S.H.I.E.L.D. EXCLUSIVE Interview with Maurissa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon

S.H.I.E.L.D. EXCLUSIVE Interview with Maurissa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon

Tonight, ABC airs the first season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and in this exclusive interview executive producers Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon reflect on the show's shift in tone following events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

The episode, "Beginning of the End," is officially described as follows: "Dark secrets are revealed as Coulson and his team put everything on the line to stop Garrett and the forces of Hydra."

You didn't REALLY think they would actually reveal anything, did you?

VOICES FROM KRYPTON
Last time we spoke — which was pre CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER — one of the things I said was that if felt like a light switch had been thrown on the show. You guys said it was a plan all along for the show to shift. Was it tough holding the brakes on it when you knew you were heading towards THAT moment when you knew it was going to be tying into the movie?
 
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN
It was definitely a challenge, but we also knew that we had this very unique opportunity that no other television show that was coming up. As soon as CAPTAIN AMERICA premiered, I think it’s fairly obvious that all of it was part of this big, cohesive plan. It was hard to stay quiet on a few things knowing that there was going to be this big giant reveal. We had to hide the “HYDRA ball” for the entire season, which we did with the Centipede project and the Clairvoyant and things like that. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, it sort of went crazy from that point on.
 
JED WHEDON
It was fun, even though we had to be patient and the audience had to be patient with getting there. It was fun to tell the stories of S.H.I.E.L.D. and what are our daily assignments were like.
 
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN
Just establishing the system before we revealed that it’s all going to be torn down.


 
VOICES FROM KRYPTON
I would imagine as writers it’s got to be exciting and terrifying to have essentially led into a $200 million movie and then out of a $200 million movie. People were being introduced to this giant concept of a big screen adventure with Captain America, then you guys are hit with the challenges of presenting thrills and excitement, and more or less keeping the story going, on a television budget.
 
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN
But we got to deal with that giant event on a very personal level — the emotional consequences of the big HYDRA reveal.
 
JED WHEDON
The disadvantage we have over the films is that they have bizillions of dollars and all the time in the world. At the same time, we DO have 22 episodes to tell our story, so we get to have those events hit us in the heart on a much more personal level. To tell the story of that infiltration in a way you wouldn’t have time for in a film, with our team actually turning inwards and looking at each other with suspicion. The only way we can try and live in the same world as these giant films, is to feature compelling characters and keep it very personal.  Initially they faced these external threats, but then the threat was amongst themselves.
 
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN
It was also a nice sort of tension to play someone like Skye as the outsider coming into the team. All of them were strangers to each other, and over the course of the season we sort of built their bond. Right when we felt that things were gelling, we tore it all apart. We revealed a wolf among them, which is the drama that has played out.


 
VOICES FROM KRYPTON
Has it been exciting to take these characters down more twisted paths where, much more than they had earlier in the season, they’re being impacted and genuinely changed by their experiences?
 
JED WHEDON
It’s a type of storytelling that people have gotten much more used to, because of cable and binge watching. It’s also super fun on our end. What you want to do with characters is apply pain to them and put them through their paces so that you really feel for them and you can relate to their troubles. The standalone format that at the end of every episode you sort of reset, makes it feel like the stakes aren’t that high because you know at the end of the day everything is going to be tied up in a bow. In the last group of episodes of the season we reached a point where that was NOT happening. At any moment something terrible could happen.
 
VOICES FROM KRYPTON
One post Captain America thing I was wondering about: why reveal the fact that Nick Fury is alive early on rather than letting it be a shock in the season finale?
 
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN
We knew that viewers of the movie would know that he was alive. We wanted everything to be directly linked to the information you learn from the film. Having insider knowledge on what happened to Fury was important for our team to have, because there’s been a lot of playing catch up with our team and what’s happening. That was just a piece of information that we wanted Coulson to have.


 
JED WHEDON
The poor guy’s had a rough year, and we had a delicate balance, especially in episode 17, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” of trying to deliver information to an audience that hadn’t seen the movie and be true to the ones who had. This is an example of us trying to make it fun and exciting on our TV show, but also not have half the audience know something our characters don’t. We wanted to get Coulson to a point where he could get ahead of things. He’s been behind the eight ball for so long, we wanted to make him proactive and give him more ammo towards the end.
 
VOICES FROM KRYPTON
Obviously this show has been connected to the Marvel universe all along, but now it’s REALLY connected in a very pronounced way. As you go into season two, is that something you still want to do? To grab on to different aspects of the Marvel universe and tie it into the show?
 
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN
Absolutely.
 
JED WHEDON
We don’t want to turn into an Easter Egg farm; we still want to exist on our own and be our own property. Just as Iron Man exists separate from Thor but they can live in The Avengers together…
 
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN
Feople who read the comics, people who watch the show, and people who see the movies, it will be a more rich experience for them, but it won’t be exclusive to them.


 
VOICES FROM KRYPTON
So it’s exciting to be able to fully embrace the Marvel Universe.
 
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN
Sure.
 
JED WHEDON
Yeah.
 
VOICES FROM KRYPTON
And THAT, I realize, was a dopey observation on my part.
 
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN
Not at all. It’s funny, because as much as we’d like to claim to be unbridled and carefree, there are still many restrictions. This IS Marvel.
 
JED WHEDON
Existing in the same universe gives you these great opportunities, but it’s also hyper-complicated [laughs].
 
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN
It’s like a big puzzle that every part has to fit in to just so. There are certain things we can’t mention at this point and can’t touch at this point, as well as things that we can. When we CAN, it’s very exciting. But there are rules, a structure and an overall outline of how we lay out the universe over time.
Posted By:
EdGross
Member Since 11/24/2008
Filed Under "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." 5/13/2014 Source: Voices From Krypton
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