Fan Q&A with 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' showrunners Whedon and Tancharoen
Tancharoen: We will dive into the vast history of S.H.I.E.L.D. at some point, but as with all things, we exist in the MCU and must tread lightly when it comes to reveals and storylines they plan to delve into within the films. Coulson has a deep fascination and respect for that history, so it's only natural that we will explore it in detail in time.
Michael T. looks three months into the future of Marvel Studios and asks, "In 'The Hub' viewers were left with a sense Coulson is starting to second guess S.H.I.E.L.D. Was this an idea that came up independent of a similar theme coming up in 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' or is it another case of synergy between the movies and show?"
Whedon: S.H.I.E.L.D. is a mammoth, all-seeing, all-knowing spy organization, so the moral implication of that is an unavoidable topic we can't help but explore in this universe. While our writers have always been aware of the role S.H.I.E.L.D. plays in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (yes, we've seen it -- it is very awesome) and planned some of our storylines around it, we also arrived upon those ideas naturally on our own. There's inherent drama when Director Fury and all the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are forced to operate on the fringe of society under a constantly shifting, fluid set of rules, but their moral center remains unchanged.
An even longer-tem question comes from R. Smith: "Has any of the criticism the show has received made an impact on how you intend to proceed with you two year plan?"
Tancharoen: As writers, we only aim to please. Or we aimed to please as children, which is why we became writers.
Whedon: When you're in a band and you play a song and the crowd goes to the bar to get a drink during that number, you don't play it again. So we won't keep doing things if people don't respond to them, and we take fan reaction into consideration, of course. However, we've always had a plan in place that all involved parties feel is both rewarding to those who already love the show, and to those who feel they are not getting everything they want out of it yet. But you can't please everyone, and when you don't, they seem to tweet at you.
A viewer known as Biff B. wants to know more about superpowers, asking, "We've had a lot of tech or science-based characters show up so far like Akeelah, Mike, and the other Extremis/Centipede soldiers, but are there anymore characters with powers such as Scorch coming up?"
Tancharoen: Yes. Tech served as a great entry into this world for us. Keep in mind, when our show debuted, there were only two humans alive with superpowers in the entire history of the MCU (Cap and Hulk), so we had to be very responsible with how many and how rapidly we began to introduce them.
Following the big news from this past November that multiple Marvel series will debut on Netflix starting in 2015, Geoff I. wonders, "Is there a possibility of a crossover, or at least an on-screen acknowledgment of awareness between 'AoS' and the recently announced Marvel series on Netflix?"
Whedon: There is always a possibility... it's Marvel.
Kyle V. is curious about character development, asking, "We've only had a few glimpses into [the main characters'] pasts and motivations, which makes them feel slightly boring compared to the compressed life story of whatever subject they're investigating that week. Is that a conscious decision, and will we get more definitive ideas of these protagonists in the remainder of the first season?"
Tancharoen: Unlike in the films, we have many hours to explore these characters over the span of many months, and if we are allowed to continue, that only grows. Our intent is to create interest in the characters, along with a desire to know more about them, then peel back the layers slowly but surely.
It's amazing how much people hate the word slowly these days. All of our characters are spies -- with the exception of Skye, who is fast becoming one – and are trained to play things close to the vest. But yes, as the season and show progresses, we'll be uncovering more and more about our characters... as well as meeting some new ones.
Kevin G. has the other weapon acronym-based Marvel Comics organization on the mind, asking, "What about possible interaction with S.W.O.R.D.?"
Whedon: We would love this, but as of right now, it isn't possible. Even though Joss [Whedon] created S.W.O.R.D. [during his run on "Astonishing X-Men"] and spent as much time working out the acronym as he did on the entire comic.
Another studio-bending question comes from Steve M.: "If you had the opportunity to use any one character from Marvel canon on the show, regardless of studio barriers, who would it be?"
Tancharoen: Doctor Doom.
Whedon: Or Elf With A Gun.
Tancharoen: Elf With A Gun, definitely.
This is an interesting one because based solely on the domains of the email addresses of folks who sent questions for this, the show definitely appears to have an international audience. JD L. asks, "Reportedly the show was designed to be very exportable to other, non-English-speaking countries. What effects does that have on the writing?"
Tancharoen: S.H.I.E.L.D. is a global organization, so we want to maintain an international feel. But our focus is always on making compelling and entertaining stories that transcend all boundaries! But the translations, subtitles and dubbing are out of our hands. Hopefully, they are accurate. And if not, hilarious.
David M. asks if the decades-long Marvel/DC Comics rivalry extends to TV: "'Arrow' has been a hit with The CW. Do you think there's a rivalry with that show and yours?"
Whedon: We like "Arrow." We have friends who work on it. They're cool. I guess. If they weren't too afraid to play us in softball, we'd kick their asses.
Last fan question comes from Ayelet E., inquiring, "What is the craziest theory you've ever heard about the show?"
Tancharoen: That we have a rivalry with "Arrow."
Whedon: Our exceptional post-producer, Chris Cheramie, is always voicing his speculations as to where the plot is going. They are deeply woven, inspired, well-thought-out theories that are hilariously wide of the mark. Keep trying, Cher-bear.
Let's end with this -- what should fans be watching out for with this week's episode back from winter hiatus, 'The Magical Place'?"
Whedon & Tancharoen: Answers.
"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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