Joss Whedon Talks of 'Hopeful' S.H.I.E.L.D. Pilot, Plans for Maria Hill and Other Marvel Characters
“I’m excited about the show because it’s a very hopeful show,” Whedon told TVLine Sunday at the 2013 Streamy Awards, where he was nominated for best guest appearance (in Husbands). “It’s not about murder, and it’s not about crime, and it’s not people looking into their own belly buttons. It’s about people who are trying to help each other, and that’s one of the things I loved about comic books. They had costumes and the villains were cool [but] they stood for something, and I like doing a show that does that.”
In addition to being very hopeful (and “very Joss,” as ABC boss Paul Lee has said), Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. — not surprisingly — will very strongly evoke its source material. “We’re trying very hard to be true to [Marvel's] ethos and also to the structure of their universe,” Whedon shared. “So it is definitely a Marvel show.”
That said, Whedon says to expect “not a ton” of familiar faces from the Marvel-verse, though “there’s a little bit of talk of that” for any possible future the project has in primetime. “Right now, I want to involve people in the characters that we’ve created for the show,” Whedon said, “and then we’ll worry about [the other stuff].”
Currently, the cast for S.H.I.E.L.D. — which wrapped filming on the pilot last week and is being fast-tracked by ABC — includes ER alum Ming-Na (as former soldier Melinda May), Clark Gregg (reprising his big-screen Avengers role as Agent Phil Coulson), Nashville’s Chloe Bennet (playing superhero culture-obsessed Skye), British beauty Elizabeth Henstridge (science expert Gemma Simmons), Scotsman Iain De Caestecker (tech whiz Leo Fitz) and Brett Dalton (rising star Agent Grant).
Last month, there was talk that Cobie Smulders might sneak away from How I Met Your Mother to at least cameo as Maria Hill, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent she played in Whedon’s The Avengers. In actuality, Whedon cautions that Smulders’ schedule “will permit very little” involvement, “but if we can get a hold of her anytime, we will.”
After all, the auteur said, weaving in previous inhabitants of his own Whedonverse is nice, but never imperative.
“You look for the best person for the role, and if that person is someone you already know, then great. That’s some work done for you,” he told us. “But as much as I would love to — and once did — make a movie just with my friends, you always want to increase the family.” (With reporting by Scott Huver)