Agents of SHIELD showrunners interview

The third season finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. jumped ahead six months, with (spoiler alert) the S.H.I.E.L.D. team pursuing a runaway Daisy (Chloe Bennet) who can apparently fly. Prior to the time jump Hive (Brett Dalton) met his demise, the second time Dalton’s character has died on the show. Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) also sacrificed himself for the greater good.

Season four not only has to deal with that aftermath, but also promises to introduce Ghost Rider with Gabriel Luna as Robbie Reyes. We spoke with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen at a Marvel Television cocktail party for the Television Critics Association. 

Is Brett Dalton really gone for good this time?

Whedon: Is anyone in the Marvel universe ever gone?

Tancharoen: Yeah, no one is ever really gone in the Marvel universe.

Does that go for Luke Mitchell too?

Tancharoen: It goes for all people.

Whedon: Yeah, I mean, our show, if we were to say they’re gone for good, our show is based on a guy who basically died. There’s always a chance in the Marvel universe but they will not be around when we come back.

So Daisy can fly now?

Tancharoen: Essentially. She can leap very, very, very far distances.

How often are you able to utilize that power? Is it a big one to pull off narratively and practically?

Whedon: Well, as we saw when she first got her power, there’s a price with it. There’s a price that comes with your power. You can’t use it all the time. So I think her new attitude involves using it to that extent. How much she does it, we’ll see.

Tancharoen: There are limitations to what she can do. We might see herself pushing herself beyond those limitations. That’s something we’ll explore pretty soon, pretty early on in the season.

When you did the six-month jump, did you already know what happened in that time or is it something you got to fill in when you came back this season?

Whedon: We knew a lot of it but never all of it. The audience will be playing catch-up a little bit when we come back as we start to figure out what exactly happened in those few months.

Are you going to do the Robbie Reyes origin story?

Whedon: We just might.

Tancharoen: We might, but as with everything, we always do our own take on it.

I’m more wondering if he comes to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fully formed or we see him become Ghost Rider.

Tancharoen: I see. Not necessarily.

Whedon: You’ll get the answer to that question within the first 20 minutes of the season premiere.

Tancharoen: I would say within the first minute or so.

Agents of SHIELD showrunners interview Ghost Rider

Between the two Ghost Rider movies, they went from full animation to performance capture. Did they really pave the way for being able to do Ghost Rider on television?

Tancharoen: Yes, but of course on our time frame and budget, we have to choose wisely when we show the flaming skull, but we do pick a few moments for that to happen.

Whedon: Mark Kolpack and Sabrina Arnold and our VFX team, we wouldn’t try to do this if we didn’t think they could pull it off.

Could we at least expect to see the flaming skull once a week?

Tancharoen: Perhaps.

Whedon: Maybe. Maybe not, but maybe.

When you chose to do Ghost Rider, how important was it to pick Robbie Reyes? You already have a very diverse show and this takes it further.

Whedon: You can never have too much. There was a bunch of different factors that factored into our decision to choose Robbie Reyes. One being that it’s the newest version. People aren’t familiar with it and so I think it’ll feel new. But we both grew up in Los Angeles. We love that he was a Latino kid from East L.A. We think that that’s a great flavor for our show and it lends to the character. The character is kind of fantastic. He has a flaming skull, but we think it will ground the character in a way that we’re excited to write.

Now that you’ve jumped ahead six months, can you address any fallout from Captain America: Civil War?

Tancharoen: Absolutely. The Sokovia Accords are very much in our world. That may also play a part in what S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new function is. So yeah, all of that is in the backdrop of our story.

You went to the trouble of writing out Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter so they could have their own show. Since Most Wanted didn’t go, do you think you could incorporate them back into S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Tancharoen: Yes. Once an agent always an agent is what we’ve been saying.

Whedon: We’ll see how that shakes out but once an agent always an agent.

Has Joss [Whedon] expressed any interest in coming back to do an episode?

Tancharoen: Joss is a very busy man. He always has his hands full. As always, he’s sort of the omnipotent.

Whedon: I think there’s always a chance that that’ll happen but he has his own projects that are pretty significant so we’ll see.

Has anything gotten easier to do in season four?

Tancharoen: Oh, at this point, I think things get easier just as far as it being a well-oiled machine. Now that we’re in our fourth season, we have pretty much most of the same crew that’s been with us since the pilot, so it is kind of one giant family.

Whedon: Once it gets easy, we throw Ghost Rider at them. Now we’re shooting nights and everything’s on fire.

Tancharoen: And they all hate us.

Whedon: So right when it gets easy, we’ll usually make it a little harder.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns Tuesday, September 20 at 10PM on ABC.

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