I about leapt out of my seat last night when I heard our evil Daisy Clover driver tell Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter to watch out for Leviathan.
“Ha!” I said (to myself, as the rest of the house was in bed). “Leviathan! Look out Coulson and Skye, er, Daisy, er whatever your name is now!”
Why so excited? It’s looking more and more like there’s a three-way war brewing on [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469) - and a whole lot of deception.
And, honestly, because it supports a post I published on my blog, Marvel Cinematic University, on April 16, 2014, linking Leviathan to Agents of SHIELD and Grant Ward - arguably the first blog to do so. (With all due respect, take that Jamie Lovett! [I say that with love, of course])
I’m doing a bit of an update with this post to evolve my original idea, adding some new thoughts based on the Leviathan reveal on Agent Carter.
Let’s take a look at Ward again
What originally sent me down the Leviathan path was an off-hand Easter egg and a few clues in the first season of Agents of SHIELD. Back then, I speculated that “Grant Ward” was the alias of Russian secret agent Vasili Dassaiev.
How’d I get there?I started by reading ComicBook.com’s recap of Easter eggs. Two notes immediately jumped out. One, a quick mention about Agent John Garrett’s partial cyborg reveal and two, this Ward quote: “It’s not the first time my identity has been compromised.” ComicBook.com asked the question, “This has the potential to be a great Easter egg if we were to find out just WHO he used to be down the road, and it was somebody recognizable.”
I don’t know how recognizable Dassaiev is to comic book fans, but if the man we know as Ward is Dassaiev - or has used that alias - the bigger implication is huge.
The Great Wheel starts spinning
After a little research about the Earth-616 version of Garrett (that would be the comic book version), I discovered another interesting bit biographical info.
Turns out Garrett was once on a covert team of secret agents from across time called the Great Wheel of the Zodiac, formed by Leonardo da Vinci, no less. The team included such luminaries as Dum Dum Dugan, Nick Fury and Baron Wolfgang von Strucker - all connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe via Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and, soon, The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Also a member of the Great Wheel? The late Daniel Whitehall and Dassaiev (Ward?).
Right, so how’s Ward connected? Each member of the Great Wheel was given a zodiac inspired code name. That got me thinking - do we know what the agent currently known as Grant Ward’s astrological sign is?
Turns out we do. In the pilot episode, we learn that Ward’s birthday is January 7, 1983. Since that also happens to be my wife’s birthday, I knew off the bat that Ward is a Capricorn. (Today’s date, actually - and Brett Dalton’s real birthday, which kind of sticks a pin in the original Dassiev theory - maybe.)
Yep, you’re way ahead of me. Dassaiev was the Great Wheel agent code-named Capricorn. Come to think of it, that drawing our evil Daisy Clover driver makes in the dirt kind of resembles a symbol of Zodiac. Even a little like the symbol for Capricorn.
Dassaiev, one of the Soviet Union’s greatest spymasters, was active (in the comics) after World War II. He’s also one of the founders of Leviathan.
And now we have a Marvel series based in that post-WW II timeline. One in which Leviathan is active - and actively looking for weapons. At a time when the SSR will evolve into SHIELD, likely with more than one HYDRA agent already involved.
But wait, there’s more
Sure, sure. The birthday is a pretty circumstantial (especially considering that the birthdate is actually Dalton’s birthdate), but remember how SHIELD producers Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon are always telling us #ItsAllConnected? That makes me wonder if there are any clues in the first few episodes of SHIELD to support this theory.
There kinda is. Remember the episode, The Hub? In that episode, Ward and Fitz are off on a secret mission to South Ossetia in the Caucasus, formerly a part of the Soviet Union. Ward has contacts there, he says. They turn out dead (or do they? Who knows, now, if Ward was on a secret mission of his own at the same time), and Fitz saves the day. All a ruse to further endear Ward to the team? Possibly.
So the bigger implication. If Ward is really Dassaiev - or has used that alias or is a descendant of Dassaiev - and Agents of SHIELD is borrowing a bit from the comics’ storyline of Garrett and Dassaiev’s past together, we may be in for some serious trouble.
You see, when the Great Wheel dissolved, it wasn’t an amicable our-job-here-is-done kinda break-up. No, this was a bad break-up. The group split in different directions. Fury established SHIELD, Strucker built HYDRA and Dassaiev helped create Leviathan. Leviathan was just as big and just as deadly as HYDRA. It featured prominently in Marvel’s Secret Warriors comic - that is until Leviathan up and disappeared altogether.
But let’s revisit the Dassaiev name a moment more. Now that we’re rockin’ and rollin’ in the 1940s - post WWII, beginning of the Cold War - maybe Dassaiev isn’t Ward - but Ward’s great grandfather.
A familial connection makes sense. It also allows for Ward to be even more deadly and brilliant than we thought. Maybe he played Garrett all along ...
Agents of NOTHING
Now that we’re in the midst of the second season of SHIELD, we know Garrett and Ward were never aligned with HYDRA. So who were they aligned with? Who is Ward aligned with? Surely they weren’t working for Mr. Hyde (let’s just call Kyle MacLachlan that now). Ward must be connected to something larger. Who is it?
Remember, it’s all connected. With Carter showing up in SHIELD, I’m sure we’ll be treated to Leviathan arriving sometime in the back half of SHIELD as well.
You could even go so far as to say that an eventual your-enemy-is-my-enemy alliance between Leviathan and SHIELD could bridge the gap for Ward to rejoin Coulson’s team. Again, a theory for another day.
Finally, Secret Warriors. Comic fans already know that in many, many ways, this series is the inspiration for Captain America: The Winter Soldier - almost more that The Winter Soldier arc is. Our friend Lovett (I say that, but I haven’t met him) wrote a brilliant essay on how SHIELD mimics that series as well.
In that comic series, created by Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman, Fury discovers HYDRA has infested SHIELD since the organization’s formation. The name of the lead-in? Nick Fury: Agent of Nothing.
And that just leads to more questions. Is Coulson’s team Fury’s Secret Warriors? It seems possible - even probable. Daisy Johnson was a member - a leader, even. A casual perusal of those story lines feels a lot like reading the logline of any SHIELD episode.