For seven seasons starting in 2013, Marvel Television and ABC Studios’ soap opera, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., adapted characters and story lines from Marvel Comics that were unlikely to ever make their way into any of the company’s mainstream films. With former head of Marvel TV, Jeph Loeb, stepping aside and the company falling under the oversight of Marvel Studios One-Above-All, Kevin Fiege, the series was not renewed following its seventh season, which received rave reviews from all 15 critics who took the time to watch it and share their opinions with Rotten Tomatoes.
In late-2018, Marvel Studios began developing its own series which were set to become key central to Disney’s efforts to enter the streaming wars. By early 2019, development on several series had begun, including Hawkeye, which would be officially announced by Feige at SDCC ’19. Hawkeye recently concluded its 6-episode streaming run and, in its finale, clearly identified Laura Barton, played since 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron by Linda Cardellini, as a former Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. More specifically, it was made clear that Laura was Agent 19, a designation that belonged only to Barbara “Bobbi” Morse, also known as Mockingbird, the one-time wife of Clint Barton. This revelation indicated to fans that the events of the long-running ABC soap opera, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., could no longer be considered canonical in the Sacred Timeline of the MCU since that show had its own Bobbi Morse who had a very different story.
With the startling revelation that Marvel Studios would choose to tell its own stories with the character it controls, we thought it a good time to take a look at other characters from the ABC series who could be recast and see their stories retold in the Sacred Timeline.
The Secret Warriors
In the mid-2000’s, Marvel Comics’ writer Brian Michael Bendis went on a hot streak the likes of which was rarely seen before it and has rarely been seen since. Beginning in 2004 with Secret War, Bendis weaved a fascinating story with Nick Fury at the center. After killing one his old friends, Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine, and finding out she was a Skrull, Fury began assembling, in secret, a team of under-the-radar powered warriors to fight back. These individuals were called Caterpillars and were split up into 3 teams each of which were led by agents who Fury deeply trusted. First appearing in Mighty Avengers #13 during the company’s line-wide Secret Invasion event (overseen by Bendis, who wrote the event series), Fury’s Secret Warriors eventually headlined their own series (co-written by Bendis and Jonathan Hickman). Starting in 2009, Secret Warriors took readers on an absolutely insane ride that slowly unraveled a wild story that included Leonardo da Vinci’s secret council of spies, known as the Great Wheel of the Zodiac.
The third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was loosely based on parts of Bendis and Hickman’s Secret Warriors as it saw Agent Coulson and Daisy Johnson assemble a group of Caterpillars who, in the show, were Inhumans, to battle Hydra and the Hive.
In May of 2020, it was revealed that Marvel Studios has been developing their own Secret Warriors project. Should this project go into development and stick a little more closely to the source material, Marvel Studios could chose to repurpose the following five characters, all of whom were integral to the Secret Warriors comic book though not all of them appeared in the Season 3 Secret Warriors arc of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Daisy Johnson/Quake
- Elena Rodriquez/Yo-Yo
- J.T. Slade/Hellfire
- Madame Hydra
- Daniel Whitehall/Kraken
Season Four of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. featured Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes in one of the most beloved arcs of the series. Earlier this year, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. VFX supervisor Mark Kolpack revealed that the creators turned to Reyes’ character after abruptly being told they could NOT use original Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze, whose story they had already been prepping and planning to tease at the end of Season 3. And so, Robbie Reyes showed up for 10 episodes before picking up the Darkhold (which was also recently recast in WandaVision) and pissing off for Hell, never to be seen again.
As Kolpak indicated in the interview, Feige has plans for Marvel Studios to use Blaze (in fact, they may have found their guy) and are developing a solo Ghost Rider project.
One of the first teasers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. featured a character jumping out of a building and cracking the concrete beneath his feet. Fans speculated WILDLY about who it might be. Was it Luke Cage? Nope. It was legendary Marvel Comics’ character Mike Peterson, portrayed by J. August Richards. Peterson, a one-time Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., volunteered for the Centipede Project which was meant to build an army of super soldier for Hydra. Apparently a big project guy, Peterson then became a subject in Project Deathlok which turned him into a laughable version of the comic book character. I mean he had a rocket launcher in his forearm.
Interestingly enough, in 2019 Deadline reported that Marvel Studios was looking to use the character in an upcoming project. Presumably, the studio would do so by using one of the five comic book characters who have become Deathlok and not creating a new character to act as a poor substitute.
In another pretty poor page-to-screen adaptation, Victoria Hand went from a S.H.I.E.L.D. accountant fired by Nick Fury in the comics to a Level 8 Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the show. Hand’s time on the show was short, thankfully, as she was betrayed and murdered by Grant Ward. In the comics, Hand became the right hand of Norman Osborn as he rose to power in the aftermath of the Skrull Invasion of Earth and helped him create the Thunderbolts. She later became an Avenger and was killed by a ghost, which not many people can say.
Production on Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion is underway and there’s no telling how messy things will get in the MCU following the events of the paranoia-driven series and who will be left standing to pick up the pieces. Obviously S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn’t existed in years, but that doesn’t mean a version of Victoria Hand doesn’t exist in the MCU, waiting to be redeemed for how she was handled in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
If there was one thing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did incredibly well, it was utilizing interesting comic book villains in incredibly uninteresting ways. Franklin Hall, Graviton, a one-time Master of Evil, A.I.M.’s Minister of Science and an Avengers-level threat was forgotten about after being introduced in Season 1 before his powers were, inexplicably given to Glenn Talbot. Mr. Hyde was turned into a homeless, junkie and the father of Quake (and then the comics retconned Daisy’s whole past to line up with the show). Small-timers Blizzard and Blackout were unceremoniously dispatched. And that brings us, finally, to Carl Creel, the Absorbing Man, who ended up being used by Talbot to turn him into Graviton?
- Franklin Hall/Graviton
- Calvin Johnson/Calvin Zabo/Mr. Hyde
- Carl Creel/Absorbing Man
- Marcus Daniels/Blackout
- Donald Gill/Blizzard
- Glenn Talbot
Of these characters, it’s possible that Carl “Crusher” Creel could show up in the MCU in the next year. Creel’s wife, Titania, plays a major role in She-Hulk and the two have been nearly inseparable in the comics over the past several years. Creel’s power set, much like many of the rest of the villains on the list above, would play much, much better in the big budget world of Marvel Studios television than they did on the melodrama budget of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And Talbot has been a thorn in the side of Hulk since the 1960s; hell, he was even included in Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk. He deserves an upgrade, too.
Fingers crossed, True Believers! Some day some of your favorite heroes and villains will make the jump to the big leagues and join the MCU, just like Agent 19, aka Mockingbird, aka Bobbi Morse, aka Laura Barton.