This week's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. winter finale is a must see not only for fans of the show, but of the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe as well. Trust us.
With that out of the way, ComicBook.com had an opportunity to chat with Director Coulson himself, Clark Gregg, about his thoughts on the season so far, what fans can expect from the finale, and what to look forward to when it's all said an done. We here at ComicBook.com have done a fair amount of speculation on what to expect from the episode, so it was great to sit down with Clark and see what we could suss out and what he's looking forward to.
Before we get started, last time we talked was at New York Comic Con and you were just itching to get out onto the show floor to fill some gaps in your Warlock collection. Did you have any luck?
Oh man, I wish I could have made it out. It was just too crazy you know? But it’s fine, because a friend of mine gifted me a luchador mask for the next convention circuit. I’m excited to give it a go.
You have been the show's biggest cheerleader all along. Has it been gratifying to see critics and fans really come around this season?
Deeply. DEEPLY. We’ve come a long way since we started and to see fans jump on board for the ride and stay with us is immensely touching. Look, we weren’t perfect coming out of the gate. I feel super protective of that family over there. I really had hoped we’d get the time to see if we can make what we were doing start to hum. To have other people get behind it and enjoy it as much as I do is SUPER gratifying.
You’ve also been very protective of the story. Do you get a kick out of seeing all the speculation about characters and major events that happen in the show?
I do. It’s REALLY fun. There’s a certain amount that I figure out when I read the scripts. Things like, “Well, that guy HAS to be Kree. I mean why would a Skull be blue!?” To be honest, I read that stuff and am like “Oh! That's probably right!” Then, I go to the writers and ask them about it and see if they get pale.
I make sure they keep me in the dark to a certain extent. I love watching the theories and its fun to be a part of something that has such deep canon. There are a few theories out there that are pretty plausible. But seeing all that rich lore that I grew up with, getting brought to life, thats a little bit different, but close enough to still have the same impact. It looks like a lot of fans are feeling the same way.
Now with the mid-season finale airing tomorrow, do you get any free time or is it right back to the grindstone to finish out the season?
Zero. I mean we have our holiday break that we get every year. The season is about 13 episodes before Christmas break.Then we get a few weeks off, and its right back at it.
I love what they did schedule wise though this time around, and its really smart. I think there were too many gaps last season but having us end, then having Agent Carter run, and then we come back is really going to be gratifying for fans. It’s meant that the visual effects team has a lot of long nights to finish episodes before they air. We’re all super grateful for the effort that the team puts in and hopefully with this break it’ll give them some room.
If given the chance, now that you might have a tiny bit of free time before you start back up again, want to direct an episode?
In the abstract, it would be a TON of fun. As someone who just directed two, mostly lo-fi indie movies, I’m very interested in it that it would be a crash course in Marvel. It’s only in the abstract because, just doing my job is so incredibly demanding. Between the prep,the post and deliver an episode I’m really proud of, Coulson would need to be in a slab of carbonite for an episode or two.
And we know what kind of crossover that would mean.
You’ve had quite a few guest stars this season. How much fun have you had bringing in new blood into the mix?
I’ve been SUPER impressed with the folks they’ve brought in. It’s funny because the people we have like B.J. Britt, and Bill Paxton who folks were introduced to last year, have become such a part of our ensemble - even when they’re bad guys! Take a guy like Kyle MacLachlan, who’s been KILLING it this season, he’s such a rich and important part of what we’re doing now. The same is true of the amazing trio of Henry Simmons, Adrianne Palicki, & Nick Blood.
It’s an amazing thing with what the writers have done this season. They’ve been able to introduce three new characters to the team and give them clear differences and roles. They’re able to do all this while further pushing the existing characters and continuing to develop them and show why they’re different as well.
It’s made my life a little bit easier because it’s made my schedule more of a five days a week routine. I love that they’re exploring the other characters more and that fans are invested. I couldn’t be more thrilled that fans have taken to Skye’s mystery in the way that they’ve had. It’s been one we have been sitting on for a while now and it’s great to see her take the spotlight like that.
So, I love it all. It’s a scary show because there are a lot of dangerous stuff going on. We’re always scared to get the script because who knows who will turn out to be a Hydra agent next. Or something even worse!
How far ahead do they keep you aware of what’s coming up in the show then? Did you guys know from the get-go what was happening tomorrow or was that a Captain America: Winter Soldier level of surprise?
It’s blended. There are things I suspect are going on, just because of my old school familiarity with the comics. But when I smell something coming, I go and read. I quickly get some of the collections that I hadn’t read yet and try to figure it out. Anybody who is a Marvel fan is certainly reading Civil War these days.
Just as I suspect someone watching the show is probably reading some other stuff.
And that's all I’m going to say.
The one or two times I've known something early, it’s made it harder. I don’t like knowing things that other people don’t know, or even things that Coulson doesn’t know.
Does not knowing make it easier to feel genuinely surprised when it comes time to arrive on set?
It really does. Our lives run very close parallels to the characters on the show that whenever we learn something about who the next traitor is, or who will be hurt coming up, that those idea and reveals take a toll on us. But I think in the end makes for a better performance.
Heading into the second half of the season, will the spy-fiction tone of the show be left behind and head more into the land of super heroics?
I don’t think the core nature of the show will ever change from being “We’re the barrier between the world and a much weirder world.” That's a sentence that's being said by someone who may be gifted in terms of their abilities, but if they get hit by a bullet they’re done.
If they get stabbed by an Asgardian scepter, essentially they’re dead.
One time, they brought a guy back.
It sounds like it was very painful and a lot of lying happened, but I think generally, its about the people who are the human face of the world. The vulnerable people who are dealing in a world, post-Avengers.
In the Marvel Universe, people are aware of all the things that have happened and want a piece of that action. As on our show, it turns out that there were people here before from another world, and they may have left something here that transforms people into something else.
That’s going to keep Coulson busy for a while.
I wouldn’t say that the essential nature of the show will change. There will be no agents jumping from The Bus, or anyone flying off in all different directions without planes.
Will we see more characters with super powers in the second half of the season? We started the season seeing characters like Absorbing Man show up, and a few more from the first season, but will the trend continue?
My only disclaimer is, I’ve been given the script to the episode that I start on Tuesday. Beyond that I haven’t seen any other script.
My weary suspicion is, it’s good they haven’t been written yet.
I can say as someone who has read the scripts, and talk to the episodes we’ve seen up till last Tuesday, based on that, it seems like it’s hard to imagine that the second half of the season will have LESS people with abilities.
It seems like we’ve tied up a bunch of mysteries from the first season and even a few from this season. Does tomorrows episode lay a bunch of groundwork for all new mysteries?
There was a hint laid out just this past Tuesday. I don’t know anything about this beyond what I’ve noticed, but there are folks on the team who are whispering to each other about stuff.
That's…a problem. I never like it when there are secrets being kept within the team.
Last week, Stephen Amell from "Arrow" mentioned he’d love to do a crossover with "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Granted, it's something we might not see in our lifetime, but would you want to share a screen with him?
I was really flattered to read that. He’s a fantastic dude and that show is so great! Are you kidding me? I’d love to have a scene with him.
We shot a scene just recently that was around the corner from the original Batcave! I want to meet Alfred! I suspect that won’t happen.
I have so many fantasies that involve so many crossovers, not only with the DC Universe, but a galaxy far far away!
Magneto! Spidey! I got to work with Spidey in animated form. I have my hopes.
I hope the lawyers get together like the World Security Council and suddenly peace on Earth will reign.
Last question. Will we see Lola?
We’re in the shadows this season. Of the many things I love about Lola, she’s pretty ostentatious.
She’s a fine lady, dressed in bright red, with serious vintage curves, which makes her incredibly attractive to me. But unless she gets a fresh coat of paint, or some stealth technology, I don’t think we’ll see more of her.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Mid-Season Finale airs tomorrow @ 9pm ET on ABC.