We’re expanding again with dedicated coverage of Marvel and Disney comics. The author may be a familiar name as she’s a long time MiceChatter and a planner on our special events crew. Please give a warm welcome to Gwen, whom many of you know on the forums as MaryAnn in Wndrlnd.

The tale that we tell is really quite charming, though to many theme park fans it was also alarming. For the story that we are about to unfold began in the offices of Bob Iger we’re told. So sit back, settle in for a wonderful ride as we tell you when happens when Marvel and Disney collide!

For my first article, I’m going to give a brief rundown on the development of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D television show. There’s a lot of hype behind this proposed series. You’re about to see why . . .

WHERE WE’VE BEEN

May 2012:  Marvel’s “The Avengers” movie, written and directed by fan favorite, Joss Whedon, opens to sold-out theaters.  By the end of 2012, the movie had grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide. A breathtaking outcome.

August 2012:  Disney announces that Whedon has signed an exclusive contract with Marvel Studios for a film and television development deal that lasts until June 2015. In addition to writing and directing “The Avengers 2” and creatively contributing to Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Whedon will develop a new live action television series for ABC.

August 28, 2012:  Deadline Hollywood reports that ABC has ordered a pilot for “S.H.I.E.L.D.” from Marvel TV, ABC Studios and Whedon.  “S.H.I.E.L.D.” will be based on the Marvel Comics organization of the same name (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) which played a huge role in “The Avengers.”  Whedon will direct and he will also write with Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen.  All three plus Jeph Loeb (Executive Vice President, Head of Television at Marvel) and Jeffrey Bell will executive produce.

October 1, 2012:  TV Line obtains a casting sheet for the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” pilot.  It contains the following character breakdowns:

SKYE | This late-20s woman sounds like a dream: fun, smart, caring and confident – with an ability to get the upper hand by using her wit and charm.
AGENT GRANT WARD | Quite the physical specimen and “cool under fire,” he sometimes botches interpersonal relations. He’s a quiet one with a bit of a temper, but he’s the kind of guy that grows on you.
AGENT ALTHEA RICE | Also known as “The Calvary,” this hard-core soldier has crazy skills when it comes to weapons and being a pilot. But her experiences have left her very quiet and a little damaged.
AGENT LEO FITZ and AGENT JEMMA SIMMONS | These two came through training together and still choose to spend most of their time in each other’s company. Their sibling-like relationship is reinforced by their shared nerd tendencies – she deals with biology and chemistry, he’s a whiz at the technical side of weaponry.

October 13, 2012:  Marvel announces at New York Comic Con that Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), will appear in the pilot for “S.H.I.E.L.D.”  AVENGERS SPOILER ALERT:  Agent Coulson, after appearing in “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” and “Thor,” was supposedly killed off in “The Avengers.”  This announcement leads the fandom to speculate where, if at all, in the Marvel Cinematic Timeline “S.H.I.E.L.D” takes place.

Ming-Na Wen cast as Agent Melinda May

October 24, 2012:  Deadline reports that Ming-Na Wen has been cast as Agent Melinda May in the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” pilot.  This character was originally named Agent Althea Rice in the previously released casting notice.

Elizabeth Henstridge will play Agent Gemma Simmons

November 13, 2012:  The Hollywood Reporter reports that two more roles have been cast in the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” pilot.  Elizabeth Henstridge will play Agent Gemma Simmons (previously Jemma) and Iain De Caestecker will play Agent Leo Fitz.

Brett Dalton has been cast as Agent Grant Ward

November 27, 2012:  TV Line reports that Brett Dalton has been cast in the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” pilot as Agent Grant Ward.

Chloe Bennet has been cast as Skye.

December 19, 2012:  The Hollywood Reporter reports that Chloe Bennet has been cast as the sixth and final series regular in the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” pilot.  Bennet will play Skye.

January 10, 2013:  At the Television Critics Association press tour, ABC President Paul Lee confirms to IGN that not only does “S.H.I.E.L.D.” take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it takes place after the events of  “The Avengers.”   Lee also confirms that Marvel will begin shooting the pilot in late January and that there is no series pickup yet.   AVENGERS SPOILER ALERT:  Fans begin speculating about how Marvel will resolve Agent Coulson’s previous death.

January 22, 2013:  Filming begins on the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” pilot.  Marvel starts releasing set photos and information via the official Facebook page and Twitter account for “S.H.I.E.L.D.” around this same time.

January 26, 2013:  In an interview with I Am Rogue, regarding the possibility of her “Avengers” character, Maria Hill, appearing in episodes of “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Cobie Smulders states, “The commitments to [How I Met Your Mother] don’t affect it.  And I can’t really say but there are definite talks about it.”

February 11, 2013:  Filming wraps on the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” pilot.

March 7, 2013:  In an interview with Deadline, Joss Whedon talks a bit about his vision for “S.H.I.E.L.D.”:

 The idea of the Little Guy is something that I am very fierce about, and there has never been a better Little Guy than Clark Gregg. That intrigued me, this world around the superhero community. It’s the people whose shop windows get blown up when the Destroyer shows up. It’s the more intimate stories that belong on television that we can really tap into the visual style and ethos, and even some of the mythology, of the Marvel movies. I think we’ve put together another really great ensemble headed by Clark. And how much it’s actually seeding or hinting or reacting to what’s going on in the movies is something we’ll let play out as we go. For me the most important thing is that people fall in love with it on its own merits, rather than constantly asking, ‘Is there gonna be an Avenger?’ Well, there’s not gonna be a Hulk because that guy’s too expensive.

March 10, 2013:  AVENGERS SPOILER ALERT:  CinemaBlend reports that while at South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival, during a Q&A for “Much Ado About Nothing,” a Shakespeare adaptation he directed, Joss Whedon attempted to answer a question about how Agent Coulson comes back from the dead for “S.H.I.E.L.D.”  “I’ll tell you guys this, Heimlich,” Whedon joked.  He then said, “I can’t talk about it,” and finally left it at confirming Coulson is indeed alive and starring in “S.H.I.E.L.D.”   “Yes, for realsies.”

WHERE WE ARE NOW

Since the pilot is done filming, and we haven’t heard any announcements about a series pick up yet, we can assume that the creative team is completing the special effects and editing the footage for ABC network executives to review. But you can bet that Bob Iger will place plenty of pressure on those executives to pick up the series, and order more episodes. It helps that Disney owns both ABC and Marvel, don’t you think?

WHAT’S IN THE FUTURE

If the pilot is indeed sent to series, you can expect it to be set for a fall 2013 premiere.  As is common in the television industry, there may be large changes to the show between when pilot filming wraps and when the pilot airs.  There could be casting shake-ups, new scripts written, and creative team members sacked.  When it comes to more established properties with a practical guarantee of a series pick-up, you tend to see less of these drastic changes.  And “S.H.I.E.L.D.” has enough industry buzz that it would take A LOT of problems to crop up to prevent this show from going to series.  Disney has been chomping at the bit to bring Marvel characters to primetime since Disney first acquired Marvel – having previously sent several properties to development with no fruition as of yet.  With Joss Whedon’s proven track record on “The Avengers,” ABC and Marvel should have full faith in his vision.  And with the passionate fan base that Agent Coulson has developed over the years, all signs point to “S.H.I.E.L.D.” being a runaway hit for ABC and Marvel.

Well, my friends, are you looking forward to “S.H.I.E.L.D.” as much as I am? How do YOU think they’ll bring back Agent Coulson?  I’ve got my own ideas.  But that may be another article…

Until next time, thank you for reading. I look forward to your comments below!