Brett Dalton‘s character on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., started off as a normal human. He didn’t have bulletproof skin, super-human strength, or enhanced abilities. He hadn’t been resurrected through some mysterious process involving alien transfusions. He wasn’t born with inhuman genealogy that would provide him with a mystical transformation when he encountered terrigen. He was just a human Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D with a rough past and treasonous secrets.
As Grant Ward, Dalton created a character that people loved to hate. Ward’s betrayal was one of the biggest twists in MCU history, a cut so deep that Agent Coulson personally ended the character’s life, in a heart-breaking moment on another planet. Yet somehow, we got more of Dalton, as Hive took over his body and became the villain of season three. His defeat appeared to be the actual end of Dalton on SHIELD, with no chance of resurrecting his physical body, until feason four took us to the Framework – a land where everybody got a second chance (except Lincoln, who died in the process of killing off Hive).
The Grant Ward that everybody met in the Framework was refreshingly enjoyable. Even the long-time Ward haters on the MCU Exchange Podcast were won over by his selfless patriotism. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has done what had previously seemed impossible: They made some fans want more of Grant Ward. And with the revelation that the Darkhold could bring characters into a mortal form, there was a sliver of hope that Grant Ward would, yet again, be able to be brought back to life. However, always one to toy with our emotions, showrunner Jed Whedon has killed those dreams.
Executive producer Jed Whedon tells Entertainment Weekly that they considered bringing him back, along with a few other past characters that could return via the Framework, but “scheduling, or personal issues, or other shows that take our people away” meant that idea just didn’t pan out. Fellow executive producer Jeff Bell adds, “Aida rebuilt her body out of dark stuff from a dark, terrible universe, so she wasn’t exactly human. There was a Darkhold filter through which she came, so it seemed that anyone who came back that way was not, in fact, really themselves, but some corrupted version of themselves.“
Scheduling issues, or as Clark Gregg once called them, “Corporate Stuff,” has been to blame for killing many of fan’s dreams in the MCU. It’s supposedly why Spider-Man and Daredevil will not get to swing through New York City together. It’s why Agent Coulson will not be trying to recruit Luke Cage to S.H.I.E.L.D. It could even be blamed for why Fox still owns rights for The Fantastic Four. Now, in a moment of sadness (or glee, you monsters), we can add the death of Grant Ward, in all of his human forms, to this list.
But, for a ray of hope on a bleak world, keep in mind that we did get a picture of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents hanging out with The Defenders, yesterday. We live in a world in which anything is possible, and perhaps, if we all put positive energy into the world, scheduling and personal issues can be overcome, and Grant Ward can be revived, yet again. However, this is not an invitation for those of you that would like to never see the character again (I’m looking at you, Adam, on the MCU Exchange Podcast), to put negative energy into the world in order to keep it from happening.
This is where I would try to make a bunch of “Ward” puns, because that’s one of the best things about discussing Dalton’s time in the MCU. However, this news of his final departure from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a serious blow to many fans (if not Adam) and some of you may not be ready to move forward int hat way, yet. Share your grief, sorrow, or excitement (you monsters) in the comments. We can, and will, get through this horrific (or exciting, you monsters) news, together.
(If you need more discussion on this topic, be sure to subscribe to the MCU Exchange Podcast, as it will be one of the main topics of discussion in our next episode.)