As a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the writers of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have always had their hands tied creatively. Whilst the show has many strengths, they have always been somewhat limited in their scope by the events in the wider universe. Due to this lack of creative freedom, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have had a few disappointing storylines over the past couple of years, but one thing kept the fans going: brilliant performances from a talented ensemble.
Clark Gregg, Brett Dalton, Iain De Caestecker and Henry Simmons have had some standout performances over the seasons. But ultimately, it's the shows' outstanding female ensemble who have put their best foot forward week in, week out and made the show what it is today. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 may be the show's strongest yet, and the show's actresses have continued to shine throughout Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fairweather period. Let's take a look at the female cast members of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and what they have each brought to the show.
Ming-Na Wen has been the backbone of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. from the very first episode. We can't imagine someone else playing Agent May so perfectly. In real life, Ming-Na Wen is quite different from her character: Agent May doesn't often smile and can be intimidating at times, while Wen is very humble, funny and always smiling. Her ability to play a character who's so far removed from her own personality is a testament to Wen's acting ability.
Aside from her incredible performance, Wen has also won over legions of fans for performing her own stunts, and leaving us wondering how someone can be so agile at the age of 53. When asked on a talk show about whether she performed her own stunts, Ming-Na replied:
"Yeah. I'm not .. I don't wanna brag."
Ming-Na even suffered an injury while filming her own stunts this season and when asked about whether that would affect the rest of Season 4, she replied by saying:
"You can't keep the cavalry down."
No other actor on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has evolved quite the way Chloe Bennet has. She started off in Season 1 as a hacker for Coulson's team, and now she's an Inhuman going by the name of Daisy Johnson or Quake, who uses her powers to save lives. That's quite an interesting storyline for any actor to tackle, and Chloe Bennet has absolutely done the character justice. If you look back at any of the episodes from Season 1, you'll realize how much Chloe Bennet has had to work as an actor to differentiate hacker Skye from the Inhuman Daisy.
Elizabeth Henstridge has been successful in maintaining a perfect balance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. by completely differentiating her character, Jemma Simmons, from Agent May & Daisy/Skye/Quake. While May and Daisy are the muscles of the team, Jemma is the brain. Elizabeth's brilliant performance was one of the major highlights of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3.
- Fitz Just Took a Big Step To Becoming A Wild Marvel Villain (Spoilers)
- 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Season 4: What Is 'Project Looking Glass'?
- All Hail Madame Hydra: Is Aida Developing Emotions & Falling For Fitz On 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Season 4?
Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet and Elizabeth Henstridge have done a lot for the show as series regulars. However, the show has had some talented female actors on board who weren't or aren't series regulars, but whose contributions towards making the show better cannot be denied.
- Adrianne Palicki: Adrianne Palicki's 2011 Wonder Woman didn't get picked up, but she responded by giving a terrific performance on another superhero TV show. Palicki was a real asset on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the second and third seasons. Her character, Bobbi Morse, was written off the show to give her and Nick Blood's Lance Hunter their own spin-off show, which again wasn't picked up for a series. Adrianne Palicki's presence has been missed on the show, and we would love to see her back in future seasons. Nick Blood has recently been spotted on the set of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4, and fans remain optimistic that both Lance and Bobbi will be welcomed back into the fold — here's hoping!
- Ruth Negga: Ruth Negga played the villainous character, Raina, on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Seasons 1 & 2. There's no doubt about the fact that Negga can act. Her being nominated for an Oscar this year for her performance in Loving speaks volumes. But as an actor playing a villain, the greatest thing you can do is to get audiences to absolutely loathe you — and Ruth Negga managed to do just that.
- Mallory Jansen: As a human being, it is not easy to play the role of an emotionless robot. However, Mallory Jansen has played the role of Aida to perfection. Having only made her first appearance on the show earlier this season, Mallory has already managed to play three different characters on the show — Aida, Madame Hydra and Agnes. Each of these characters are very different from each other, and she has managed to portray each of these roles beautifully.
- Natalia Cardova-Buckley: If your character on a show becomes a fan-favourite, you're probably doing a good job. Cardova-Buckley made her debut on the show midway through Season 3, and has only appeared in 11 episodes since, but it feels like she's been around from the very beginning. We can't get enough Natalia's Elena "Yo-Yo" Rodriguez, and would love to see her as a series regular on Season 5.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has managed to do something that few other superhero TV shows have managed to do — it has found a great ensemble of female actors and given them compelling roles to tackle. Coulson might be great, but it's the women of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. who truly make the show stand out.