Throughout the early stretch of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we had speculated (and hoped) that the show about a team of black ops S.H.I.E.L.D. agents from a now-defunct international agency - one that's largely ignored in the latest Marvel Studios movies - would transform into something more recognizable and relevant from Marvel Comics. And season two delivered that in spades, with central character Skye (Chloe Bennet) being revealed as super-powered hero Quake.
The way season 2 ended, it was clear that season 3 would embrace elements from the Secret Warriors stories from Marvel Comics, where Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson in the films) recruits Quake (real name: Daisy Johnson) to help assemble a team of powered individuals to help against secret threats. This was confirmed at Comic-Con earlier this month and now there's even more to look forward to.
Marvel announced today that Constance Zimmer (House of Cards, UnREAL) has joined the cast for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3 as a key new character described as the head of what Marvel TV will only describe as "mysterious new group." This group, much like Coulson's team, is tracking down Inhumans around the globe.
EW has a few more details, revealing that Zimmer will be introduced in the season 3 premiere and that her group is actually another government agency which screams of potential connections to next summer's Captain America: Civil War, a film that will be all about regulating superheroes after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. There's a growing and understandable sense that superheroes, or any gifted individuals with extraordinary abilities, need to be registered and held accountable for their vigilante actions - which will be the crux of the Civil War conflict. Perhaps Zimmer's team is an element of that government movement, especially since we know Season 3 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins several months after season 2 ended where much has happened since a city fell from the sky at the end of the season and Age of Ultron. It may help to bridge the gap from Ant-Man (the end of Phase 2) to May 2016's Civil War (the beginning of Phase 3).
We already know Coulson's team (who remain loyal to Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury) of course wants to recruit powered people for a new team led by Skye, or at least document them on "The Index" but this other government faction we don't yet know. The question is whether or not Zimmer's mysterious group will be at odds with Coulson's or whether they're looking to do the same thing. When it comes to Zimmer though, she's going to be a worthy match on screen for Clark Gregg's fan-favorite Phil Coulson. Executive Producer/Head of Marvel Television, Jeph Loeb:
"When casting this role, we needed someone that could go toe-to-toe with Coulson. Constance brings a level of wit and spark to the role we could have only dreamed of, and we’re beyond excited to add her to our already stellar cast going into the new season."
If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. showrunners Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon and their writing team are able to continue drawing from the comics as they did last season, we can look to some established agencies from the lore for ideas on what Zimmer's team could represent. While we'd love to see S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department) - an extraterrestrial-focused S.H.I.E.L.D. group created by none other than Joss Whedon - in the Marvel Cinematic Universe down the road, it's too early for that given that they have an advanced space station designed to protect Earth (maybe that can come after Avengers: Infinity War...).
So, more relevant options include:
- The Commission on Superhuman Activities - created by the U.S. President to keep and eye on powered citizens and plan projects on recreating powers in others.
- H.A.T.E. (Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort) - basically a terrorist spoof of S.H.I.E.L.D. that could be re-purposed for the MCU.
- Project Pegasus - A biggie in the comics since it had a role in imprisoning powered people during Marvel's Civil War in the books. This group is primarily focused on researching alien energies and could surface later in the films.
- S.T.A.R.S. (Superhuman Tactical Activities Response Squad) - A federal organization that tracks and detains super-powered criminals. This one's very relevant given the events of season 2.
- H.A.M.M.E.R. - the organization that replaced S.H.I.E.L.D. after it fell apart during the Secret Invasion crossover event. This one's the most exciting option since it's led by Norman Osborn (sporting the Iron Patriot armor seen in Iron Man 3) who Marvel Studios can now use thanks to its Spider-Man partnership with Sony Pictures. There's no better way to bridge universes than to see Osborn play a bigger role than just another antagonist for Spidey. And it could lead to another group of more villainous Avengers led by Osborn down the road. Lots of potential for this one if Marvel TV can start laying the groundwork.
This new group however, could very well be be none of the these and perhaps even nothing from the comics at all given the state of separation between the films and TV division to date. With Secret Warriors entering the fray however, there could be a long-term plan for the TV shows to intersect with the movies in a big way.
Let us know your thoughts and predictions in the comments below!
Season 3 of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres Tuesday, September 29 at 9:00 PM ET on ABC.