Sponsored by the Paley Center for Media , thePaleyfest is a two week event which allows fans to connect with the producers and cast members of their favorite television shows via a live panel.
This year, I got to see the panel for two of my favorite shows: ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and ABC’s Marvel: Agents of Shield.
Today, I thought I’d share highlights from the Marvel Agents of Shield Panel, which happened last March 23rd, 2014.
Created for ABC by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a television series based on the Marvel Comics’ organization of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. The show ‘s timeline begins right after THE AVENGERS movie and follows S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson (played by Clark Gregg), after his death in the Avengers movie. Yes, you read that right, Agent Coulson is mysteriously brought back to life, and the show is partly about the mystery of his resurrection.
The Dolby Theater was packed with fans of the show, some wearing full Marvel regalia. There were even little kids dressed up as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents.
Executive Producer Jeph Loeb began the presentation by asking the audience not to leak any spoilers via social media or otherwise. When he was satisfied with everyone’s response, he announced, “You are now cleared to level seven.” After that, the audience was treated to the next episode, which was to air on April 1st
Executive Producer Jeph Loeb to audience: “You are now cleared to Level 7.”
It was such an amazing experience to watch the episode 8 days before it would air in public—and with other people who love the show as much as I do.I enjoyed hearing the collective gasps, cheers and laughter of fellow fans.
After watching the episode, actress Felicia Day (Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) came on stage to introduce the panel she would be moderating.
Actress/ Panel Moderator Felicia Day introduces the panel
Producers and and producers and co-creators Jeph Loeb, Jeffrey Bell, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen were joined by Agents of Shield stars Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson), Ming-Na Wen (Agent Melinda May), Brett Dalton (Agent Grant Ward), Chloe Bennet (Skye), Iain De Caestecker (Leo Fitz) and Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons).
Panel Moderator Felicia Day with Producers Jeph Loeb, Jeffrey Bell, Cast members Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Ian De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, along with producers/co-creators Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen.
Producer Jeph Loeb teased the show’s April 8th episode –a crossover with Captain America, which was at the time, still set for release on April 4th. Loeb mentioned that the idea for Marvel Agents of SHIELD actually came from Greg Clark himself. He and Gregg were at a fan event for the Ultimate Spider Man and Gregg kept on whispering “Coulson lives” in Loeb’s ear as an idea of a TV series. Gregg didn’t quite remember the incident but Loeb insisted it was the truth.
“I was really dead. It was very clear, since there was a lot of blood,” Gregg said, when asked if he really did die in the Avengers movie. He credits “Coulson” lives campaigns with bringing his character back to life. “I have 11,000 Twitter aliases, all of whom were very integral to starting the ‘Coulson Lives’ movement,”he added.
Producer Jeffrey Bell pointed out that Marvel Comics fans always knew that Coulson lived, at least in the world of comics, so bringing him to life via the TV series, actually followed the Marvel storyline.
Clark Gregg was in top form during the panel, even hopping off the stage twice to hug two fans. The first was a fan who was apparently very sad that Gregg’s character died in Avengers, and was ecstatic when he was resurrected for the show. The second, was to hug a fan who’d created framed artwork for all the cast members.
Producer Maurissa Tancharoen said that Agent May was originally named Agent Rice. But when Ming Na Wen was cast for the role, the name was no longer appropriate. It has since become a running joke for the cast.
The producers also shared that the characters for Fitz and Simmons were inspired by the chemistry between Casey Affleck’s and Scott Caan’s character s in “Ocean’s Eleven.” Fitz and Simmons were not originally written as being from the UK, but after Henstridge and De Caestecker auditioned and got the part, the change was made.
The two actors have intentionally been playing their characters more as brother and sister, but if the fans get their way, that might change in season 2. The actors joked that if that happened, it might make things kind of awkward.
Skye’s parentage is a big part of the Agents of Shield storyline and many fans guess that she might actually be the daughter of either Agent May or Agent Coulson. Actress Ming-Na Wen says she wants Skye to be the lovechild of Agent May and Thor. She even volunteered to endure several long flashbacks of the affair, if necessary. Clark Gregg joked that he thought Skye should be the lovechild of Agent Coulson and Lady Sif.
When asked who among the Avengers she’d want to work alongside, Chloe Bennet who plays Skye, responded that she was interested in working with either of the Chris’s. “Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) would be nice,” she said. The producers also brought up Chloe’s past as a teen pop singer in China. And Chloe, ever game, even showed the audience a little bit of her dance moves.
Elizabeth Henstridge (Simmons) said she’d love to do a scene with Loki. “Maybe Simmons can have tea with Loki,” she said. Gregg quickly remarked, “You know I’ve been in a scene with Loki…”
Moderator Felicia Day asked Brett Dalton about Agent Ward’s reputation as a ladies’ man and his many love scenes in the show. Brett replied, “It definitely doesn’t suck.” Chloe Bennet joked that she would bring along Dalton’s abs. “Just his abs”, if she were stranded on an island. “I’d wash my clothes on them.” Producer Tancharoen quipped, “And this is why we give them dialogue.”
Brett’s character Agent Ward had a physical relationship with May but seems to have a thing for Skye. Brett quipped that his character was no longer a lone wolf, and that he’s learned to “play with the team.”
Series co-creator Maurissa Tancharoen revealed that one thing which convinced them Brett could do stunts was his resume, where he listed that he had attended Clown School.
During the Q & A, a fan wearing a “Coulson is my Home Boy” shirt remarked that for a secret organization, the S.H.I.E.L.D. has a lot of stuff bearing its logo, including an espresso machine on the plane. Gregg joked,” Fitz can give you a latte where the foam is the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.” but later on explained that the organization itself isn’t a secret, but what they do is.
Another fan asked if the show was set to be renewed for Season 2. The producers replied that they weren’t sure yet. The audience laughed when the fan quipped, “So who do I have to shank?”
Producer Jeffrey Bell said they hoped they would be renewed as they had long term plans for the series. They already know where Season 2 would go, and they know where they want Season 3 to end, and which character will still be alive by then.
The cast admitted that even they don’t know what’s going to happen with the storyline. The producers and writers are very secretive about their work and often times the cast would try to get hints from the writers. Ming-Na said that “The whole season has been jaw-dropping surprises. They don’t tell us anything… Marvel is SHIELD!”
Chloe Bennett added that she has been trying to guess what it means for her character to be an O-84. She said she’s always doing research on the comics and calling up Marvel asking “Am I this? Or this? Or this?” , to which they always answer “Nope.” Chloe says she has many theories, but still has no idea what the real answer is.
After the Q & A, the audience swarmed toward the stage to get autographs from their favorite stars.
We didn’t even bother to join the crazy crowd. We were just happy to watch our favorite cast members sign autographs.
I don’t know what shows next year’s Paleyfest will feature, but after a great experience this year, I’m already looking forward to it.
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