The summer movie season is in its final stretch, and that means we will have to wait until November for the next crop of blockbuster movies and comic book adaptations. But do not fret, because when the summer ends, fall begins and so does the television season. That’s right, we are just about a month away from the season premiere of some of our favorite returning shows. One of those returning shows is Marvel’s first MCU television series, Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D.
While DC has chosen to separate their film and television universes, Marvel has continued grow the MCU as one large, ever evolving, all-inclusive universe. It has been no small feat, and surely has taken a tremendous amount of creativity and cooperation among the many showrunners, producers, and writers. A lot of Marvel TV’s focus is on their hot slate of Netflix properties. Sometimes it seems like the Marvel’s ABC shows get lost in the shuffle, when the conversation is dominated by Netflix and by DC’s Arrowverse.
Marvel does remain committed, however, to having a strong presence on network television. Agent Carter (which was unfortunately canceled) was highly revered, and there have been rumors that Marvel and ABC are looking to team up for more shows. But this article is about the show they are currently airing.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is about to enter its fourth season, and if you were one of the people who stopped watching midway through the first, you’re missing out – and you really should go catch up.
Once you’re done, check out 15 Reasons To Be Excited for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4.
15. S.H.I.E.L.D. Legitimized
In the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (man, it gets annoying writing out that acronym) a wrench was thrown into the agency’s operation. That wrench came in the form of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Creating a universe that covers both the television shows and the films meant that when anything monumental were to happen in either, there would be a chance for a ripple effect into the other. So, roughly halfway into the first season of a show that is all about the intelligence agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., The Winter Soldier happened, making clear that Hydra had infiltrated the agency. This resulted in S.H.I.E.L.D. being disbanded and disavowed by the United States.
For the past two seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the agency, under the direction of Phil Coulson (played by Clark Gregg), has operated out of the shadows. And this is really where the show turned itself around. Not only was it made clear that ramifications would be felt from the films (which can make a fan feel like there is still something to watch in between films), but the stakes were raised, and the series ultimately dropped its “villains of the week” in favor of Hydra.
Well, for Season 4, S.H.I.E.L.D. will no longer be operating out of the shadows. According to the official synopsis released by Marvel: “In light of the Sokovia Accords, and with Hydra obliterated, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been legitimized again and no longer needs to operate in the shadows…”
Having S.H.I.E.L.D. legitimized brings the show full circle, but now it can operate under the formula that has been working. Hopefully there will be no villains of the week, but rather bad guys who take either multi-episode arcs, or last the season altogether. Either way, it is great to see S.H.I.E.L.D. back where it belongs.
14. New Director
OK, tiny issue. Sure, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been legitimized, but its director, Phil Coulson, has been presumed dead since the events of The Avengers. So, rather than reveal Agent Coulson is alive, S.H.I.E.L.D. will have a new director in the form of Jason O’Mara (who you may know as the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman in the recent slate of DC Animated Movies). Now you may be thinking: why not Nick Fury or Maria Hill? Well, Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders are probably just too famous. But regardless, having a new director enter the fray is going to be a great change in the team dynamic, and likely will lead to some strong storylines and/or conflict.
For roughly three seasons, Phil Coulson has operated as either the leader or de facto leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., so it will be mighty interesting to see how he deals with no longer being the top guy – unless of course, it is by title only. We’ll have to wait until September to know for sure, but we can’t wait to find out.
13. No More Grant Ward
Don’t get us wrong, this is not a knock on Grant Ward or Brett Dalton (the actor who played him). In fact, Grant Ward has been one of the stronger characters on the show since its inception. Dalton has had the interesting task of playing several incarnations of the character. First, he was Grant Ward, loyal member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and overall nice guy who had everyone’s back. Then, we find out that he was really just a Hydra plant, so he was Grant Ward, Hydra agent pretending to have everyone’s back. Of course, everyone finds out he is a member of Hydra, so he then gets to play Grant Ward, Hydra agent who everybody knows is a Hydra agent. Dizzy yet? Well, if not, there’s more. In the third season Grant Ward dies at the hands of a vengeful Phil Coulson, but his body is overtaken by the season’s big bad, Hive. So then, of course, there was Hive occupying Grant Ward’s body, still played by Brett Dalton (if that was exhausting to read, it was to type as well).
As you can see, Grant Ward has gone through so many iterations, it borders on insanity. Despite Dalton’s acting ability and the charisma he brought to the role, the time had come to move on. And move on, Marvel did. We are now approaching the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that will not feature Grant Ward – we think – and we’re excited to see how it goes.
12. Impact from Civil War
As discussed earlier, one of the coolest things about the Marvel television shows is that, unlike DC, they occupy the same universe as the films. Of course, some may argue that becomes too confusing or constraining, and DC’s TV shows are doing great. And all of that may be true. But the overall viewing experience as a Marvel fan is pretty special when you get to see the consequences of one show appear in another. Or the disaster in a movie leading to characters from a show cleaning up the mess. It’s just cool.
The last film in the MCU prior to the premier of Season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will have been Captain America: Civil War. And much like The Winter Soldier, Civil War involves ramifications that go far beyond its individual movie. The Avengers have been placed at odds. The governments of the world are now requiring “enhanced” individuals to agree to government oversight. And of course, Captain America, himself, is a fugitive. We also know from the synopsis of this season that S.H.I.E.L.D. was legitimized, at least partially due to the Sokovia Accords (which were passed in Civil War).
While an early complaint of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was the lack of superhuman abilities of the main characters, since Season 2, Inhumans have become a major part of the show. This means a lot of characters with “enhanced” abilities. Of course, one of those characters is Daisy “Quake” Johnson (AKA Skye if you really stopped watching early). While there was some brief mention of the Sokovia Accords last season, it will be interesting to see how they affect the various Inhumans that S.H.I.E.L.D. does and does not work with going forward.
11. Dr. Radcliffe’s Secret
John Hannah (The Mummy) joined the cast last season as Dr. Radcliffe, a genius who was obsessed with the next evolution of human kind. Essentially, he dealt with mechanical enhancements of the human form. His work eventually got the attention of both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hive, and unfortunately for Radcliffe, he ends up working with Hive. At the end of the season, when S.H.I.E.L.D. defeats Hive and the horrible hybrid Inhumans that Radcliffe helped him create, Radcliffe started working with S.H.I.E.L.D.
And towards the end of the season we got a glimpse at something awesome. We saw Dr. Radcliffe activate a freakin’ Life Model Decoy! There had been speculation before Season 1 that perhaps Agent Coulson would be a LMD, or maybe the Koenig brothers (played by Patton Oswalt) were. But this is the first time we actually saw one for sure on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The synopsis that we keep mentioning makes references to this: “…Fitz discovers that socially awkward genius and friend Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah) has started putting the finishing touches on a new, secret invention.”
If there has been any sort of consistent romantic plotline in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. it has been between attached-at-the-hip best friends, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). Their story has evolved from Fitz finally professing his feelings to her before sacrificing his oxygen to save her life in Season 1, all the way to him traveling to another world to save her. Of course, there were some wrinkles along the way, such as Simmons falling in love with Will, who was trapped with her on the same desolate planet as Hive.
Towards the end of Season 3, it seemed as if their relationship may finally take a step forward. And Marvel seems to agree, stating: “…Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) have taken a big step forward in their relationship. But with Simmons’ new promotion as Special Advisor to the Director in Science and Technology, Fitz, as well as her former team members, finds it hard to confide in or trust her since she’s now the Director’s confidant.”
9. Coulson and Mack as Partners
With Jason O’Mara being cast as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new director, that sends Agent Phil Coulson back into the field. And sure, we have seen him in the field before, but it has been a while since he wasn’t calling the shots. During the jump forward in time at the end of Season 3, we saw that Coulson and Mack were working together to try and locate Daisy, who is now on the run (more on that later). If Mack and Coulson do end up as partners, their team dynamic will be an interesting one to watch.
Mack’s level of trust in Phil has evolved throughout the show. There are times where he has been completely on board with Phil’s decisions, and others where he has felt either Phil was not to be trusted (due to the Kree blood running through his veins or his blindspot for Daisy). If they are indeed working together, the writers will likely have fun delving into their working relationship, and viewers will have just as much of a good time watching.
Rather than wait for the Inhumans film (which no longer has a release date) to introduce the Kree created race, Marvel decided to use Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the launching pad for the Inhuman characters. Whether you are a fan of that decision or not, it is hard to argue with the fact that the show took a major step forward when the Inhumans showed up. Adding some much needed power (pun intended) to the show helped raise the stakes and invest more viewers in the series. Skye was revealed to be Daisy Johnson, and other characters such as Hellfire, Yo-Yo Rodriguez, and Lash were introduced to the show.
The writers used fish oil contaminated with terrigen crystals as the plot device that created many of these Inhumans. A large part of Season 3 was the race to track them down. There are no doubt more Inhumans who are yet to be discovered, and which ones show up — and how the Sokovia Accords affect them– will all be interesting plot developments in Season 4.
7. Netflix Connections
At the moment, this is only speculation. So far no characters have appeared on both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Netflix slate of shows to date, Daredevil and Jessica Jones. It is also unlikely we will see any S.H.I.E.L.D. members show up in Luke Cage or Iron Fist. However, characters like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, both who have already appeared on Netflix, have likely begun to draw some attention. S.H.I.E.L.D. has files on everyone who is anyone, and you better believe that if you have impervious skin or superhuman strength, they know about you. And if you happen to be a blind man who dresses up as a devil every night to fight crime – yeah, it’s safe to say S.H.I.E.L.D. knows about you too.
With the Sokovia Accords, S.H.I.E.L.D. being legitimized, and the continued search for “enhanced” individuals, it would only makes sense that Phil Coulson and company eventually cross paths with the soon-to-be Defenders. At least we are keeping our fingers crossed that that’s the case.
6. Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter
Two of the standout characters in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been Bobbi Morse, AKA Mockingbird, played by Adrianne Palicki, and Lance Hunter, played by Nick Blood. The two on-again, off-again, lovebirds were so popular that they were pegged for their own show titled, Marvel’s Most Wanted. They were even written out of the flagship show in an episode that included an appearance by President Matthew Ellis (played by William Sadler).
Unfortunately, ABC and Marvel were not happy enough with the Marvel’s Most Wanted pilot, and it was given the axe. The question then remains, will Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter return in Season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? The answer is anybody’s guess, but it will be a bit of an uphill battle. Adrianne Palicki was recently cast in a new Seth McFarlane show, but her character was popular enough, and her chemistry with Blood so palpable, that we hope they both come back for at least an episode.
5. The Villain
If there is one thing that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does that merits credit, it is the continued evolution of the show. The series’ showrunners (Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Jeffrey Bell) deserve credit for making sure the show never gets stale. Each season has featured new bases, villains, characters, and conflicts. The format of the show has changed as well. The first season largely dealt with a villain or objective of the week, while Season 2 dealt with two major villains — Hydra’s Daniel Whitehall and Daisy’s mother, Jiaying (played by Dichen Lachman). The third season saw the team primarily go up against Hive, while also dealing with the Inhuman killer, Lash.
Most of these antagonists have been eliminated. The assumption is that Grant Ward is officially done — short of some flashbacks maybe. Jiaying is dead. And Hydra seems to be all but eliminated. So, the question is, who is Season 4’s big bad? You’ll have to tune in to find out!
4. Tie-in with Doctor Strange
There will actually be two films released in the MCU during Season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. They are Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It is highly unlikely that we will be seeing any ramifications from Peter Quill and company’s exploits on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This is for no other reason than that the Guardians primarily operate in the cosmos. However, Doctor Strange is another matter. While Stephen Strange does not necessarily spend all his time in reality, being a student of the mystic arts, it is much more likely that we may see some of the destruction that occurs in Doctor Strange on the small screen with S.H.I.E.L.D.
How big the tie-in will be, we cannot say. It could be as small as the first season tie-in with Thor: The Dark World, where the team had to go clean up in London, or perhaps it could be as big as The Winter Soldier. While it likely will not be the latter, it will still be fun to see how the team at Marvel links the two properties together.
3. The Future
If you were worried, after the cancellation of Agent Carter and the pass on Marvel’s Most Wanted, that ABC was less than interested in expanding their slate of Marvel properties, think again. It appears that ABC has every intention of trying to grow their portfolio of Marvel shows with both well known and less familiar properties. If ABC does move forward with new shows set in the MCU, it would open up the opportunity for true crossovers with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. We’re not talking about the occasional Nick Fury appearance, or the slight references to the events of The Avengers in Daredevil. We are talking about an Arrowverse type of crossover, where characters from different shows have to come together to take out a common enemy.
If that happens, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will likely serve as the launching point in the same way that Arrow did with The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. The possibility that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D could lead into its own television universe is pretty exciting, and definitely a reason to stay tuned.
2. Daisy “Quake” Johnson
At the end of Season 3, we jumped forward six months and saw that Daisy (played by Chloe Bennet) was no longer operating as a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. Rather, she was on the run as a vigilante, trying to make up for some of the wrongs she felt she caused. Of course, she was also heartbroken over the loss of Lincoln, who sacrificed himself to kill Hive and save Daisy. While Agent Coulson and Mack were trying to apprehend Daisy, we see a news clipping that refers to her vigilante persona as “Quake.” You’ll recognize that as her name in the comics (she was often playfully referred to as Tremors by Mack on the show).
Daisy has been one of the characters that has evolved the most on the show, and Chloe Bennet has done a tremendous job in her portrayal. Beginning as Skye, a computer hacktivist, she eventually joined S.H.I.E.L.D., and learned she was Inhuman when she was inadvertently exposed to terrigen crystals. Then, she finally found her parents, though she unfortunately learned that her father was the psychotic Mr. Hyde and her mother had become so distrusting of humans that she was ready to start a war.
Things got even worse in the third season, when she eventually became brainwashed by Hive, who made her fight her own friends. Then, of course, she had to go through withdrawal once she was free of Hive’s influence. How the character continues to evolve in Season 4 will be one of the highlights of the show, and seeing Johnson without S.H.I.E.L.D. for the first time since the beginning of the series will be awfully compelling.
1. Ghost Rider
Could anything be more exciting than this? Marvel confirmed last month that Ghost Rider will be riding into Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This gives the ABC show arguably its most high profile character yet. We should be clear that this will not be the Johnny Blaze version of the character (played on the big screen by Nicolas Cage), but rather the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider. Nonetheless, it is extremely exciting to be getting such a high profile and iconic addition to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. roster of characters.
In discussing the addition of Ghost Rider, Executive Producer and Head of Marvel Television, Jeph Loeb stated: “Season 4 will unquestionably be the series’ biggest, most ambitious story yet, and it all begins with the introduction of one of our greatest legacy characters in Ghost Rider… When the Spirit of Vengeance rides into S.H.I.E.L.D., it’ll change everything.”
If that doesn’t get your blood pumping for the upcoming season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., maybe the show just isn’t right for you. For the rest of us, we’ll get to see how it all unfolds in just over a month!
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns to ABC on September 20 at 10 PM . But before then, let us know in the comments what you hope to see in Season 4!