My first article for MiceChat, back in March, was a recap of everything that’s been announced regarding the upcoming “S.H.I.E.L.D.” television show from Joss Whedon.

Since then, there has been quite a bit of news, rumors, and confirmations surrounding the show. I’m here  to get you up to speed on what’s gone on in the last two months!

SHIELD ORDERED TO SERIES

Let’s get the biggest news out of the way first. In case you’ve been living under a rock these last few weeks, ABC announced on May 10 that “S.H.I.E.L.D.” has been ordered for a full 24 episode series for the 2013-2014 television season with the official title, “’Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” “S.H.I.E.L.D” is currently occupying the Tuesday at 8 pm time slot on ABC’s fall schedule.

SHIELD Team Publicity Shot

They have released several videos, including a trailer, on the official website: www.agentsofshield.com

There is also a second level website, accessed by clicking “PROCEED” on the home page, that is clearly made to look like a website that exists in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. You can find it at: www.wearetherisingtide.com/blog/

risingtide

As you can see in the trailer, Skye, the hacker, is interrupted while taping a video segment. Perhaps this is Skye’s blog?

Of course, there is always the network’s website for more standard, official publicity fare:
http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/marvels-agents-of-shield/

And then there’s Facebook and Twitter.
www.facebook.com/AgentsofShield
www.twitter.com/agentsofshield

J. AUGUST RICHARDS CAST IN “S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Beginning in March, several online news sites, in addition to Whedon himself, reported and confirmed that J. August Richards has been cast in an unnamed role in “S.H.I.E.L.D.”

J. August Richards

Richards is a known Whedon alumni, having appeared as Charles Gunn on “Angel,” which was a spin-off from Whedon’s first television show, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

When this news broke back in the beginning of April, all parties were remaining extremely tight lipped about what role Richards will play. One theory making the rounds was that he was playing a younger version of Nick Fury. Being that this would need to be accomplished in flashback sequences, I was skeptical. If Richards is scheduled to do more than just a guest star role, constant flashbacks to a younger Nick Fury seem a bit bizarre. At that time, ABC hadn’t confirmed that it was a recurring character. So, it was still a possibility.

There was also the theory that Richards is playing Nick Fury, Jr. Yes, there is a junior.

Nick Fury Jr.

Like many other comic book characters, Nick Fury, Jr.’s origin story is convoluted at best, appearing in multiple Marvel universes in various incarnations. The simplest explanation is as follows: Nick Fury, Jr. is Nick Fury’s son. As a part of Marvel’s 2012/2013 attempt to relaunch many of their characters and books, they debuted a new monthly series called “Secret Avengers” which features S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill, Agent Phil Coulson, Nick Fury Jr., Hawkeye and Black Widow as a top secret crime fighting team. In essence, Nick Fury, Jr. has replaced his father in current continuity.

This was a popular theory, if not for the simple reason that everyone wants to see Nick Fury in “S.H.I.E.L.D.” But the odds of Samuel L. Jackson signing on are slim. This way, we get a Nick Fury without having to have two different actors playing the role. And Nick Fury, Jr.’s comic book connections to current Marvel cinematic characters, especially Coulson, makes this any easy transition for the fan boys and girls.

But with the release of the official trailer video, we see Richards in action…and he appears to have super powers. If nothing else, he has some serious durability and strength. And if he has superpowers, unless they’re making serious revisions to Nick Fury or Nick Fury, Jr., those theories are out the door.

After the trailer was released, the internet, as it is known to do, immediately exploded with yet another theory as to who Richards is playing: Luke Cage.

Luke Cage

The evidence used to support this is that the superpowers displayed in the trailer seem to fit the character and that Richards definitely could pull off the look.

However, on May 15, Jeffrey Bell, one of the Executive Producers on the show, gave an interview to IGN that pretty much shut down all hopes that Richards is playing Luke Cage.

IGN: And I’ve got to ask about J. August Richards…

Bell: Killed it! He’s so good. He’s so good, because we were looking for this character M– I almost said his name. It’s not the one people are talking about.

[Editor’s Note: Yes, it kind of sounded like Bell was about to say a name beginning with an M… but maybe he just made a strong “HMM” sound when he stopped himself! Ah, so much to ponder.]

IGN: He’s not! So I’m going to say Luke Cage, and you’re going to say…

Bell: I’m going to say that’s an interesting Marvel character, but no. But he came in and killed it. Honestly, we were looking for this part, and we just said, look, all our parts are open to all diversity. So the fact that we have a black dude who is awesome and it’s J, was just because he was the best actor. It wasn’t like, “You know who…!”

IGN: Should we assume it’s someone familiar if you read Marvel comics?

Bell: You know, not necessarily. I mean, we’re going to draw from it, but Marvel has its thing, and we’re also going to be expanding forward, and this world is different since The Avengers. So I think there will be people showing up, some from the Marvel Universe and some not. But to commit to anything more would be telling.

With such a rich character history, one could guess that there really is a variety of Marvel superheros or villains he could be playing. He also could be playing a totally new character, invented strictly for the television series. But then why the secrecy? Considering that ethnicity is not a factor, according to Bell, anymore speculation at this point would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

If you must continue with the guessing game, Den of Geek posted a detailed list of contenders; ll established, African-American, Marvel superheros.

Of all of the suggestions offered, I find that the one most intriguing is Patriot.

Patriot

In Marvel comics, Patriot, aka Eli Bradley, is Isaiah Bradley’s grandson. Isaiah Bradley was a test subject during World War 2, in an attempt to recreate the Super Soldier Serum that was given to Captain America. Isaiah is often referred to as “the black Captain America.” Eli fights as Patriot to honor his grandfather and received a blood transfusion from him that gives him is super powers.

Including Patriot in the show offers an interesting alternative when Chris Evans retires from playing Captain America. As War Machine is raring to go in the case of Robert Downey, Jr.’s retirement, it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve set up their back-up plan well in advance.

And, of course, there’s this interesting tidbit of information from the Den of Geek article.

In the comic world, several Marvel editors and writers have confirmed that the reason Patriot was absent from the relaunch of his usual home series, “Young Avengers,” is that he’s “off the board”, which normally means there are specific plans for him elsewhere.

As fascinating as that addition might be, I don’t think it’s the most likely.

According to Den of Geek, there is some darn good evidence for Richards playing Rage.

pic5

Exposed to toxic chemicals at the age of 13, Elvin Daryl Haliday grew in strength and invulnerability until he appeared to be a muscular, 30 year old man. A relatively minor character, he has had appearances in numerous Marvel comics, including Avengers.

The evidence Den of Geek cites comes from Marvel’s title card at the front of the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” trailer.

This title card is used at the beginning of Marvel Cinematic Universe productions, featuring a comic book pages flipping underneath their logo. Historically, Marvel only uses images associated with the specific movie that the title card is in front of. For example, on the Iron Man movies, only comic book images from Iron Man are included.

Marvel Title Card

The internet went to work analyzing the title card in front of the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” trailer and found an image of Rage hidden among the pages.

If you were to force an official guess from me on who Richards is playing, Rage would be the winner. But honestly, it could be anyone’s game right now if what Bell says is true. Except maybe Spiderman.

AGENT COULSON’S TRIUMPHANT RETURN, MORE DETAILS

On April 26, Slashfilm reported that a source has revealed to them how the television show explains how and why Agent Coulson is still alive after his apparent death in “The Avengers.”

In the pilot, it’s revealed Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the ultimate super spy, faked Agent Coulson’s death on purpose to motivate The Avengers. Some S.H.I.E.L.D. members were in on it (including, possibly, Maria Hill played by Cobie Smulders) but The Avengers were not. Their security clearance wasn’t high enough. Coulson was forced to hold his breath as part of the ruse and that’s a point of contention among his colleagues After the fact, Fury moved him to a remote location until things died down, and then he was reinserted into duty at the time of the show.

Coulson SHIELD ID

I couldn’t find any verification of this story. And I imagine that, as Coulson’s return will be a huge plot point of “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” we won’t get confirmation. Pushing any skepticism aside due to the source, this is exactly how I thought this would go down. In fact, while I was sitting in the movie theater, watching Nick Fury tell the Avengers that Coulson was dead, I immediately turned to my husband and said, “Coulson’s not dead. Fury is faking it to motivate them.” He told me I was full of it.

True story. Don’t you love, “I told you so,” moments?

We won’t know until the show airs. But I gotta admit, it makes sense to me.

Well, that’s what I’ve got for today! Now that the show is announced for the fall lineup, most of the news coming our way will be fairly well publicized. If I hear anything else, I will keep you up to date.
Who do you think J. August Richards is playing? How do you feel about the giant take back that Coulson is indeed alive? Did YOU see it coming? Until next time, EXCELSIOR!