Post-The Avengers Joss Whedon is ready to return to the small screen, where he earned his geek street cred by creating such cult TV series as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly. However, he'll still be operating within the parameters of the Marvel Universe, with his new show: a spinoff centered around the (not-so) secret government organization called S.H.I.E.L.D.
S.H.I.E.L.D. is scheduled to commence filming as soon as next month (January 2013, that is), with Whedon directing the pilot episode. As speculated before, the television program is indeed being lined up to begin airing on ABC by the 2013 Fall TV season. But will S.H.I.E.L.D.'s current boss Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) appear in any significant capacity?
PREVIEWSworld caught up recently with Jeph Loeb, the decorated comic book writer (whose credits include famous titles like "Spider-Man: Blue" and "Batman: The Long Halloween") and Marvel Head of Television. He offered the following, with regard to S.H.I.E.L.D.:
Well...we have a "little" pilot for television that you might have heard about called Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D. co-written, directed, and Executive Produced by none other than Joss Whedon! Working with Joss, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jeffrey Bell on the show is a blast! And bringing in Clark Gregg to play Agent Phil Coulson -- the best! Hopefully we will be on in the Fall of 2013 on ABC!
Bell, for those unaware, was a writer and co-executive producer on Angel, Alias and The Protecter; meanwhile, Jed Whedon and Tancharoen (Joss' brother and sister-in-law) were collaborators on the Web sensation Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and not-so-successful Dollhouse TV series. S.H.I.E.L.D. is expected to bear a stronger resemblance in tone and style to both The Avengers and Whedon's more-renowned shows; less the comparatively grave conspiracy-thriller atmosphere of Dollhouse, that is.
As for SLJ's involvement with S.H.I.E.L.D., here is what the actor told MTV:
"I don't know. I keep hearing about it, and I haven't talked to Joss about it. But in my mind, I would tend to think that he would, if nothing else, be like Charlie in 'Charlie's Angels.' At least be the voice!"
Jackson, of course, returns to work in the Marvel Movie Universe next March with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which he anticipates will explore the Fury character's backstory (to some degree). Thus, availability shouldn't be too much of an issue, with respect to the task of fitting Jackson into the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot; at the least, that could help bridge the gap between the MMU and Whedon's television creation.
Whedon's S.H.I.E.LD. TV show won't be drawing heavily from the Marvel comics; rather, it's shaping up to be the product of its showrunners' collective imagination, with the addition of MMU characters like Agent Coulson (whose involvement suggests the series takes place in the pre-Avengers timeline of events). The main characters on the show include:
- Agent Grand Ward (Brett Dalton)
- Agent Althea Rice (Ming-na Wen)
- Agent Leo Fitz & Agent Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge and Ian De Caestecker)
Similarly, Whedon has said that S.H.I.E.L.D. "needs to be its own thing" and unfold in a world that feels adjacent to the MMU. Nonetheless, that doesn't remove the chance of an occasional appearance from people like Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill or Jackson as Fury. Maybe the latter could even use his distinctive vocals to provide old-fashioned serial-adventure style voiceover narration introduction for the opening of each episode (a la Legend of Korra)?
... Okay, probably not, but still...
Screen Rant will continue to keep you posted on all S.H.I.E.L.D. developments.