Ghost Rider may be the star attraction of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Season 4, but he’s not the only new addition to the Agents of SHIELD cast. There’s also a brand new director of SHIELD, played by Jason O’Mara.
Compared to Ghost Rider, O’Mara’s new director seems mundane on the surface. Practically nothing was revealed about the character in the lead up to the Agents of SHIELD Season 4 premiere, but the second episode of the season, “Meet the New Boss,” revealed that the new director is more than he seems.
In “Meet the New Boss,” Agent Coulson greeted the new director as “Jeffrey,” revealing the director’s name for the first time. We also learned that the director is very concerned with SHIELD’s optics, and is also an Inhuman with superhuman strength and durability.
All of this taken together has us wondering if this new director is actually a character from Marvel Comics history, specifically Jeffrey Mace, the superhero called the Patriot and one of the elite few to carry the star-spangled shield as Captain America (the third Captain America, to be exact).
Created by writer Ray Gill and artist George Mandel, the Patriot is a golden age hero who first appeared in The Human Torch #4 in 1941, when Marvel Comics was still Timely Comics. Much of the Patriot’s career was retconned when the character was reintroduced as part of the modern Marvel Comics universe in 1976.
Jeffrey Mace was a reporter for The Daily Bugle who was inspired to become a superhero after seeing Captain America in action. Despite not having any superpowers, Mace put on a costume and became the Patriot. As the Patriot, Mace fought Nazi saboteurs and other threats on the home front during World War II. The Patriot was joined by a sidekick, Miss Patriot, and helped form a superhero team called the Liberty Legion.
After World War II, the Patriot continued his superhero career as part of the All-Winners Squad. With Steve Rogers suspended in ice, the hero who had been known as the Spirit of ‘76 became the second Captain America. When the second Captain America was killed foiling an assassination attempt on Sen. John F. Kennedy in 1946, Jeffrey Mace retired his Patriot persona to become the third Captain America, and continued in the role until he retired in 1949 (in reality, Marvel concocted this retcon story to account for Captain America’s adventures in the 1950s, when Steve Rogers was supposed to have still been suspended in ice). After retirement, Mace grew old, married fellow hero Golden Girl, and eventually died of cancer.
So what’s the case for the new director being Jeffrey Mace? Well, first and most obviously, there’s his name. There aren't that many prominent characters named Jeffrey in the Marvel Universe, and the Patriot is arguably the most well-known of all of them.
Second, when Marvel first announced that Jason O'Mara had been cast as the new director, they stated that he would be "playing a character whose Marvel roots go back to the 1940s." As noted, the Patriot made his first appearance in 1941, so he certainly fits the description.
Third, there’s the director’s preoccupation with optics and public relations. This may be Agents of SHIELD putting a modern twist on Jeffrey Mace’s career as a journalist. After all, journalism and public relations are pretty similar and often intertwined fields, and both are often taught as part of a mass media curriculum at schools.
Fourth, there's Jeffrey Mace’s time as Captain America in the Marvel Universe. In “Meet the New Boss,” Coulson and the new director have a conversation that alludes to Coulson originally wanting to appoint Captain America as the new director of SHIELD (a position which Steve Rogers has actually held in the Marvel Universe). However, Captain America went underground after the events of Captain America: Civil War, making that an impossibility. This whole conversation reveals, in a way, that the new director is stepping into Steve Rogers’ shoes, which may be Agents of SHIELD’s way of referencing Mace’s time as Captain America in the Marvel Comics Universe.
The part about the new director being an Inhuman is new and doesn’t match up with the Jeffrey Mace of the Marvel Comics Universe, who had no superpowers at all. This is most likely a decision driven by narrative, as SHIELD having an Inhuman serving as its director seems like the kind of thing that will become a major plot point as Agents of SHIELD Season 4 continues. It's worth noting that Director Jeffrey’s only powers appear to be strength and durability. While he didn’t have superpowers, the Jeffrey Mace of the Marvel Comics Universe was in peak physical shape, making this specific set of superpowers about the closest Director Jeffrey could have to match the Patriot’s own prowess.0comments
We’ll have to wait to see if Director Jeffrey is, in fact, Jeffrey Mace, but we think it's a solid theory and a nice comic book reference by Agents of SHIELD. If we’re lucky, maybe the director will be called upon to become something more symbolic, giving us a live-action version of the Patriot in costume.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.