This interview contains spoilers for the collection finale of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Almost precisely eight years in the past, the husband-and-wife writing companions Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen had been having a pitch assembly at a Brentwood sushi restaurant in Los Angeles with Jed’s celebrated older brother Joss and two Marvel Television executives. The Whedon-Tancharoen trio had already collaborated on the musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” (together with one other Whedon brother, Zack) and had written the short-lived Fox TV present “Dollhouse.”
Their newest thought was a TV present set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe about the fictional Marvel Comics company S.H.I.E.L.D. (the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), which is devoted to investigating the paranormal and supernatural. The price range for the proposed collection was to be a fraction of what’s spent on Marvel movies, however it could place one of the films’ characters at its heart: Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).
“We knew that our show would be character-focused, about getting to know these people, and slowly building a team that becomes a family,” mentioned Jed Whedon, who oversaw the present with Tancharoen and Jeffrey Bell. (The elder Whedon, credited as a creator, stayed centered on directing the “Avengers” movies.)
The ensuing collection, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” went on to have a profitable seven-season run on ABC, which ended Wednesday with a fancy two-hour collection finale. That didn’t appear particularly doubtless after its tough debut in 2013. Some critics needed flashier connections to Marvel cinema — the place was Iron Man? — and the present needed to function in the shadow of the films: The existence of magic couldn’t be acknowledged till it was first revealed by the 2016 movie “Doctor Strange” first; “life-model decoys,” a sort of android, weren’t permissible till an android character appeared in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
But about midway by means of its run, the present started reinventing itself, with characters ping-ponging by means of area, time and various realities. Once the writers freed themselves of the timeline and narrative restraints established by the films (and even ignored just a few), the collection began to soar.
“We could just make up our own stories,” mentioned Jed Whedon. “It was liberating.”
In the ultimate season, S.H.I.E.L.D. brokers hopped round totally different a long time, with a pit cease in the 1980s that offered pure pop-geek pleasure. (Agent Coulson as Max Headroom? Check.)
But the present by no means misplaced its emotional core: the relationship between Agents Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), who crossed the galaxy greater than as soon as to be collectively, solely to be repeatedly pulled aside. In the finale, they reunited, as Fitz helped the ragtag workforce save each S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Earth from a takeover by an alien android race.
In a telephone interview Monday, Tancharoen and Jed Whedon mentioned bringing “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” to a conclusion. These are edited excerpts from the dialog.
A pair of years in the past, you constructed the finish of Season 5 to function a collection finale in case the present was canceled. How did that have an effect on planning this collection finale?
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN It’s so unusual as a result of we really feel that we’ve mentioned goodbye to the present a quantity of occasions now. We tied everybody’s arcs up with a pleasant little bow again in Season 5.
JED WHEDON We needed this to be totally different, not one other goodbye. We landed on the feeling of nostalgia, a sense of shifting on as life adjustments round you. It’s not a way of loss. Lives change. Paths diverge. You have that sense of longing, nostalgia and reference to folks with whom you spent tons of time.
TANCHAROEN I used to be not solely working with my present household however with my precise household. My father was there from Day 1, working in transportation. My brother [Kevin Tancharoen] got here on and directed over a dozen episodes. I’ve numerous recollections the place my daughter is sitting on [the producer] Megan Thomas Bradner’s lap, I’m watching my husband speaking to my brother, establishing a shot, and my father is close by, at craft service. So a lot of our expertise bled into what we had been making an attempt to say. Jumping the characters forward a yr additionally amplifies the bittersweet feeling, as a result of it’s clear they’ve moved on. They’re settling into new lives.
WHEDON On the final day, we went over to see the final shot, and Chloe Bennet sat down with tears in her eyes. She joined the present [as Skye/Daisy/Quake] when she was 20 years previous, she grew up on it, and now it was ending. It was so bittersweet. There was a lump in our throats at each flip.
TANCHAROEN We had no thought we had been predicting the close to future with our social-distance ending, our digital Zoom name between the characters. Of course, we conceived of all that earlier than 2020. If we had been creating the final season proper now ——
WHEDON There could be a virus story line. It would have a distinct tone.
If you had been creating it now, would you’ve gotten expanded upon the sexism and racism of the 1930s and 1950s that the characters encounter once they time-travel to these a long time this season?
TANCHAROEN There would have been extra of a possibility to try this with Mack [Henry Simmons], clearly. But we had been capable of flip these points into metaphor and tackle them with time journey and have Deke [Jeff Ward], being a person out of time, touch upon how absurd the racial and social injustice is. Just him studying about white privilege was a enjoyable factor to play with.
When we first pitched the present, all of us needed it to mirror the world that we stay in and what it aspires to be — a world full of variety, the place women and men are on equal footing in terms of preventing the good battle. That’s been evident all through the collection, in entrance of the digital camera, behind the digital camera, and likewise in our storytelling. It was a present about hope and love, crammed with stunning, various faces.
Losing Iain De Caestecker to different productions meant he was absent for a lot of this season. How did you kind that out? Did you ever fear about protecting Fitz and Simmons aside an excessive amount of?
WHEDON As we had been ending Season 6, we knew we had been going to have little or no Fitz. So we kind of jumped in with time journey, realizing that we had been making a puzzle that might be very exhausting to unravel. For Fitz, one of the issues that justified it’s that for him, solely a second in time has handed. And we knew it could a enjoyable enhance of adrenaline for the manufacturing and the actors to have the ability to play in numerous time intervals and inform tales based mostly on S.H.I.E.L.D. historical past.
The drawback is that there are such a lot of particulars! And with time journey tales, unfastened ends can flip you right into a pretzel, your finest pals into enemies and the writers’ room right into a battle zone. [Laughs.] We had a pair of time journey consultants write diagrams so we may wrap our heads round it and make it in step with the M.C.U. and every thing we had executed in the previous. The brief reply is that we solved some of it.
Did the altered timelines in “S.H.I.E.L.D.” truly shift time sufficient to allow occasions in “Infinity War” and “Endgame”? Did the present in the end reconnect with the Marvel films in the finish? Some of the Time Stream is melting my brain.
TANCHAROEN Melting brains is what we do. I’m still confused a bit, too.
WHEDON Some of the stuff they did with time travel in “Endgame” indicated that there are other timelines where other adventures are occurring. We’re following the multi-verse rule. The only way that someone survives Thanos’s snap in the movies is go into the quantum realm, and we originally did plan to give that a mention — because we used the quantum realm to move between timelines — but it got cut for time.
TANCHAROEN It’s very clear that Fitz and Simmons now live a life that they want to live, retired and raising a daughter.
WHEDON With everyone else, they’re on a new journey, which allows the audience to fill in what they believe could happen next.
TANCHAROEN That iconic image at the end of Coulson, flying off into whatever lies ahead? I’m just going to cry. There are so many spinoffs that could happen because there’s Quake in space, with Sousa and Kora …
I assume Deke continues to use his knowledge of the future, singing songs in the ’80s before they’ve been written? We don’t see how he fares in his alternate timeline.
WHEDON There was talk of flashing to what he was doing, but that would have undercut the emotional development. He’s playing Madison Square Garden, singing “Money for Nothing,” but it’s a S.H.I.E.L.D. operation.
TANCHAROEN That would have our dream end credit sequence.
Any other wish-list items left unfulfilled? A musical episode, maybe, considering Jed writes music and Chloe Bennet used to be a pop singer?
TANCHAROEN Was that our secret wish of wishes? Yes. If there were a Season 8, our entire cast would jump at the chance, and all of them can dance.
WHEDON And Quake can control vibrations! We did get to check off a lot of other boxes on our wish list. This last season, we lined up a bunch of sharks every week and jumped over them.
Unlike with our agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this won’t be your last mission together, will it?
TANCHAROEN Not unless we get a divorce! [Laughs.] Which might be in line with the theme of 2020 — everything’s falling apart!
WHEDON We are writing new stuff.
Might there finally be a sequel to “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”? You dropped a few hints this season, such as Coulson’s reference to a certain henchmen when he said, “How does it make you feel when I say the word moist?” and calling a recent episode “Brand New Day.”
TANCHAROEN [Laughs] Wow!
WHEDON Catching all the little hints! We cannot confirm nor deny …
TANCHAROEN I feel like we should just release one of the songs.
WHEDON You know what? After this, we’ll make some calls.