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.

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By EdGross - 5/13/2014
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.
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75 Comments
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JoeMomma29 - 5/13/2014, 2:02 PM
What happened to the Spidey article?
Nubase - 5/13/2014, 2:02 PM
News of the day the reveal of the new batsuit!
Reasonnnn - 5/13/2014, 2:08 PM
cool beans.

COOL BEANS.

COOL BEANS!
AxeEffect - 5/13/2014, 2:08 PM
nice read!
Omarvls - 5/13/2014, 2:09 PM
Oh I almost forgot we have the finale to agents of shield
glorious day
TheAbaryMan369 - 5/13/2014, 2:11 PM
AND the finale of AGENTS OF SHIELD! This day is great. Too bad I missed all the news as it hit.
JillyMcBeam - 5/13/2014, 2:12 PM
AOS just doesn't seem to give me as many of those MAH GAWD moments that Arrow does.
Dunejedi - 5/13/2014, 2:13 PM
Nice interview, Ed.

Gonna be bummed after tonight! Waiting suuuuuuuucks!
ProfessorX - 5/13/2014, 2:17 PM
Apparently there are two huge cliffhangers at the end of tonight's episode. Can't wait!
blackandyellow - 5/13/2014, 2:26 PM
Solid work, Ed.
JusticePourTous - 5/13/2014, 2:26 PM
What a waste of an interview. Not one of those questions couldn't be answered by previous interviews or just common sense.

Can't wait for tonight's episode. Although I'm in the UK and got an exam tomorrow morning, so I won't be watching for another 12 hours at least.
The anticipation is killing me!
manofsteel1942 - 5/13/2014, 2:29 PM
Sweet..!!

Hat trick
GodzillaKart - 5/13/2014, 2:31 PM
Sweet. Looking forward to the finale.
TheSavorings - 5/13/2014, 2:32 PM
Meanwhile in DC land they've got like 4 shows coming that are not connected to the 9 movies coming out. Talk about confusing the mainstream audience! It's gonna be a mess! What happens when Green Arrow SHOULD be showing up to join the Justice League but can't because he's in a different universe? Don't even get me started on Flash! So they'll be 2 Flash's but they aren't the same? Huh?
JoeMomma29 - 5/13/2014, 2:44 PM
@ TheSavorings

How do you know that Arrow, Flash, and Constantine will not be included in the DCCU?

GliderMan - 5/13/2014, 2:44 PM
Just how the [frick] is there gonna be a season 2?
InfiniteMonkey - 5/13/2014, 2:59 PM
Lovely article Mr. Gross.

@JusticePourTous, Quite right mate.
We haven't learned anything new that we can't extrapolate from previous knowledge or encounter with the writers.

The interviewer must have been really drunk or just completely clueless as to what is really going on because the questions asked were from last year and a bit during and after Captain America. Nice piece of journalism there, completely unawares.
RetroFit - 5/13/2014, 3:05 PM
I call BS on them. There was no plan. Someone stepped in after the first 4 or 5 episodes aired and shifted things FOR them. There was absolutely zero reason to make the first 2 months so crappy regardless of what they had planned for the last half of the season.
TheAstoundingMan - 5/13/2014, 3:21 PM
@Retrofit

The Script for Cap 2 was completed long before the pilot of AoS. I find it more likely that they had an ending (it was probably part of their pitch), and were then forced to find ways to make the show interesting before the reveal. They didn't handle that very well, but I am glad that things are coming together now.
GliderMan - 5/13/2014, 3:52 PM
I second what RetroFit said
Ace101 - 5/13/2014, 4:25 PM
Thesavorings. Just look at smallvile and superman returns
patrat18 - 5/13/2014, 5:26 PM
JillyMcBeam - Agreed. It's mostly Meh to Ok for me.
antoineflemming - 5/13/2014, 5:43 PM
This episode is so painful to watch. The plot, the writing, the dialogue. It's just bad.
MercwithMouth - 5/13/2014, 6:25 PM
That was [frick]ing incredible! I'm still vibrating!
CrimsonFlash - 5/13/2014, 6:34 PM
I frankly think after the first four or five episodes Joss stepped in for his brother. The difference in quality between the first five eps and the rest of the season is incredible. Joss never had a boring start to a show before. He never had characters and dialog that were bad "because it was building to something". You can have a monster of the week show with long arks mixed in and have the weekly eps be good. Whatever the reason its good now and im happy it got a second season!
BlindJustice - 5/13/2014, 6:38 PM
That was an AWESOME episode! So psyched for next season now!
KWITTY - 5/13/2014, 6:43 PM
Samuel Jackson is boss
121 - 5/13/2014, 6:46 PM


0megaDaGod - 5/13/2014, 6:46 PM
AH! Great episode, but I didn't like how they did Garrett at the end there

Dat Fury cameo tho!
BlindJustice - 5/13/2014, 6:47 PM
Arrow would be 100 times better without the flashbacks. Hopefully the flashbacks catch up to season one soon.
0megaDaGod - 5/13/2014, 6:47 PM
@PeterDarker

Loved the return of Coulson's revenge. Definitely wanted more of it. Thought Garrett and Deathlok were gonna throw down. Perfect set up for season 2
0megaDaGod - 5/13/2014, 6:49 PM
Can't speak on season 2 but the moment Slade showed up in the flashbacks during season 1 was the moment Arrow went from decent to good
BlindJustice - 5/13/2014, 6:50 PM
I enjoyed the Fury scenes in tonight's episode. You can't really call it a cameo if he's in 3-4 scenes haha.
0megaDaGod - 5/13/2014, 6:52 PM
@Blindjustice

True. Didn't expect him to play such a big part. Such a wonderful treat that shit was
BlindJustice - 5/13/2014, 6:53 PM
@Omega - Yeah, but why do they feel the need to fill nearly half of every single episode with flashbacks? A few here and there are fine, but it's as if the writers run out of ideas and decide to cram them in as fillers. Just my opinion.
Grimfoe - 5/13/2014, 6:55 PM
That was a great episode. The season got better and better as the year went on.

Great show for my family. We all enjoyed it.

Can't wait until next year.
BlindJustice - 5/13/2014, 6:55 PM
@Omega - Definitely a treat! We need more of that from other solid comic book characters... I know it's expensive, but Joss should be able to pull some strings.
121 - 5/13/2014, 7:00 PM
@Omega

HELL yeah about Coulson's Revenge...and I really wanted to see Deathlok's hand to hand combat skills too but I thought Garrett's getting PEACED at the end was PRICELESS...lol

CaptShipwreck - 5/13/2014, 7:01 PM
I was teased with more Paxton .... Damn
ezio619 - 5/13/2014, 7:05 PM
i really wanna catch up on AOS,the last episode i saw was ep 11,i liked the show but im glad to hear it has greatly improved,i did read a recap ,i couldnt resist, for people saying marvel studios is kiddy and too disneyfied, they need to see Garrett taking out a dude's rib and stabbing him with it, the marvel studios films and tv shows are for everyone kind of like star wars and indiana jones, they have dark moments and dark themes but never lose the fun of comic books for me9though the netflix shows are gonna show a more gritty side of the MCU
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