Whedon's S.H.I.E.L.D. Cast Descriptions Surface Online

Joss Whedon has been perhaps understandably cryptic about ABC's recently greenlit S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, teasing only that the television drama will be "autonomous" from Marvel's "Avengers" film franchise, and will introduce new characters. But now we actually have an idea just who those characters will be.

TVLine has obtained cast descriptions for the project, which centers on the global espionage and law-enforcement agency that's helped to provide the connective tissue between the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As part of his three-year exclusive deal with Marvel Studios, Whedon will co-write the pilot with his brother Jed Whedon and Jed's wife Maurissa Tancharoen, who will serve as executive producers/showrunners along with Jeffrey Bell ("Angel," "Alias").

Here are the outlines for the five central characters:

Skye: This late-20s woman sounds like a dream: fun, smart, caring and confident -- with an ability to get the upper hand by using her wit and charm.

Agent Grant Ward: Quite the physical specimen and "cool under fire," he sometimes botches interpersonal relations. He's a quiet one with a bit of a temper, but he's the kind of guy that grows on you.

Agent Althea Rice: Also known as "The Calvary," this hard-core soldier has crazy skills when it comes to weapons and being a pilot. But her experiences have left her very quiet and a little damaged.

Agent Leo Fitz and Agent Jemma Simmons: These two came through training together and still choose to spend most of their time in each other's company. Their sibling-like relationship is reinforced by their shared nerd tendencies -- she deals with biology and chemistry, he's a whiz at the technical side of weaponry.

"It's new characters. It needs to be its own thing," Whedon said earlier this month. "It needs to be adjacent [to the Marvel Cinematic Universe] but you don't want to do a show where you're constantly going, 'Iron Man just left, but he was totally here a minute ago.' You want them to go off on their own thing and say, 'Well, what has S.H.I.E.L.D. got that the other heroes don't have?' [...] Part of that, to me, is that they're not superheroes, but they live in that universe. That makes them a little bit -- even though they're a big organization -- underdogs, and that's interesting to me."

Production will begin immediately, with S.H.I.E.L.D. targeted to be Marvel's first live-action television series since its purchased by Disney in 2009.

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