In the midst of its fifth season, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has continued to upend fan's expectations with some major developments -- quite literally putting the fate of the world at stake.
The show returns to WonderCon in Anaheim on Saturday afternoon with a panel including series stars Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Henry Simmons, Natalia Cordova-Buckley and Jeff Ward; executive producers Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen and Jeffrey Bell, and Head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb.
Loeb took the podium, saying the panel was the show's chance to thank the fans for supporting more than 100 episodes. Jeff Ward then came out on stage, and Loeb asked him why he was out there. "They told Jeff to come out," Ward said, with Chloe Bennet then jokingly escorting him off stage. "He's new," she told the crowd. "They'll be back out," Loeb said.
Loeb polled the audience on their favorite Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season. Season one got a fairly good reception, but season two -- especially when Loeb named Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter -- beat it. Season three got healthy applause, but season four -- and the namedrop of Ghost Rider -- had more enthusiasm. Season five got a good reaction, but less than four (or at least Ghost Rider). "Honestly, I can't pick," Loeb said. "Here's where I think we'll all agree -- that we want more."
That led to Loeb asking the crowd to chant "We want more." "We want to say this loud enough so the people at ABC can hear this," Loeb told the audience.
Loeb then brought out the full panel. "This is his first anything," Loeb said of Jeff Ward, a newcomer to the series as of this season. Loeb pointed out that Clark Gregg was not in attendance -- "As difficult as it is to all of you, it is 100 times more difficult for our captain." Loeb said that Gregg was in Washington D.C. today for March For Our Lives.
Loeb introduced a video from Gregg, greeting the WonderCon crowd. "I am heartbroken not to be with you today," Gregg said in the clip, then introducing a sizzle reel of highlights from the show's first 100 episodes.
"What an amazing, amazing testament to how hard all of these people work," Loeb said following the reel. Loeb then opened up the floor to fan questions.
First person at the microphone praised the show for having two Asian-American lead characters, then asked about if the reaction from fans have affected the storylines. "It's one of the things hat I don'd think the show gets enough credit for," Loeb said, praising the show's executive produces. "From the very beginning, they said, 'We want a show that looks like the world,' not what's on television. This is what the world looks like, this is what America looks like."
Tancharoen said she met a fan today who was inspired to study science due to Simmons. "That means so much to us," Tancharoen said.
Loeb then jokingly asked why, in the light of all the representation, Deke was introduced on the show. "We really wanted to represent everyone," Whedon said. "You can't just have all these beautiful people that are sane." (Bennet assured the crowd the jokes about Ward were delivered with love.)
The next fan asked what it was like when Bennet found out she was cast as Daisy Johnson, and she pointed out that's not the role she was initially cast for. "I got the character of Skye, actually, who was a degenerate living in her van," Bennet answered. "They said, 'She's perfect!'" She said in season 2, she saw a fan website guessing what character she may be, and Daisy Johnson/Quake was one -- so when Loeb told her she was getting powers, she asked him if that meant she was going to play Quake.
Next question: What inspired the role of infamous '90s alcoholic beverage Zima in Season 5? "Deke's a very particular guy," Whedon answered. "We figured he'd be disappointed with the taste of beer, so Zima was the next natural thing."
A fan asked, "What was the most challenging scene Ming-Na Wen did in Season 3?" "The wonderful thing was, I got to work with Blair Underwood as my husband, Andrew," she answered. "That wasn't a relationship that worked out well, unfortunately."
Given the amount of failed relationships on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., should couples like Mack and Yo-Yo be worried? "Having a relationship in this line of work, it's complicated," Tancharoen said. "They're always against the end of the world. You've got to squeeze in the intimacy moments." "Are you talking about us now?" Whedon, Tancharoen's husband, jokingly asked.
Next question, from a young fan in Carl Grimes cosplay: Will more movie characters make their way to the show, in the tradition of Sif? "In fairness, we have," Loeb said. "Some of you may remember that everyone's favorite Fury was on the show, Sam Jackson. It's always a challenge to work around the schedule of movie stars -- but we're really lucky we got one as the lead of our show."
A fan asked Bennet if there were any cast members she wished she had more screen time with. "Season 3, me and Henry were partners," Bennet replied. "I really liked working with Henry. Patton [Oswalt] is really fun to work with."
Bennet reached Gregg briefly via FaceTime, who simply told the crowd, "I love WonderCon!"
Next question: "What was your favorite movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?" Simmons: "Black Panther." De Caestecker: "They're all good." Henstridge: "Black Panther." Ward: "I loved Panther. I recently told Clark I think Black Panther was my favorite Marvel movie. He looked at me and said, 'Avengers was pretty good.' I said, 'Yeah, it was!' He said, 'It's paying your bills!' I changed my answer."
What will be the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. characters' reactions to the events of Avengers: Infinity War? "The thing that we love about what our show has become is, the movies sort of blaze a path," Whedon said. "Doctor Strange introduced magic, all of a sudden we could have Ghost Rider on our show. We're just waiting for that movie to come out, so it can open up a whole new playground for us."
The panel then wrapped with an extended clip from next Friday's episode -- but in a twist, it was from the end of the episode, rather than the beginning.