Whedon and ABC respond to DC’s Arrow with pilot for Marvel S.H.I.E.L.D. series

Last month ABC released its order for a pilot for a new Avengers spinoff TV series called S.H.I.E.L.D., beased on the classic Marvel Comics secret military/law enforcement agency created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1965.  The acronym originally stood for Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division, which later changed to Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate and currently the Marvel film universe uses the acronym to mean Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.  Whatever it stands for, it means the return of Joss Whedon to TV, after his successful series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and less successful but popular Firefly and Dollhouse. 

Director of the big budget, successful 2012 release The Avengers, Whedon is expected to produce and co-write the pilot along with brother Jed and wife Maurissa Tanchareon.  Writer/exec Jeph Loeb may also serve as executive producer.  Joss Whedon also might be directing the pilot, but that has not yet been confirmed.  Agent Coulson from the Avenger franchise movies, played by Clark Gregg, is scheduled to make an appearance in the TV series, despite his death in this year’s blockbuster film The Avengers.  No word yet has been released if the guy most tied to S.H.I.E.L.D. will ever make an appearance–Nick Fury, played in the movies by Samuel L. Jackson.  It seems highly unlikely, since Whedon has said the TV series will operate independently from the movies.

ABC/Marvel disclosed some characters being cast:

  • Agent Grant Ward – hothead/volatile character
  • Agent Althea Rice – ace pilot, weapons expert
  • Agent Leo Fitz – weapons expert
  • Agent Jemma Simmons –  science expert

The first casting decision was for the character Melinda May, an ace pilot and weapons expert that might have replaced Agent Rice, to be played by actress Ming-Na (Mulan, E/R, SGU Stargate, Eureka).

It’s evidently a good time to bring on the superhero TV series as Arrow released its third successful episode Wednesday, and the CW Network confirmed this week it is picking up a full season of Arrow.  The CW Network disclosed that the pilot episode was the single highest rated episode in three years, with viewership around 3.5 million–more than watched the series finale of Smallville.  A full first season will give the writers a shot at making a lasting show, and using each of the more than 14 known DC Comics characters already cast for the series to date.

C.J. Bunce

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