Marvel’s special agents let the world in on their secrets when their ABC shows Agent Carter and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. joined together for a panel at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con in Ballroom 20 of the San Diego Convention Center on July 10th.
Recently renewed Agent Carter was up first, evident by moderator and Marvel TV lead Jeph Loeb’s entrance wearing the signature Peggy Carter red fedora, which was dutifully retrieved by the show’s lead Hayley Atwell. The crowd was met with a panel including showrunners Chris Dingess (who commented he “was conceived on the convention floor [of Comic-Con] in 1973”), Michelle Fazekas, and Tara Butters; and stars Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter) and James D’Arcy (Edwin Jarvis). (The panel was shy Carter co-producer Kevin Feige because of the ongoing production of the Captain America: Civil War movie.) But even with only half the usual panel time, the stars and creators managed to give the fans insight into the show’s characters and experiences.
Calling the role of Peggy Carter the best job she’s ever had, Atwell spoke on the show’s superb writing, saying, “I really hoped that the writers would get her right. I read the script for the first time and I think I came out and went, ‘Oh, she’s amazing!’ It’s all on the page and you just have to show up and do the lines. The work is done for you.” The role has affected the actress in real life, too. “[Peggy]’s quite fearless and when I have moments of doubting what I’m doing, she wouldn’t…It’s changed my life.” Asked by a fan what her favorite line from the first season was, Atwell replied, “Everyone knows the line that defined Peggy and has touched people, ‘I know my value and anyone else’s opinion doesn’t matter’…It’s been amazing going to conventions and having young girls and boys go, ‘I know my value too!’”
After D’Arcy revealed his hesitation in taking on the role of Edwin Jarvis lie in making a soufflé (“I can do a perfect spotted dick, that’s an English pudding, but I’m not so good at the soufflé”), he said, “What really sold it to me was when [the producers] said, ‘He’s going to be with [Peggy] on the missions.’…I had never had an opportunity to do anything comedic before, but it turns out I just had to be my usual wally of a self.” He concurred with Atwell on the writing, specifically praising the writers on nailing 1940s’ British dialogue.
Asked about the first season’s ending, during which Carter disposed of the Captain America super serum, Atwell defended her character’s actions, saying, “I do think it was absolutely the right decision. She’d been holding on to him and grieving him. It was her way of letting him go. I think she was concerned if it got in the wrong hands that someone would have used that power.”
But the upcoming second season, which will consist of 10 episodes, will see Peggy and many of the cast in an entirely new place, both emotionally and geographically. Loeb announced the season will be set in 1947, two months after the first season’s end, and in Hollywood, where Peggy is investigating a murder and Jarvis is assisting boss Howard Stark with the construction of an estate and movie studio. The season will feature shifted dynamics in the characters’ relationships and will present “a couple of new opportunities” in the love department for Carter, said Fazekas. Viewers will also put a face to the name in regards to Jarvis’s wife Anna.
After many factoids about the show, cast and characters of Agent Carter were revealed (Butters loves buying fan art! Dingess is the voice on the Captain America radio show!), they ceded the remaining minutes to a different group of agents.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel began with a season 2 recap ending with the tagline “This season, everything will change.” And that’s looking to be a guarantee, telling by the immensely expanded cast: alongside original cast members Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson), Ming-Na Wen (Melinda May), Chloe Bennett (Daisy Johnson, not Skye), Brett Dalton (Grant Ward), Iain De Caestecker (Leo Fitz), and Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons) sat new full-timers Adrianne Palicki (Bobbi Morse), Nick Blood (Lance Hunter), Luke Mitchell (Lincoln), and Henry Simmons (Mack). Executive producers Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon unfortunately couldn’t attend due to the show’s production, but the panel had plenty of laughs and stories to share in their absence.
The new recruits were the main topic of discussion, sharing fun dish about their first experiences on the popular show. Mitchell remarked that he found it “bloody scary” when he first joined (he also noted his accent is naturally Australian, not American, much to the surprise of the audience), while Blood recalled his hiring only two days prior shooting and not even having enough time for a shower. “The next thing I knew I was upside down in an SUV with Xena the Warrior Princess.” Palicki, already comfortable after her regular appearances during season 2 (and a comic book fan to boot!), noted, “There was a lot of pressure coming in,” but the cast have eased any discomfort, calling her co-stars “family.”
Original cast members spilled details as well: Fitzsimmons shippers likely went crazy over hearing about Henstridge and De Caestecker’s first meeting — they actually screen-tested the ocean floor scene from the season 1 finale together. “We were the only two actors who could understand each other,” said De Caestecker. On Bennett, Greg said he “loved Chloe from the moment I met her…[she was] enthusiastic, brave, and brought everything [the show] needed.” When the subject of May and Ward’s relationship in the first season was brought up, Gregg called the pair “special friends,” and Wen joked, “It was out of necessity. He was there. We were stuck on a bus for months on end. He was flexing his muscles and I had to…help him…flex.” But things went from awkward to adorable when a young fan in the crowd asked if they had room for an 8-year-old agent. Gregg said, “What we’re most proud of at S.H.I.E.L.D. is that anyone can run S.H.I.E.L.D. and we have a number of very strong women who might be running S.H.I.E.L.D. at some point. Just from the few moments we’ve spent with you today, I think, someday, you could run S.H.I.E.L.D…as long as you stay away from Ward.”
All the warm fuzzies were soon replaced with uproarious laughter as the “Bloopers of S.H.I.E.L.D.” reel was shown. Featuring lots of jokes and dancing, and even a little make-out session between Coulson and May, the reel, included on the season 2 DVD/Blu-Ray to be released September 18th, certainly wasn’t the end of the cast’s antics. After Loeb attempted to snatch Gregg’s “new” prosthetic hand at the beginning of the panel, Gregg spent the remaining time with his hand up his sleeve. Additionally, an audience member yelling “Hail HYDRA!” midway through the panel prompted Dalton to inquire about saying the phrase in sign language.
The antics weren’t just at the panel either. In lieu of any sneak peeks of season 3, which hasn’t started shooting, the crowd were an inside look of the season 3 writers’ room, and it wasn’t short on hints about the upcoming season. While details like the “She’s Daisy Now” jar and the dartboard method the producers used to determine the show’s next kills brought laughs, the video also provided more information about Daisy and Coulson’s Secret Warriors team, including Daisy’s codename of Quake, and Zephyr One, the name of the team’s new plane. Two details the panel remained vague on were a hint shown on a whiteboard in the video that said Simmons is “already very dead,” and actor B.J. Britt’s appearance (he played Antoine Triplett, who died halfway through season 2) amidst a discussion between Tancharoen and Whedon about who to bring back to the show.
The final reveal, besides the third season’s premiere date of September 29th, was the addition of Inhuman Lash to the Secret Warriors team during the season. No information was given on the role’s casting.