Although Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered to a strong audience due in part to its fans from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Comics, the show's first season struggled to find its footing in terms of story. That is, until the Captain America: The Winter Soldier tie-in episode upended the series by disbanding the titular S.H.I.E.L.D. organization. However, once Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. locked into its place in the MCU, the show saw a marked improvement that continued into season 2, with the introduction of Inhumans, Terrigen crystals/Terrigenesis and beginning the evolution of Skye (Chloe Bennet) into Daisy Johnson a.k.a. Quake.
Season 3 will continue to develop the Inhumans and introduce the Secret Warriors storyline as S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Daisy assemble a team of powered individuals. It has additionally been revealed that a new government agency will also be tracking down Inhumans, and the official season 3 synopsis adds some insight to the organization as well as a few of its key players.
Read the full synopsis:
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” returns for an action-packed third season, with Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Agent Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) leading the charge as S.H.I.E.L.D. searches the world for more powered people in the aftermath of their epic battle with Jiaying and her army of Inhumans. However, Coulson and the team soon find out that they are not the only group looking for these new Inhumans.
Many months after their war with a rogue group of Inhumans, the team is still reeling. Coulson is again trying to put the pieces of his once revered organization back together while also dealing with the loss of his hand. His confidante and second in command, Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), has yet to return from an impromptu vacation with ex-husband Andrew (Blair Underwood); deadly superspy Agent Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) is recovering from her traumatic torture at the hands of Grant Ward (Brett Dalton); Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) is obsessed with discovering the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge); and all are on high-alert for the next move from Ward and Hydra.
Ever since the existence of Super Heroes and aliens became public knowledge after the Battle of New York, the world has been trying to come to grips with this new reality. Coulson assembled a small, highly select group of Agents from the worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division). S.H.I.E.L.D.’s mission: to protect those who cannot protect themselves from threats they cannot conceive.
But bigger threats loom ahead, setting the stakes even higher for the Agents, including the spread of Terrigen, an alien substance that unlocks superhuman abilities in select individuals; the emergence of new Inhumans who cannot yet control nor understand their powers; the rise of a new government organization that will go toe-to-toe with S.H.I.E.L.D.; the unknown properties of the massive alien Kree monolith, which has taken one of their own; and the constant threat of a rebuilt Hydra terrorist organization under S.H.I.E.L.D. traitor Grant Ward, who is making it his personal mission to take down Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D.
New faces, both friend and foe, will join the series, including the no-nonsense, highly-skilled and somewhat mysterious leader (Constance Zimmer) of the ATCU (Advanced Threat Containment Unit), her intimidating partner, Banks (Andrew Howard), Lash (Matthew Willig), a monstrous Inhuman whose loyalties remain ambiguous, and new Inhuman Joey (Juan Pablo Raba), who is struggling to harness his newfound abilities, among other surprising characters.
Coulson, with the help of Daisy and Mack (Henry Simmons), will work to slowly assemble a team that is stronger than ever before, combining the highly skilled Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with powered individuals in the hopes of protecting the innocent in a world where the balance of power is ever-shifting, and new dangers are constantly emerging."
Before the new agency's name was revealed, we speculated it could be a number of organizations from the Marvel Comics, including The Commission on Superhuman Activities and H.A.M.M.E.R. However, the ATCU is not known within the comics or the MCU. It remains to be seen whether that indicates the ATCU is a different name for a known Marvel organization, or if it's simply being used to fill screen time - like the Centipede Project in season 1 before it was revealed to be funded by HYDRA.
Zimmer's character name being withheld from the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. synopsis seems to indicate it will be a well-known figure from the comics (or else why not reveal it?), especially when the other ATCU members are named. The also-unnamed "other surprising characters" seem to hint at a Marvel comics tie-in as well, though one that the show is more blatantly keeping under wraps.
But again, Centipede was largely a filler organization used by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. before they were allowed to reveal the existence of HYDRA. With Captain America: Civil War set as the next big-screen MCU release, the ATCU may have a connection with the film, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may be unable to reveal a tie-in until much further down the line of season 3.
As for the agency's members that are revealed in the synopsis, they offer little insight into whether the ATCU is an established Marvel organization or created entirely for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Too little is known about Banks to determine if he is a character from the comics, but Lash appears to be a version of the energy manipulating Inhuman. Additionally, Joey may be Joseph Nobili, an Inhuman who underwent Terrigenisis when a Terrigen Bomb was set off over New York City. In the aftermath of the same bomb that converted Joey, Lash traveled the world looking for Inhumans and judged whether they were worthy of Terrigenisis - disintegrating those he deems unworthy.
Given the season 2 finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Terrigen crystal-infused fish oil capsules distributed around the world, it's likely these characters - especially Lash's "ambiguous" loyalties in tracking down Inhumans - will follow similar stories on the show. However, since their comic book counterparts don't have any known affiliations with established organizations, it's difficult to determine how they will fit into the ATCU, especially if the organization is, in fact, revealed to be a known agency from the comics.
Of course, aside from the ATCU and its Inhuman members, season 3 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has plenty for fans to look forward to. As evidenced by the synopsis, the show will be digging deeper into Kree mythology, putting together the Secret Warriors and continuing to re-establish the threat of HYDRA. With so much of season 3 set to pull from the Marvel Comics, we'll see if the ATCU has any ties to the show's source material when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns.
Daredevil is currently available on Netflix. Jessica Jones premieres in Fall 2015, followed by Luke Cage and Daredevil season 2 in 2016. Season 3 of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres Tuesday, September 29 at 9:00 PM ET on ABC. Agent Carter will air season 2 in early 2016. Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more information about Marvel’s Most Wanted as it becomes available.