The first TV show of the Marvel Cinematic universe is still going strong at the end of its third season, and ABC's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." rode a wave of fan support into WonderCon 2016 in Los Angeles.
Head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb led the panel that assembled almots the entire core "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." cast including Clark Gregg, Chloe Bennett, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Henry Simmons, Luke Mitchell and Elizabeth Henstridge along with writer Jeff Bell.
The panel started out with mock somberness as Loeb ran a highlight reel of appearances of the recently disavowed agents Bobbi "Mockingbird" Morse and Lance Hunter who have been written off to pursue their own spinoff called "Marvel's Most Wanted" which is now in the pilot phase. "It's them doing what they do best, which is banter and fight and banter," said Bell. "I think it's a nice companion piece to 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' It's about a relationship. It's about two people who keep secrets from each other."
"It was a beautifully written episode that made me as fan want to see that show," he said. "Suddenly you're having to say goodbye to two disavowed agents. You've read the script…but suddenly you're standing in a bar saying goodbye to two people who showed up on your team/in your life…you're saying goodbye to these two people who you've come to care about…you're a mess because our lives have become so much about the show. When I did check in on the interwebs this week, I saw more GIFs of people sobbing – ugly crying. The Brittany guy was very upset about this."
Talked turned to the doomed romances on the show as Bennett and Mitchell joked that they have an ongoing text war where they threaten to eat the grossest things imaginable before their kissing scenes. Wen said of Agent May's monstrous ex husband "I have that effect on men." But at least things were looking up for Fitz and Simmons as Henstridge said that the pair are working on strengthening their relationship in the show.
An upcoming episode will reveal some backstory for Simmons' Agent Mack at long last as a result of the loss of Morse and Hunter. Bennett said Simmons brought the farewell episode home, saying, "When Mack cries the world cries."
Fan questions open in a wacky manner as a young fan pretending to be Grant Ward berated Gregg about his interplanetary killing of the turncoat agent. Things kept being odd as someone wanted to know what Inhuman powers the cast would want. Bennett said that she loves the powers she has because it allows her to pretend like she's in "Star Wars." Dalton wants to travel in time. Wen wants "to heal people…and make men cry."
Things got more serious as Bennett and Mitchell explored their feelings on the debate between Lincoln and Daisy about whether Inhumanity is a birthright or a choice. The actors said that they have a hard time committing fully to one side or the other because they feel the strength of the material is in the debate. Loeb added, "At least in my lifetime, I don't know that the subjects of race and religion and gender or man's inhumanity to man….or woman has ever been this much in the public sphere. To have a show full of great writing and fun and tech but one where you can also walk away feeling 'Folks, we've got to figure this out how we can learn to love each other,' I think that's what this show has become."
The cast praised their writers for deepening the show's themes and ideas in the recent season, and some special spotlight was paid to composer Greg Bear who has become a critical part of the feel of the show since its very inception.
A fan wanting to know whether the talk on the series of an Inhuman in Australia would pay off soon got a "watch and see response" from Loeb as he tried to keep spoilers under wraps. The panel also balked at questions about whether the "Doctor Strange" movie would bring magic into the series.
The proceedings did end with a look towards the future: an advanced screening of the next episode. But you won't find any spoilers here.
"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." airs Tuesday nights on ABC.