own," she added.
Next question asked if more pre-existing Marvel characters, like the most recent aired episode's Dr. Franklin Hall (better known as Graviton), will appear on the show. "We have the Marvel Universe that's open to us," Loeb said. "We live very much in the world that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which means it's still a young place. A lot of characters haven't shown up yet -- or maybe they have, and we haven't met them yet. It's a very delicate, and we want to do both things -- tell stories that are brand new, but there are obviously winks and nods that we do all the time."
The following question asks about the show's limitations -- like not being able to use mutants, since the live-action rights for the X-Men franchise have been with Fox for years. Loeb replied that they don't like getting into specifics about those types of things, because if they can defy expectations, they want it to be a surprise. "What we're trying to do the most is tell stories about people," Loeb answered.
Simmons is a bit more adventurous than Fitz, De Caestecker told a fan asking about their attitudes towards missions.
Well Coulson's relationship with an unnamed cellist, discussed in "The Avengers" film, be explored in the show? It's a possibility, according to Loeb. "There isn't anything that Joss Whedon has written or created that we're not going to mine all the way to the bottom of the mine," he said.
Will "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." be reflected in Phase Three of Marvel Studios? "Wouldn't that be great?" Loeb asked, before continuing by saying that the reality is 48 hours ago they didn't know if they were going to get more than 13 episodes. "The longer we're on the air, the greater that possibility becomes."
Next fan up asked if more characters from the film will show up on the series. Loeb mentioned the recently announced appearance of Titus Welliver as his "Item 47" character Agent Blake in the show's sixth episode, but added, "as Joss Whedon said, we didn't create an Easter egg farm;" thus such things will only happen when they make sense, story-wise.
Will fans find out the true circumstances behind Coulson's return? Loeb, succinctly: "Yes."
Will Fitz get a monkey, as suggested by dialogue in episode three, "The Asset"? If it were up to De Caestecker, the actor said, Fitz would already have one.
Henstridge on her love for Loki: "I just think he needs a sit down with a cup of tea, and a hug. I just need to know what's going on. He needs someone to talk to, and I think I could do that."
Will there be an "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." comic book? Loeb said he thinks it'll be easier now that there will be more episodes, but it's ultimately Marvel publishing's call -- pointing out that Marvel chief creative officer Joe Quesada was in the crowd.
Final fan question, to the cast members: What's been the best part of working on the show? Henstridge cited bonding with the cast. De Caestecker said he likes working with the show's advanced technology and gadgets, something handled frequently by his character.