While S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn’t been the focus of any of the Marvel movies per se, we’ve gotten to know the group pretty well by this point. Indeed, the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division is the thread that ties the entire Marvel cinematic universe together, thanks to the strenuous post-credits recruiting efforts of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). And this summer’s Avengers has the biggest S.H.I.E.L.D. presence yet, with Clark Gregg‘s Agent Coulson grabbing some of the movie’s funniest lines and Cobie Smulders‘ Maria Hill making her eye-catching debut.

Now, as the intelligence agency heads to the small screen, we’re poised to learn more about the team than ever. But don’t expect to get the dish on Fury’s penchant for leather dusters or Coulson’s trading card hobby. Instead, writer/director Joss Whedon says, ABC’s S.H.I.E.L.D. will introduce audiences to a whole new cast of characters. Read more after the jump.

MTV’s Josh Horowitz got the details in an interview with Whedon at the Toronto Film Festival, where the filmmaker was promoting Much Ado About Nothing. Whedon said he’d gotten “very far” in the creating the show, having already pitched it to the network “with a full framework, a full cast.” Said cast likely won’t be anyone we’ve already met, however. Whedon framed the decision as a conscious attempt to help S.H.I.E.L.D. stand alone:

It’s new characters. It needs to be its own thing. It needs to be adjacent [to the movies]. 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 heroes don’t have? And part of that for me is, 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 so that’s really interesting to me.

Whedon did not say whether the TV project would feature S.H.I.E.L.D. characters from the comics who’ve not yet appeared in the movies, or whether all of the characters would be created specifically for the show. (Not that the distinction will matter much to Marvel movie fans who don’t follow the comics.) In any case, it seems like a smart way to establish S.H.I.E.L.D. as a story worth telling in its own right, rather than as a minor sideshow to the studio’s higher-wattage superhero films.

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