‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’: First Look at Sif & J. August Richards Talks Deathlok

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Agents of SHIELD Cast1 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: First Look at Sif & J. August Richards Talks Deathlok

[Warning: SPOILERS for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. up to Episode #13 ahead.]


It’s gut-check time for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is serving as Marvel Studios’ initial foray into what is nowadays the increasingly diverse – and, in turn, competitive – world of televised entertainment. Last week, the series began what’s been built up as a strong final run of episodes to make up for the rocky first half of season 1, starting with the adventure “T.R.A.C.K.S.” – which, despite being hindered by problems that can be traced back to previous episodes, did feel more like a proper, complex and (dare we say) compelling espionage thriller set in the Marvel universe.

Hopefully, this is just the beginning of an upward climb for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; when the show restarts on ABC at the beginning of next month (which is March 2014, at the time of writing this), it will not only bring fan-favorite Bill Paxton into the fold, but also continue to progress one of the best plot threads featured in season 1.1 – Milke Peterson’s (J. August Richardson) evolution from ordinary man to Extremis experiment, and now the cyborg specimen known as “Deathlok,” mind-controlled by none other than the mysterious Clairvoyant.

After Paxton is introduced as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent John Garrett in the episode “Tahiti”, the show will then bring on a familiar face to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), known from the Thor movies. That episode, titled “Yes Men”, will see the powerful Asgardian warrior join forces with Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his motley team in order to battle the dangerous Lorelei (Elena Satine), a relatively well-known character from the Thor comics.

That and perhaps Sif will demand to take Lola for a spin, judging by the first image of her from the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode (via TV Guide).


agents shield sif jaimie alexander 570x391 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: First Look at Sif & J. August Richards Talks Deathlok

One wonders if there will be any update on the current status of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) – who, last time we saw him, decided to hang around on Earth with his girlfriend Jane (Natalie Portman) at the end of Thor: The Dark World – and/or if Sif’s appearance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might even plant the smallest of seeds for what lies ahead in Thor 3, which is currently in the script stage of development. We’ve been disappointed by “tie-ins” to the larger Marvel universe before (“The Well”, anyone?), but the folk over at Marvel Studios appear to realize that it’s now or never, as far as them justifying a shared universe template that includes all of its TV series – so who knows?

Speaking of not knowing exactly what the future holds – Marvel does love its secrets and Richards recently sat down to talk with Hero Complex about when, exactly, he was informed that his Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. character would go from super-soldier knockoff to the dangerous bio-mechanical weapon called Deathlok (another fairly well-established comic book character).

Not far in advance at all. Everything with Marvel is on a need-to-know basis, so I didn’t officially know until the second episode I did, which I think was the 10th episode in the season. Information is carefully guarded over there. I definitely didn’t know that I was Deathlok. I even had a costume fitting, and I didn’t know what I was being fitted for!

agents shield j august richards deathlok 570x294 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: First Look at Sif & J. August Richards Talks Deathlok

J. August Richards as Mike Peterson, pre-Deathlok transformation

Part of what has made Mike Peterson’s journey on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. one of the show’s better elements is the performance by Richards – known in the geek community for playing street-smart (yet big-hearted) demon fighter Charles Gunn on S.H.I.E.L.D. co-creator Joss Whedon’s Buffy spinoff, Angel – in addition to how show-runners Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen and their writing staff didn’t skip any steps, in laying out Mike’s motivation and character arc on the series – making him all the more empathetic for it.

Richards also did his part by researching (read: going back through Marvel comics), once he learned that he was playing Deathlok; he now cites the more sympathetic version of the character as his inspiration:

Definitely, in my reading, I was drawn more to the Michael Collins version because this character is such a good man, such a good moral, decent person. For [Peterson] to do the things he’s asked to do as Deathlok are very difficult for him. When I showed up to play the character for the first couple of days, I was still trying to find it. Obviously these are circumstances that I can’t relate to, but I had to really use my imagination to get at what it would be like for Mike Peterson to be turned into Deathlok. Once I figured it out, it was like night and day, just a huge epiphany on what was going on internally for this character.

Similarly, much like the philosophy behind Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is that ordinary people can still make a difference in a world of superheroes (and thus, the less-fantastical stories about regular folk are still worth telling), Richards feels that his role on the show gives him a proper chance to dig beneath the surface of the Deathlok persona – and reveal the human core to the comic book-y exterior.

I feel blessed that I’ve been asked to play this character because I always want to play the person behind the superhero. Even when I’m playing a lawyer or a doctor, I want to play a person. A human being. It’s challenging physically, mentally, emotionally and even in the circumstances of the production. The makeup and the costumes. It’s a huge challenge, but it’s something that I love so much.

Are you liking how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has handled the Deathlok character so far? What are you hopes for Sif’s appearance on the show, as well as how the series will be connected to (and thus, be affected by) events that transpire in the MCU, including the upcoming “Phase 2″ Marvel movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier?


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns with “Tahiti” on Tuesday, March 4th @8pm on ABC. You can check out a preview of that episode below:

Source: LA Times, TV Guide

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
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  1. It’s so hard to get behind this show with it’s all over the place schedule.

  2. “She has the power of sorcery, so that’s interesting to see how our team deals with that……Maybe a few are enamored with her,” – Maurissa Tancharoen.

    Thralls are always potential. Brain (Fitz) vs Brawn (Ward) anyone? Lawl.

  3. I’m sticking with this show but I still cringe at so many elements of it. At the start of ‘T.R.A.C.K.S’ we see the team sitting on a train that supposedly contains something the bad guys have spent a lot of money on. It stands to reason that the train would be full of bad guys guarding said item, yet we see the team openly talking about their cover stories, about the plan and intel they have collected, proper amateur hour stuff, not the acts of a crack squad of agents. I’m all for a bit of cheese, but I need to believe these characters are competent.

    I can’t wait to see Lady Sif join up, I just hope she helps raise the bar. Dealthlok is one of the best parts of the show and Richards has done very well.

    • At this point it seems like there are elements to the scripting that just have to be accepted. The show is not serious enough to be a great drama and everything else is so over the place that is seems like a live action cartoon style show you might have seen in syndication back in the 90′s.

      I can’t see how Coulson has to clear anything with some Italian investigative unit himself over coffee out in the open, only to find out (of course) that the Italian spy agency is in on the caper too. I also feel that one of the main problems some people might have with this show is that the agents just really do not look competent, and if you tally up their success ratio on missions this season they have gotten a few people killed and put themselves in danger almost every time. Why would Coulson and Ward jump off the train if the guy chasing them had a grenade? They did not know what kind of device it was at the time, but who would really detonate something that looks like a proximity weapon where it could affect them? They jump out into an open area, which if the grenade was anything else but some non-lethal stun job, they might have been killed.

      • it’s such a departure of the Shield we have been shown from the movies…nothing makes sense.

        it’s like NCIS getting a spin off that is Super Troopers

    • if you look back at it, i think that might be part of their gimmick, since skye, fitz, and simmons are not field agents they will use them getting into trouble or messing something up to give it that comedic tone to the show. that leaves ward and may to use their battlefield expertise and get them out of trouble, therefore providing the action part of the show. at least thats how i see it.

    • Well if they were competent they wouldn’t let a whole bunch of people film them while on their missions.

      • What? So no character on tv or film can be considered competent because a film crew was involved? I do know its not real you know! There are certain things that you have to overlook if you are going to immerse yourself in the fantasy, like the fact that the action keeps getting interrupted by adverts.

        • I wonder what they do during the commercials? Take bathroom breaks like the rest of us?

  4. Deathlok would be great as an Avenger.
    As of Sif, she´s just a resource to keep fans watching the show but I dont think it wont tie anything. BTW, is that her armor that sported it in thor 1 and 2? it looks downgraded. downgraded a la agents of shield.. ha!!

    • It’s the same armor, it’s just not all battle-ridden.

  5. I think the Deathlok character arc has been good probably the best arc of the season so far. Sadly that doesn’t take much with this show at least not until this last episode…

    With this last episode they were able to do something with this show that they had yet to do at least for me, and that is make me care. For the first time I cared about the characters and what was going to happen next. I felt anxiety for the characters and was telling Skye she should not go in alone and wondering why Mae looked beat to hell in her first appearance at the plane.

    I hope this is an indication of things to come because I really want to love this show.

  6. The show is a joke.

    Sure no one has to watch it but many of us are invested in Marvel and what they have done via the movie universe that it is painful to see them trying to tie this rubbish to their movieverse.

    And why make a character evolve into a robot when the next Avengers is about two characters doing exactly that.

    • I agree with your sentiments, I feel that I want to watch it as its another dose of the Marvel Universe I have come to love from Iron man and Thor etc. But I am almost always disappointed, the characters are just not good enough at being agents, the writers seem to pay no attention to the basic skills that they should have. My main concern now is that they try too hard to include elements of the story in the films and ruin the wider universe.

  7. I think the Agent Carter show should be pretty good.

  8. I never thought I would say that I would like to catch the “”Sif”, but…..
    Jaime Alexander makes me get a death “lok” on something, alright! Va-va-va-voom!
    (What is it…Thor’s hammer???)

  9. The plot for the Sif episode says Sif is ordered by Odin to capture Lorelei and bring her back to Asgard. (SPOILER) As most know, Loki is on the throne impersonating Odin. Is Loki sending Lorelei and Sif to Earth to test its defenses; look for weaknesses so to attack again? Lorelei does attack the agents first. What about Sif? Is she an unwitting pawn or has she turned to the dark side because Thor rejected her and chose Jane?

  10. I don’t get it. The show’s gradually evolving into everything the showrunners said it would become and people are still badmouthing it. Enough with the hypocrisy! This is not what you wanted? Fine, get over it, the Netflix shows are coming anyway. You were warned from the get-go about what this show would be like, so stop whining already!

    • +1

    • Not only are the Neflix shows coming in 2015 but also the ‘true’ Agents of SHIELD show starring Hayley Atwell later this Fall. I’m hoping the Agent Carter series is a 30 minute program that is jammed packed with numerous plot lines. Some Marvel televisions hour long series seem to have loads of filler.

    • People need to b**** about stuff to feel important I guess. The show is getting better and better with each episode imo.

      I get that some wanted it to be better then it is, but those people need to understand dat it is still only the first season and they are just starting to find their stride.

      Still AoS has one of the best first seasons of a comicbased series I have ever seen.SOOOO much better then Arrow had or Smallville imo ever had.
      I am just wetting my geekboy pants that we are all priveleged to see the Marvel universe come to life like it has on the bigscreen and the smallscreen.
      When I was growing up I never thought it possible that somebody could pull it of, but they did.

      But some people just seem to like to b**** about the litte things i guess and that is their right.
      I am just a tad affraid that if people keep on ragging on the show networks will start to get coldfeet and it will be cancelled before it can show us what it can do. It has happend before you know…

      • LOL you think AoS had a better first season than Arrow or Smallville? hahahaha you are smoking CRACK!

        • …says the guy who calls himself TheFume…

  11. A couple of things made me mad about the last episode, little things that would normally be Ok.

    When Stan Lee said he would have a big part in the show and not “just a cameo”, I believed him. It turned out to be just a cameo after all–something I would normally be excited about, but was ruined for me by his false promise.

    Second of all they couldn’t bear to be suttel about Deathlock for one whole episode, but instead had to literally spell it out at the end.

    I know I seem to be knit-picking, but this show as been constantly not good, constantly bad, and otherwise constantly not living up to it’s promises.

    Before anyone tells me to just stop the show, I do have a vested interest in the MCU, and I don’t want this show to be a part of it.

    • Are you referring to that fact that the team were able to develop Live Vaccines for alien viruses within minutes in prior episodes but cannot treat gunshot wounds.

      Or were you referring to how an unarmed Mike Peterson fresh out of a hyperbaric chamber needed absolutely no occupational therapy after receiving his new limb. After only 8 seconds of screaming he was able to walk up a flight of stairs, kill six armed men and flee SHIELD on foot.

      Or how SHIELD failed to put an all points bulletin over on the newly christened Deathlok as he escaped on foot, and how no one on the streets noticed Deathloks injuries.

      Or why the team did not (1) transport Skye to a hospital for treatment, or (2) give her a blood transfusion (since they showed us in prior episodes that there is a blood bank on the bus),

      Or how a hyperbaric chamber would provide any worthwhile relief for a untreated recent gun shot victim.

      • Exactly how were they supposed to know that Deathlok is on the loose?


  13. Marvel’s ship was sinking so they pulled Deathlok out of their arses and put him on the show. There was no grand plan for Deathlok from the beginning like they want you to believe. When they saw their viewership decline at staggering proportions they had to make something happen. It just shows how inept these people were from the beginning. They can turn Skye into Enchantress for all I care. To me this show is DEAD.

    • This show to me was going down the drain with these Agents until Deathlok came along, all I got to say is that was a smart move and it should continue like that

      • I just wish Deathlok was a big enough pull to bring me back to watching. (and I liked Deathlok the comic)

  14. I think they want to tie Agents of SHIELD into the cinematic universe, but the problem that arises is how to do that with out spoiling the film for people who haven’t seen it yet. Even if the timelines were different and the tie in show airs a month after the movie comes out, there’s still a lot of people who haven’t seen it yet or are waiting for the DVD. They can’t include anything about the main plot, about the big fight, about what happened to the characters or any changes the film brings to the universe because it would spoil some part of the movie for people. They could just go ahead and do it and warn people that it contains spoilers for the current film and if they want to watch the show spoiler free they need to get their ass to the theater and watch the movie. Might get a few more butts in the seats lol.

  15. I honestly can say I don’t care.

    So what sif is here. Woohoo. The stan lee big part made me relize there is nothing to me to see the show. I mean its as it was said above.

    In one episode fitz and simmons were able to syethisize an alein vaccine from a virus. And yet they can’t treat a gunshot wound.

    Also the intelligence we have seen from sheild in the films is more spywork and government agencices. What we see on AoS is a bunch of funny people playing secret agent.

    Im tired of them trying to say its linked all the same to the movies and yet show one version to the films and one on tv.

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