Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted a new character who is in many respects a first for the Marvel Cinematic Universe – Ruby is the anti-Spider-Man. After spending the first half of season 5 in the future, the team of secret agents led by Phil Coulson has returned to present day, only to run into Ruby, a mysterious new enemy unlike any they have encountered before.
Portrayed by Dove Cameron, Ruby Hale seemed like a typical teenager in the MCU. The daughter of General Hale – the military official now tasked with bringing down S.H.I.E.L.D., the world’s wanted fugitives – Ruby was absorbed by whatever was playing on her mobile device when we first meet her. She was flippant and rude to her mother, and she was in trouble for skipping out on her classes. But Ruby was also obviously intelligent, especially when she questioned the general about whether she was “a good guy”. Ruby goes even further, pointedly asking her mother, “Are you sure you’re not a bad guy?” We quickly learned the answer to that very question about Ruby: Clad in a mask and costume, Ruby led a strike team against Coulson’s Agents. Even worse, Ruby used her razor-sharp chakram to shockingly slice off both of Yo-Yo Rodriguez’s arms!
Spider-Man: Homecoming introduced fans to the MCU’s teenagers, the younger generation who grew up in a world where Iron Man, Thor, and the Avengers exist. Peter Parker himself hero worshiped Tony Stark, and Homecoming was primarily about Spider-Man wanting to impress his mentor so he can become a full-time Avenger. When we first meet Ruby, we can’t miss the poster of Daisy “Quake” Johnson prominently displayed on her bedroom wall. “QUAKE IS MY HERO,” is written on the poster, so our mystery blonde is quite clearly taken with the most powerful Inhuman in the MCU. However, Ruby’s vicious attack on Daisy’s friends shows that her hero worship of Quake has a sinister edge to it. Ruby was even disappointed Quake wasn’t present when she confronted S.H.I.E.L.D. There’s no telling what harm Ruby might have done to her ‘hero’ had they met.
Though answers to the many questions fans have about Ruby are surely coming in the episodes ahead, we can already surmise that Ruby is a much darker take on a teenager in the MCU, especially compared to Peter Parker and his high school chums. Despite her musing over whether General Hale is good or bad, Ruby’s own moral compass is totally out of whack. Ruby seems to have been raised in isolation and trained to kill by her mother. How she turned out the way she did could be a combination of both nature and nurture, but she’s definitely a deadly threat to S.H.I.E.L.D. Ruby has not only permanently disfigured Yo-Yo, she doesn’t feel the slightest bit of remorse about it.
Whether or not it’s her upbringing to blame or if Ruby is really just a rotten apple at the core, she is a stark contrast to the other teenagers the MCU has introduced so far. Peter Parker and even the group of friends in The Runaways have sound, heroic moral compasses. They struggle to do what’s right, at a great personal cost to them. The Runaways even turn their back on their parents because they morally oppose the evil the elder generation is complicit in. Peter, meanwhile, is famously driven by his moral code of great power equating great responsibility. Ruby is their opposite number. She is as deadly as Sinara, Kasius’ Kree assassin in the future, but with the youthful face of an angel.
Even more than Wanda Maximoff when the Scarlet Witch was a briefly a villain, Ruby is the MCU’s first scary teen. She is definitely no do-gooder like Spider-Man – Ruby is a killer. It remains to be seen what exactly Ruby has in store for Quake when Daisy meets her ‘biggest fan’, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans can be sure Ruby’s not interested in a selfie and Quake’s autograph.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s 100th episode airs Friday, March 9th @ 9 pm on ABC.
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