The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 episode directed by Clark Gregg is like a "mini-Marvel movie", according to Director Phil Coulson himself. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. began its run on ABC in 2013, as the first small screen component of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the MCU movies and TV shows have become increasingly disconnected since then (despite all technically taking place in the same continuity), Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. has always found new ways to reflect what's happening in the MCU on the big screen while also exploring its own standalone plotlines. That has also remained the case with the outer space-based season 5 thus far.
Clark Gregg began his run in the MCU on the big screen with a small supporting role as then S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson in Iron Man, all the way back in 2008. The quip-friendly secret agent seemingly met his end at the hands of Loki in The Avengers in 2012 before being resurrected a year later, with his own ABC TV show. Gregg is now getting behind the camera for the first time on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and drew inspiration from his past experiences working on big screen Marvel comic book adaptations, in addition to his time playing in the MCU on the small screen.
Gregg called the shots on the next episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5, which is titled 'Fun and Games'. The episode follows Daisy (Chloe Bennet) into the Inhuman fighting pit set up by Kasius (Dominic Rains), the cruel Kree leader who rules over the last remnants of humanity in the dystopian future that season 5 has taken place in so far. Between the Inhuman gladiatorial arena and the extraterrestrial aristocrats watching on, Gregg's description of the episode to IGN seems all the more fitting:
"It's a big episode with some big stuff, and they really went with my ideas. Coming from indie film, I've really done something that's at the farthest end of different and still is the same concept. It was like doing a mini-Marvel movie. It's that episode, as people will see, that's a little bit like our version of Downton Abbey-meets-a very bloody, sci-fi version of Gladiator."
As indicated by Gregg, 'Fun and Games' isn't his first rodeo as a director. Gregg previously called the shots on the Chuck Palahniuk comedy/drama adaptation Choke, as well as the original comedy/drama Trust Me (which Gregg also starred in). However, when it came to directing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Gregg found the experience of working within the framework of a well-established property to be quite different from his directorial efforts past:
"I would watch the episodes [of SHIELD] be directed and I would go, 'This is so different from anything I've done. The role of a director of a television show is very different than when you're making an indie film and you wrote it or you adapted it, and you are rewriting it on the fly and you're the sole voice. You're not trying to fit into an existing thematic style [or] visual style. It's a very different beast."
Gregg's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. costars, for their parts, seem more than happy with his efforts on 'Fun and Games'. Bennet praised him for "adding this really great texture to certain scenes, and really funny beats, that I don’t think someone else would be able to." Iain De Caestecker, whose character (Leo) Fitz has now finally caught up with his friends in the future, echoed Bennet's sentiment, saying "There’s a lot of beats that are significant character-wise with characters that have been going on for five seasons now which Clark really understands."
All things considered, it seems like Gregg should make a nice splash with his directing debut on the Marvel/ABC series. That will further allow the show to maintain the top notch quality of its extra cosmic fifth season 5 thus far, heading into the 100th Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode overall in the not so distant future.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues this Friday, January 5, with 'Fun and Games' on ABC.