It's Marvel TV time at Comic-Con, with an hour-long panel that promises to feature Jeph Loeb plus still-unnamed castmembers from both “Marvel's Agents of SHIELD” and “Marvel's Agent Carter.” The question is, will Marvel stop with just the two ABC dramas, or will they start trying to build excitement for the four upcoming Netflix series by, say, bringing in “Daredevil” stars Charlie Cox and Deborah Ann Woll for surprise appearances? (Woll has a long and impressive history of Comic-Con cosplay, including stints as Hit Girl and Axe Cop, so I wouldn't be shocked in the least if she came dressed as Elektra – or Daredevil, for that matter.) And will Loeb be as bombastic as in his usual interviews, or will he acknowledge how rough so much of “Agents of SHIELD” season 1 was before “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” finally gave the show direction?
I'll be live-blogging all the action, updating as frequently as my typing fingers and the Ballroom 20 wi-fi will allow.
3:02 p.m.: The Marvel logo pops up on the monitors, followed by what sounds like some of Bear McCreary's “Agents of SHIELD” score. There's a large table on the stage, for what it's worth, but it might just be to accommodate the “SHIELD” actors plus Hayley Atwell.
3:04 p.m.: After a brief reversion to the Comic-Con logo, the Marvel logo and the McCreary music is back, and Jeph Loeb gets a loud ovation as he takes the podium. The crowd drowns him out with applause as he mentions the “Agents of SHIELD” title. He promises footage that no one will get to see. “As we always do every year, thank you,” he adds. “It is amazing.”
3:07 p.m.: Loeb brings up last year's “SHIELD” screening and panel, and says over the course of the first season, “We learned 'don't trust anyone.'” He asks if there are fans of SHIELD (not making clear the show or the organization), and there's applause. Now are there any fans of Hydra? Some applause, and a lot of boos. This was all inspired by a bet with a castmember, and Loeb unbuttons his shirt to reveal a Hydra t-shirt underneath.
3:09 p.m.: Loeb reminds fans that “Agents of SHIELD” season 2 debuts on September 23 at 9 p.m., then segues into discussion of “Agent Carter.” He asks if there any “Reaper” or “Resurrection” fans in the audience, and brings out Tara Butters and Michelle Fazekas, who worked on those shows and will be running “Agent Carter.”
3:10 p.m.: Now it's time for “Captain America” movie screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who wrote the “Agent Carter” pilot, plus Marvel executive Lou D'Esposito, who shepherded the “Agent Carter: One-Shot” DVD bonus feature that led to the TV series. But the biggest applause is reserved for Hayley Atwell, who smiles at the large crowd.
3:12 p.m.: How did Fazekas and Butters get involved with Marvel? They had finished up “Resurrection” season 1, and ABC asked them to take on “Agent Carter.” Fazekas calls it “A dream come true.”
3:13 p.m.: How do Markus and McFeely feel about seeing Peggy Carter living on in a TV show? Markus jokes that “We keep trying to kill her, and she won't die.” They were sad they could only bring a very old version of Peggy back for “Winter Soldier,” so they're excited to be able to go back and mine her earlier career. McFeely notes that in the full “Agent Carter” pilot, she will have equaled her previous screen time in the Marvel universe.
3:15 p.m.: D'Esposito recalls Atwell coming in for casting on “Captain America,” and being unable to stop smiling during the audition until she knew she had the part. Atwell, meanwhile, had to be locked in a room in order to read the pilot script. “The exciting thing with Peggy is I don't think we've even touched the size of the adventures she's going to have,” she says. “There's still so much that's unexplored.”
3:16 p.m.: “Agent Carter” hasn't started shooting yet. It will take place in 1946, post-WWII, with Peggy trying to pick up the pieces of her life. Loeb notes that there will be things happening in SHIELD present-day that they can show the origins of in Peggy's time.
3:17 p.m.: We see some footage, but it's a mix of historical footage, clips from “Captain America” and the Peggy Carter one-shot, plus fake newspaper headlines suggesting Howard Stark will be investigated for treason.
3:18 p.m.: Loeb calls the project a true partnership between Marvel Television and Marvel Studios. D'Esposito will direct the first episode and says the Russo brothers (who did “Winter Soldier”) will direct the second and third episodes. He also just got off the phone with “First Avenger” director Joe Johnston, and they are hoping to get him to direct episode 4.
3:20 p.m.: Time for a few audience questions, starting with a Peggy Carter cosplayer who was impressed with how well Peggy handles herself as a soldier. Atwell praises the show's technical advisors and is looking forward to exploring Peggy's military background in the future.
3:21 p.m.: Another Peggy Carter cosplayer wonders if Dominic Cooper will appear on the show. Loeb says they will try to get him as Howard Stark. And now a third Peggy cosplayer asks about other strong female characters appearing. Fazekas says a lot of the tension of the show is about Peggy trying to work in a man's world, but “there are other women of power – both good and bad – that we hope to see.”
3:22 p.m.: A female Winter Soldier cosplayer asks Atwell about playing a strong female character in a superhero world full of male heroes. “It's a rare privilege,” says Atwell, also noting how unusual it is for a British actress like hers to be part of this huge American endeavor. “It's a huge bonus to be able to play someone who, hopefully, young women will look up to as well.”
3:23 p.m.: That seems to be it for the “Agent Carter” crew, who walk off to a big round of applause.
3:26 p.m.: Loeb pivots into discussing “Agents of SHIELD” and introduces a season 1 highlight reel. Lots of talk about Skye's mysterious origins, Coulson's mysterious resurrection, Tahiti, etc., before shifting into the Hydra arc that aired post-“Winter Soldier.” Melinda May's “No, but I'm ready to kick some ass” line gets by far the most vocal response from the crowd.
3:30 p.m.: Loeb brings out producers Jeffrey Bell, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, plus Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker, Chloe Bennet, Ming-Na Wen (wearing a sleeveless Marvel t-shirt and flexing her muscles for the crowd), a bearded Brett Dalton (showing off a Hydra t-shirt and getting a healthy amount of good-natured boos), and – with Loeb demanding, and getting, a standing ovation – Clark Gregg. Gregg pretends to be upset about Dalton's t-shirt.
3:33 p.m.: Loeb begins the Q&A (while hinting that more surprises may be on the way). He starts by bringing up Fitz's dire medical condition at the end of season 1. Given De Caestecker's very public love of Brett Dalton, how does Fitz feel about Agent Ward now? ” I was heartbroken by it,” he says, pretending to get choked up at the thought of it.
3:35 p.m.: Melinda May, meanwhile, had an affair with Ward. How is Ming-Na feeling about it now? “Let's just say it made me want to do some home improvement, with some power tools – on his foot,” she says.
3:36 p.m.: How has Henstridge's world changed since becoming Agent Simmons? “I think I've become more intelligent,” she says.
3:37 p.m.: Bennet notes that “I was an agent of SHIELD for, like, one day, and then it all went to s—.” Loeb asks if we'll see her be more involved with the folks at SHIELD next year. “I believe there's going to be some changes,” she says, noting that Skye was betrayed by somebody. “It's fine. I still ship Skye/Ward, but it's going to take a while, so until then, I'm really okay with Skimmons.” (De Caestecker blushes as Bennet and Henstridge smile at each other.)
3:38 p.m.: What was the day like when the producers told Dalton about Ward's left turn into evil? “Well, Jeph, funny you should ask. Bit of an emotional roller coaster that day,” Dalton says. It was Friday night, he and Wen were filming a fight scene, and then the producers asked him to come see them afterwards. He stalled as long as he could, went in, and then says that his jaw was on the floor for the next 15 minutes. “Okay, so I'm not being fired, but now I'm a bad guy? So I'm not part of the team?” he recalls thinking. He enjoyed getting to work with Bill Paxton. Jed Whedon says Dalton “embraced it pretty quickly.”
3:39 p.m.: The crowd roars when Loeb refers to Gregg as “Director Coulson.” (Loeb is largely treating the actors and characters as interchangeable beings.) What was it like for both Coulson and fanboy Gregg when Nick Fury left Coulson in charge of SHIELD? Gregg jokes that his real self and his alter ego “have been merging over time. And in that moment, both of them said – very loudly inside my head – 'SQUEEEEE!' I think you know what I mean.”
3:40 p.m: Loeb turns to the producers for info on season 2, and asks him to make announcements about new characters. Tancharoen confirms that Lucy Lawless will appear on the show “playing a longtime SHIELD veteran. She's tough. She may have a knife that's always by her side. Her name is Isabelle Hartley, and you'll be seeing her pretty soon.”
3:42 p.m.: Loeb says the show will be adding an old Marvel British spy character named Lance Hunter. Bell says he'll be played by a young English actor named Nick Blood. Bell: “As far as we know, that is his real name – which is so much cooler than Lance Hunter. He's not a SHIELD agent, he is a mercenary. We are in tatters, everything is falling apart, we are being hunted, the government does not recognize us, and Coulson is reaching out everywhere he can.”
3:44 p.m.: Loeb suggests season 2 will need a big bad. Whedon says Reed Diamond (who worked with the producers on “Dollhouse”) to play Daniel Whitehall, another Hydra bad guy. Whedon is so relieved to be able to say “Hydra” after they were locked down from it for most of season 1.
3:45 p.m.: Loeb asks Gregg to tell the crowd what they get with their Agent Koenig-approved lanyards. Gregg does not actually know, so Loeb has to whisper in his ear. It is all an elaborate tease to show the season 1 blooper reel. There is a lot of Chloe Bennet screwing up and/or goofing around, and more of Ming-Na Wen smiling than in the entire first season combined.
3:49 p.m.: Running out of time, so my guess is we will not be getting any “Daredevil” stuff.
3:50 p.m.: A little kid with a giant Agent Coulson gun has a question for Agent Ward: “How dare you?” Dalton is rendered speechless.
3:52 p.m.: How would the rest of the team feel if there's a Ward redemption arc this season? Henstridge: “Terrible.” De Caestecker: “Yup.” (He high-fives Dalton.) Bennet: “I don't know. He's just really hot as a Hydra agent, isn't he? I'm gonna say no for right now.” Ming-Na Wen: “Well, as long as he keeps taking off his shirt in front of me.” Dalton doesn't get to answer. Gregg: “I don't feel good about it. But maybe if he brought Fitz a monkey.”
3:54 p.m.: A Deadpool/Where's Waldo? cosplayer tries to talk them into having Deadpool appear in season 2. “Sorry, no,” says Whedon. “Deadpool lives over in that other universe,” says Loeb. “This is our universe!”
3:55 p.m.: How would Bennet feel about Skye turning out to be Jessica Drew? “That would be pretty cool,” she says, while admitting, “I don't know anything. I'm gonna trust these guys over here.” Tancharoen calls it “a fun guessing game” for Bennet, and Bennet figures she'll find out only right before the audience does.
3:57 p.m.: How did the actors react when they found out Ward was Hydra? Gregg: “To be honest, being part of SHIELD on our show, working in Marvel is like being in SHIELD. There were suddenly a lot of producers with some special new pages, and we were all taken into a trailer, where we read the new ending and discovered that our friend was a traitor. Which was really cool! But also very sad.” Wen and Bennet both freaked out about it. “We both started crying,” says Bennet. “And you were freaking out, like, 'Ohmigod, he kissed me,'” recalls Wen, “and I was like, 'I SLEPT WITH HIM!'” De Caestecker still can't talk about it, so Dalton says, “I thought it was good and bad.” He didn't get to spend as much time with his co-stars in the later episodes, but, again, got to work with Bill Paxton “and just run amok, and I really enjoyed that. I thought it was so much fun being the bad guy.” Gregg notes that right after that, they were shown “Winter Soldier” and saw what impact it would have on their show. “It was the greatest idea to have, even in our core team, have someone from Hydra,” he says.
3:58 p.m.: The last fan question is a request for season 2 footage, but the show only started shooting yesterday. Loeb brings up the lanyards again and asks Coulson if he'll give permission to the audience to see something. “Here is a little piece of season 2,” Loeb announces.
3:59 p.m.: We see Patton Oswalt as Agent Koenig (or one of his brothers/clones) greeting Ballroom 20, again talking up the importance of security lanyards. He asks the crowd to recite what the SHIELD acronym stands for. “The H does not stand for Hoobastank!” Now there's a second Agent Koenig, and makes a reference to Bobbi Morse (aka Marvel heroine Mockingbird). “She just wanted to say that if (Coulson) needs her, she's in.” Koenig #1 leaves, Koenig #2 starts the lanyard spiel again, then talks about SHIELD starting over from scratch, and notes they have some secret weapons “most of you are already aware of.” He asks the ballroom if we're with them. There are some cheers, and Koenig looks forward to seeing us again in the fall.
That's all, folks…