Q&A With Jeph Loeb – Blowing Up Shield, Comic Book Characters on TV, and Expecting the Unexpected
Agents of Shield was at Paleyfest New York, and The Geekiary caught up with Jeph Loeb at a Q&A. Loeb is the Executive Producer for Agents of Shield and the forthcoming Agent Carter, as well as being the head of Marvel Television. Find out what he has to say about building Shield and then breaking it apart, about comic book properties on television, potential crossovers, and more.
Jeph Loeb: The nice part about it is this was the plan. We knew where we were going from the very beginning. As we often talk about with our showrunners Jed Whedon and Jeffrey Bell and Maurissa Tancharoen…it’s really important to us that we maintain the momentum and the urgency of the show. And certainly since the time of the shift — last season when we started we were this giant organization and as Jeff Bell likes to say, it’s hard to root for the NSA, a company that can go anywhere, do anything, supersede any law enforcement agency, and so part of the challenge was getting it to a place where it was all blown up. And absolutely having that happen in a major motion picture and then directly affecting the mythology of our show was something that nobody had ever done before. What it enabled us then to do was now we get to start new, and now that Coulson has become Director Coulson and has to learn all of the reasons why Nick Fury was the way that he is, that sometimes keeping secrets isn’t such a bad idea. And seeing how that works and how it’s going to affect one of our characters. Obviously just in the first episode, you saw we lost Lucy Lawless right out of the gate, sort of tells you that more than anything what we want the show to be is where people at the end of the hour go “wow, I didn’t expect that.” And that would be the kind of thing that we do and hope that people are going to be able to come back every single week expecting the unexpected.
Dot: How are things looking right now for crossover? You had Peggy Carter showing up on Agents of Shield, now Daredevil is starting up – will there be crossovers between the Marvel TV universes?
JL: Let’s put it this way, we don’t do anything just to do it. What we like to do is be able to find out how things can work best in terms of what are…what the needs of the story are, and so having somebody walk on just for the sake of walking on doesn’t make a lot of sense. Could it be possible? Absolutely. It’s all connected. We obviously are very connected to the movie universe, we want to feel like the television universe has the same kind of connectivity. And so that’s why you’ll see people come on that are from the movie universe and as time goes by we’ll see what happens.
Dot: Comic book properties seem to be on the rise on television right now, you’ve had great success with Agents of Shield, do you think there’s something in particular about television that lends itself to that – because comic books are serial, you can do a long slow burn of a story?
JL: It’s a combination of things. First of all, we never really see our shows as superhero shows. We see them more as stories about the people that are in those shows. And that’s just who Marvel is. We’re much more invested in who Tony Stark is, than a man in an iron suit. The fact that Steve Rogers is a character who his entire life couldn’t stand anyone being bullied and then finally gets a chance to clear that up. When you live in that world and you’ve got Agent Coulson, who’s a man that believed in this company in a way that nobody ever had before, and then have him have to then rebuild it, and learn the reasons for that, that’s the thing we’re really invested in. In terms of the shows themselves, part of the thing that is very exciting, is that you can on television get invested in character, you can on…a week to week basis, just like the comics, have those kinds of ongoing, not only just cliffhangers, but movement and arcs within your characters. The movies are astonishing. But you’ve got two hours to tell a story and hope they wrap it all up. We have a different challenge which is we have 22 hours that we’re going to have to do which is incredibly challenging physically and intellectually in order to try to be able to tell that many stories…
Dot: Any particular characters on your wish list to bring into the Marvel TV universe?
JL: Right now we’re just so happy with who we have, this Tuesday night we get to bring in Bobbi Morse, who is a giant character for us to join the team, but really when you see how we do it, it’s done in a way where she’s feels like she’s…always been part of the team. Or not. And that’ll be the thing for people to decide as they get to know her. I think Adrianne Palicki joining our cast is a big big catch for us, she’s got her own geek cred which we always love, and towards that end, we’ll see what happens.
Dot: Thank you!
Agents of Shield airs Tuesday 9/8c on ABC. Have thoughts about the new season of Shield or comic book-based TV series? Excited about the introduction of Bobbi Morse onto Agents of Shield? Let us know in the comments.
Author: Dot R
Dot has been bouncing around various fandoms for many years now writing essays, episode reviews, commentary, and reporting news and conducting interviews, among other things. Along with being a DC, Star Wars, and Supernatural fangirl, Marvel has become one of her main obsessions, along with the Marvel and DC television universes and the MCU. She’s also a fan of science fiction television shows, everything from Farscape to Killjoys to 12 Monkeys. Currently Fangirl at Large covering numerous geek culture related topics, convention news, casting spoilers, show news, and interviews.
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