Warning: This post contains spoilers for Captain America: Civil War and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode 3×20, “Emancipation.”
From the beginning, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been tightly connected with the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, bringing in Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) who was first introduced in The Avengers. As the movies and the series have progressed, however, there seem to be less connections between the network TV show and the movies, but there was no doubt going into last night’s episode that there would be connections to the most recent cinematic release, Captain America: Civil War.
The first scene tied directly into the movie, referencing the Sokovia Accords, Peggy Carter’s death, and Captain America’s disappearance. IGN spoke with showrunners Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon about how they approached the movie tie-ins, which weren’t nearly as show-altering as the tie-ins brought upon by 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
IGN: How did you decide to bring Captain America: Civil War into Agents of SHIELD?
Jed Whedon: First season, obviously, we had the most direct tie-in that will ever occur between a film and TV show. Since then it’s been a little bit more nuanced in terms of us trying to establish our own universe but still living within the universe that all the movies have also been. Knowing that Civil War was coming, some of the themes and some of the issues that would be dealt with in that film, we a little bit built our season to deal with sort of the same ideas. We introduced Inhumans, and now they’re a little bit more ubiquitous. They’re out there, so that raises concerns and questions in the public about how to deal with people who are different.
It’s a common metaphor that’s used in this situation, but we think it applies very well to our show. So thematically that’s how we tied in, and then in terms of the events, the Sokovia Accords perfectly led us into what we wanted to deal with at the end of the season and into next season, which is, “How do you deal with a war with powered people at that level, a government level?” So we wanted to feel the ripple and have it have an emotional impact, but mostly just complicate things for our peeps.
The Sokovia Accords is the agreement between some of the Avengers (Team Iron Man) and the United Nations, putting The Avengers under the direction of the United Nations, and requiring all people with powers to register with the government. This agreement was heavily referenced in last night’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the government sought the registration of the Inhumans.
IGN: Obviously bringing Talbot in in the way you did had a direct ripple effect from the Sokovia Accords. Are we going to see any more direct Sokovia Accords aftermath on the show, or will Talbot deal with things in his own way?
Whedon: You know, we still have our antagonist that we’re facing off with, but I think it will make our world more complicated, and moving forward we’ll sort of change things for our team in a pretty significant way.
While Clark Gregg said that there would be no spoilers for Civil War in last night’s episode, they definitely referenced the death of Peggy Carter. The showrunners said that this was necessary, even if it spoils a part of the movie for some people.
IGN: The death of Peggy Carter is in Civil War, but there are people who might not see that movie and will learn about her death through your show. Why did that feel like an important detail to include in this story and have Coulson react to it?
Whedon: Well, he’s SHIELD through and through, and she is one of the founders. And not only is he SHIELD through and though, but he’s Team Cap. He’s a pretty big fanboy.
Maurissa Tancharoen: I mean, it’s a very significant event to our world, to SHIELD, and our characters. We absolutely had to put it in the show.
From the beginning, Coulson has been a fan of Captain America. It was his adoration of Cap that was used to unite the Avengers against Loki after his supposed death. But would Coulson still be on Team Cap after the developments in Civil War?
Tancharoen: It’s interesting. Maybe the Coulson of old would have instantly sided with Captain America, but now given the things that he’s been through and what he has witnessed and having Inhumans on his team, I think he would be fairly conflicted about it.
One sentiment that seemed to ring true last night was the naiveté of the Sokovia Accords making any difference as presented by the newest Inhuman on the team, Yo-Yo. When asked if this was something they truly wanted to convey on the show, Whedon said it was meant to be more of a fun argument.
IGN: I like the moment in the episode when Yo-Yo says that the whole idea of the Sokovia Accords is very naive. Is that a sentiment you wanted to convey?
Whedon: Well, it’s a fun argument for us. The argument of what to do with these people has always been an easy argument to write, because one side of it is sort of equal rights, everybody should be treated fairly. The other is gun control, you know, not everybody should have access to something that is deadly. So both sides of the argument are pretty compelling. I think that, in terms of our team, they have things they need to do. They can’t have their hands tied. Now, in terms of the world as a whole, I don’t know where they would fall in that argument. But right now they can’t deal with any red tape because they’re in a race to save the world.
Of course, as great as it was to see the series tie into Captain America: Civil War by introducing the need to register the Inhumans, there’s was still plenty more that occurred during last night’s episode. A former villain came together with S.H.I.E.L.D. to help bring Daisy (Chloe Bennet) home only to be killed off shortly after. It was a big moment, one that is sure to bring about various emotions from fans of the show – anger, frustration, sadness. However, going by what Whedon says below, it’s entirely possible that while Lash is technically dead, he isn’t done on the show just yet.
IGN: Moving away from the Civil War stuff, you guys killed Lash in this episode, which was a nice, emotional moment, but not the death you guys have been hyping with “Fallen Agent.” Why it was time to kill Lash?
Whedon: Well, we can’t say too much about what’s coming, but in terms of Lash, you know, he says in the first episode, he says, “I am the cure,” and we strongly felt that he in some way was aware of the dangers that Hive possessed, so it was logical that he would be sent there as sort of the [way] to kill Hive, and we like the turn that in fact it’s something a little bit more emotional — and it’s not a violent act, it’s actually an act of a heroic savior saving this.
Tancharoen: I think within the Inhumans we hit the theme of destiny and purpose a lot. So it only made sense to us to reveal what Lash’s true purpose was. Unfortunately, it comes at a sacrifice. And the ripple effect that will have emotionally is something that you will see.
And as we know, Lash isn’t the only character set to die leading up to the show’s season three finale. Ever since the series came back for the second half of the season, we’ve been teased about an upcoming character death. What can the showrunners say about this?
Whedon: All we can say is that it will have an impact. We cannot tease the circumstances or who it is or why she dies — oops!
Tancharoen: Oh, s–t! Come on! [laughs]
Whedon: No, but obviously we don’t want to reveal any of that. But it will have impact — hopefully, for the audience. [laughs] But definitely for our show.
Are they revealing that a woman will be dying in the finale? It’s hard to tell how serious that “slip” was. However, IGN recently shared some art for the finale episode which only included active S.H.I.E.L.D. members, and given that it was based off an iconic cover for an issue that would see the death of Gwen Stacy, fans began to speculate that assuming that it’d be none other than Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) that’d be killed off in the season three finale. While we’ll finally know next week which character will meet their end on the show, the showrunners did tease the epic final battle between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hive that’s still to come.
IGN: What can you tease of this big battle it seems you guys are building up to between SHIELD and Hive? It’s interesting that he’s not one of the faces of potential dead characters in the “Fallen Agent” art that was released.
Whedon: Well, we can’t tease much. One thing we can say is that we think that we’ve seen how unbeatable he is. We’ve hit him with missiles, we’ve hit him with bullets, and we like that about Hive, that he’s the kind of villain where when he walks into the room you just run away. So I think that what we’ll see in the finale is, how do you even go at him? How do you even try to beat him? Is there a solution to that, or do we have to give up? Do we have to take risks that we wouldn’t normally take? I think that’s the most compelling thing for us about Hive. That and the way Brett Dalton plays him, which we couldn’t be bigger fans of. But yeah, right now he’s pretty indestructible. So we’ll see how they tackle that problem.
Of course, this begs the question of how they’ll successfully go about beating Hive. They’ve already shown that bullets don’t hurt him, and even Lash couldn’t kill him in last night’s episode, so what will it be that finally does the job?
IGN: With Lash, you opened up the question of whether there’s an Inhuman out there who’s purpose is to defeat Hive. Might there be a person out there whose actually is meant for that?
Whedon: That’s true, that could be something. But we can’t say anything about it.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return next week with two episodes to end Season Three. What do you think about the Civil War tie-ins in last night’s episode? Do you feel any more confident in your guess as to who will die in the finale? Sound off in the comments!