Loeb, Bell & Gregg Navigate the Future of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

After the events of Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the world of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” has changed dramatically.

When fans tune-in to an all-new episode tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC they’ll begin to see just how the film will impact Coulson and his team, but before that Executive Producers Jeffrey Bell and Jeph Loeb, along with star Clark Gregg, gave us a hint of what we can expect…beginning with just what Coulson’s team will have to call themselves!

“Well the big question of course is, now are they the Agents of Nothing?” remarks Loeb. “As we know that’s not the name of our show. So how do you survive in a world where it doesn’t matter who you are, and how does that impact our team?”

The creators behind the series knew going into the first season that events from “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” would necessarily have a huge impact on their series, and that foreknowledge allowed them to build towards this story in a significant way.

“When we first sat down with [Executive Producers] Joss [Whedon], Jed [Whedon], Maurissa [Tancharoen] and Jeff, we had a pretty good idea of where we wanted to go,” recalls Loeb. “[Then] we went over and had an all-day session with Marvel Studios and with Kevin Feige, and he turned over the cards and said ‘you understand that in the middle of your season, a major thing is going to happen’–or as we like to refer to it, the H word–and our reaction to that was ‘wow, that’s super cool.’ We can use that to do something that is completely unprecedented in the history of television, where a show that is actively on the air is directly affected by the actions of a giant tentpole movie.”

Bell echoes that sentiment, adding that the unprecedented nature of this story brought with it “both pressure and opportunity” to create a unique storytelling experience.

“The fact that we knew about this since the beginning gave us a lot of time to plan and to work with it,” adds Bell. “So we feel like we were building to this from the beginning and we talked about it over the course of the season. We talked about a lot of different ways to do [this story], and we came up with what we think will be a super satisfying, super cool way.”

Even more than that, Bell feels the connective nature of these stories brings everything full circle in a way back to the original comics.

“The idea to tie into the movies, which tie into the comics, and now we’re doing these one shot posters [by comic artists] to go [with] our last [six] episodes, [really ties] them back together. I think the amazing thing that Marvel does is keep this whole giant universe alive with the left hand always knowing what the right hand is doing.”

Even before Coulson and his team have to confront the revelation of Hydra’s existence within S.H.I.E.L.D., they’ll have to deal with some of their own trust issues.

“As we tee up in [episode] 16, we already have three groups of the team that don’t trust each other,” elaborates Bell. “You know Coulson and Skye have been keeping a secret, Fitz and Simmons have been keeping a secret, May has been keeping a secret. So there’s already a lot of distrust, so in a world of spies where your word is sort of all you have, I think there’s great opportunity for everybody questioning everybody going forward not just outside our team, but within [as well].”

“The remainder of the season does have one big theme, and that’s who can you trust?” adds Loeb. “And that will have our team members bond in ways that maybe they couldn’t have before, and by the same token hopefully [bring] some surprises in terms of not just our characters but other characters that will be coming onto the show for this last big set.”

For Coulson, who has always believed strongly in S.H.I.E.L.D. and its purpose in the world, the revelation of Hydra’s presence in the organization changes everything.

“I think he has a mixed reaction,” relates Clark Gregg. “[Coulson’s] journey so far has been [about] an erosion of trust that the company man has with his own company, as he discovers that [with] really basic stuff like what he’s doing still alive, he hasn’t really been told the truth. It’s one thing to be the keeper of secrets, but then to find out that other people are keeping them from you puts the shoe on the other foot. I think he’s willing to put up with a certain amount because he believes in what S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for, but when it doesn’t seem like the S.H.I.E.L.D. that he believed in is the one that he’s living in, he’s questioning a lot.

So when it becomes clear that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by Hydra, on the one hand it explains a lot [about Coulson’s recent doubts]. In a way [it] gives him back a little bit of his belief that S.H.I.E.L.D. itself [and] the idea behind it wasn’t necessarily corrupt, but that the organization had been infiltrated. That said, [then] there is no more S.H.I.E.L.D. in a way.”

Amongst his team, Coulson will have to grapple with many of the trust issues Loeb and Bell also described, something that will make the team leader question quite a bit.

“Coulson does believe there are people like May and certainly–and perhaps ironically–Skye, that he trusts,” concludes Gregg. “So to find out that May has been keeping secrets and has her secret phone has really shaken him. I think if there was anybody he would have bet against [making] that kind of betrayal, it would’ve been her. I don’t know if anything’s sacred. I think everything he believed in is up for grabs. It’s the last step in the erosion of his belief in S.H.I.E.L.D. and Coulson as a company man.”

Don’t miss all-new episodes of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” every Tuesday with no repeats on ABC, leading up to the explosive season finale on May 13!