Nobody gets the drop on Mockingbird. Introduced in 1971's "Astonishing Tales" #6, Barbara "Bobbi" Morse was conceived more as a scientist with ties to S.H.I.E.L.D. than a top operative. It wasn't until the '80s that Bobbi was firmly established as a formidable and resourceful agent who teamed up with Hawkeye, married him and became an Avenger. Now, the character has joined Marvel's sophomore ABC TV series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
Making her debut in the episode "A Hen in the Wolf House," Adrianne Palicki's Bobbi appears to be head of Hydra's security. However, she actually infiltrated the terrorist organization on behalf of S.H.I.E.L.D. and rejoined the team once her cover was blown.
Palicki, who previously flirted with superhero stardom in NBC's failed "Wonder Woman" pilot, spoke to CBR News about breathing life into Mockingbird, weapons training, Hawkeye and pleasing the fans.
CBR News: As far as superheroes go, television viewers recognize you as Kara from "Smallville" and the lead in the unaired "Wonder Woman" pilot. After two DC characters, how did you end up in the Marvel Universe and on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."?
Adrianne Palicki: I got really lucky. It was flattering. I got a phone call that they were interested in me for the character. I took a meeting with the showrunners [Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen], who are amazing. It was love at first sit down. It was about figuring out who Bobbi and Mockingbird were. Doing the action and playing a comic book character again was very appealing to me. That was how it unfolded.
Bobbi has such a rich history in the comic books. What was your take on what made her a super-spy?
The thing I love is she's not a "superhero." She doesn't have superpowers. She's rich in the sense of Natasha/Black Widow. Bobbi is a martial artist. She's a very strong female. She's incredibly gifted. That was a fun aspect about the character, is that she's just badass without any glitz or glamour.
Mockingbird is an expert fighter, whose choice of weapons are two battle staves. How extensive was the training for this role?
The nice thing is I learned Jiu Jitsu for "John Wick." I did hand-to-hand combat for "Wonder Woman." I've had tons of gun training with Navy SEALs. That stuff was already there. Learning the batons was the next level for me. It's been a lot of fun learning that technique. It's one of those things where I'm learning a new routine every week. It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun at the same time.
What were your thoughts on how they reimagined Mockingbird's costume for the TV series?
I loved it. They showed me the design well before it was actually made. I told Ann Foley, who is our costume designer, that, "This is brilliant. People are going to love it." It's always a nerve-wracking thing. I don't know if you remember when the Wonder Woman costume was released and how people were up-in-arms and went crazy. I felt when I saw this one that people were going to absolutely love the outfit. And it's super-comfortable, so there's that.
That's the important thing.
It really is. I don't need three people to help me get it off.
It turns out Bobbi and Lance Hunter [Nick Blood] were once hitched. What's been enjoyable about that dynamic?
It adds a little bit of lightheartedness to the show. All of a sudden, there's this weird humor and drama between these two characters. It's a different aspect the show hasn't had. Getting to play that, and trying to get through scenes with Nick, is really funny because we make each other laugh all the time. Some of those scenes are ridiculous, like when we shot the guy in the middle of our conversation. I probably laughed through half the takes. I love having that dynamic and working with Nick.
Is Bobbi bonding with any of her other teammates?
She's still trying to figure out where she belongs. I really love the relationship they created between Simmons [Elizabeth Henstridge] and Bobbi because there's almost like a sisterly relationship that's developing there. I think it adds a vulnerable side to Bobbi, which is really important. Throughout the show, we're going to start to explore the people she's shared a past with and who she's worked with before.
Can you preview this week's episode, "The Writing on the Wall," and Bobbi's arc beyond that?
The alien writing comes to a head with Coulson's [Clark Gregg] secrets and what he's been hiding with that. It's interesting because Bobbi came in the middle of that whole thing. She's not aware of all the stuff that has been happening behind the scenes. She's trying to get a sense of some of the other agents and their reactions to what's been going on. You will also get a deeper view of Bobbi and Hunter's relationship.
Are viewers going to learn more about Bobbi's history and her time as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent?
Yes. With S.H.I.E.L.D., you're going to get a bigger sense of what, and where, she comes from. Again, it's going to be a slow burn. It's going to be layers and layers peeled back over the episodes. Little hints.
In the comic books, Bobbi and Clint Barton, AKA Hawkeye, were married. Have you discussed how that relationship could play out or whether Mockingbird belongs in "The Avengers?"
There's been discussions, but nothing has been officially said or done. Obviously, the Hawkeye relationship has to come to light at some point because it was such a huge part of Mockingbird. I don't know if that's just going to be referenced, or if Jeremy [Renner] is going to come on the show in the future. At some point, it's definitely going to have to be said.
Lastly, you've been down the superhero road before. Do you still feel that pressure to get the character right and please the fans?
Absolutely. That will never go away. At the end of the day, the fans are the ones that make the show. They are the ones who made Marvel what it is today. They are the readers and the audience. Their opinion matters. Of course I was nervous going into this, not wanting to disappoint anyone. You also have to go, "I've been through this before." You just jump into it and hope they like you. Thankfully, the fans have been so supportive of me in this role and Mockingbird. I couldn't be happier, or more flattered, and thankful for that.
Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." airs Tuesdays on ABC.