Marvel Studios and Marvel Television – especially, Marvel Television – are very adept at bringing characters into their shared universe in a way that you wonder: “Where in the world did she come from?”; or “Who is that and where have I seen him before?”; or “Hey, check out this ‘new character’ Marvel has developed!” then having the tables spun about a bit and there ya go: “I know that character from the comics!”.
And, they have built our expectations that these characters would have a background in the comics with their introductions of Iron Man / Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey, Jr) and Pepper Potts (Gwynneth Paltrow) in the Iron Man movie; Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) all over the MCU; Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) almost as ubiquitously – and, quite surprisingly sprung as a simple worker bee in Stark’s employ who was revealed to be the legendary Natasha Romanova; Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and many others have been gloriously brought from the pages of Marvel comics to the Big Screen.
And, we loved it!
The reveal that the simple clerk who was working for Stark was, in truth, a super heroine, wowed audiences - especially when said "clerk" took down the much larger man in the boxing ring.
Marvel saw how much fun we had with that.
Skye (Chloe Bennet):
Daisy Johnson / Quake
In Season One of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, we were introduced to a top-level agent who had previously been killed in action by Loki in The Avengers; a pair of nerdy kid agents who were more excited about new gizmos and computing resources than about actually having a job; a wickedly bad-assed “retired” field agent with a legendary tale; and an up-and-coming super-specialist agent who preferred working alone.
We were also introduced to an orphan girl turned activist hacker who was attempting to bring down the colossus that was S.H.I.E.L.D. – a hacker who had taken on the nondescript name, Skye (played by Chloe Bennet).
Skye was, apparently, an exceptional hacker. Early on, Marvel made sure we were aware of the fact she was an “0-8-4” (an object or person of unknown origin and capabilities) and it was inferred that her parents were some sort of fantastic creations of science – or, they were “monsters”. So, she was installed into the story line as a character that would, as time progressed, become a major part of the story much the same way Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) are major plot points in the Avengers movies.
But, we had no idea whether or not she had a history on the publishing side (the comics) of Marvel. And, we would not know, for sure, if she had a history in the comics for the entirety of Season One. We had no idea if she had any sort of pulp origination all the way until the very last 2 minutes of the entirety of the first half of Season Two (i.e. right at the end of the mid-season finale)!
Innumerable nerds scurried into their archives, scoured the Internet and listened intently to innumerable other nerds expounding on the history of this character. And, everything that was known about that character was brought out and laid on the table for everyone to see. Great pride was exuded by those who were first with the information.
All of her disparate story lines have been hashed out and examined. Any instance of involvement in the comics has inspired dreams of stories that could make their way into the MCU and we are still growing with the character as her exploits are detailed in the show.
And, then there was her father:
“The Doctor” (Kyle MacLachlan):
Dr. Calvin Zabo nee Johnson / Mr. Hyde
At the very end of Season One, Marvel teased the existence of a mysterious “doctor” who claimed to be Skye’s father and pursuer. Evil permeated his demeanor and malevolent intent dripped from his dark hair. Blood (his? Someone else’s?) bathed his hands and arms.
And, “Flowers” Raina (Ruth Negga), a season-long, morally ambiguous antagonist of our heroic team is the one who led us to him. Since we felt in our expansive, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent hearts that she could be up to nothing Good, we were confident we could assume the same about this blood-soaked creature to whom she was reporting.
And, she was giving away information regarding our Skye! To him!
As Season Two opened and progressed, it was confirmed “The Doctor” really was Skye’s father and that he was hunting for her – with intense prejudice and no small amount of destruction, dismemberment and death. Weaving in stories provided by an off-the-grid former agent who had been one of the two to originally have found Skye, we were told of people (Hydra) and “monsters” (Cal & Jaiying) who had been after the child ever since she had come into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, we came to realize just how dangerous this man truly could be.
We heard that the woman who was the other agent with him when they recovered the infant child had been brutally murdered trying to keep the secret that, if revealed, would betray the location of this little girl. And, we were told this remaining agent was in a constant state of fear of discovery and in perpetual hiding so that he could simply stay alive and would not be found out by either the monsters or the people who were searching for the girl.
Kyle MacLachlan portrayed the character of Skye’s dad. Well, “portrayed” may be a wee bit of an understating of his performance – he became the character of Skye’s dad enveloping us in an amazing tapestry of persona depicting a man that teetered on the bleeding edge of determination wavering erratically between insanity and brilliance. He masterfully blended a father’s love of his child with a monster’s hatred and disdain of all that stood in his way of recovering that child.
And, he was... amazing.
There was speculation “The Doctor” could be Dr. Calvin Zabo/Mr. Hyde (which would mean Skye is, in reality, Daisy Johnson) or, since the Inhumans were beginning to be teased a little, perhaps he could be Maximus the Mad, the deranged brother of the King of the Inhumans, Black Bolt!
Those who were expecting the former were excited when it was revealed his name, indeed, was “Cal”. Then, several weeks later, they were confused when he introduced his daughter, Skye/Daisy, to his office in Milwaukee and, on the door, was “Dr. Calvin L. Johnson”. Relief came to the masses when Skye asked about the name and he offhandedly suggested he had taken a “more menacing” name (Zabo) as he searched for his missing daughter.
Werner Reinhardt (Reed Diamond) was liberated by Alexander Pierce from his cell in which Agent Peggy Carter (Haley Atwell) had placed him after World War II. Upon his liberation, he set out to resume his experiments to discover the properties and capabilities of the “obelisk” he had found during the War.
Prior to his incarceration, he came across this woman who could touch the obelisk and not be turned into charcoal. This amazed him. Everyone else who had touched the thing had died horribly.
After his release, he went back – looking for, perhaps, any progeny or other relative of that woman. When he found the woman herself was still alive and, even more amazing to him, that she didn’t appear to have aged a day over the intervening forty-plus years, he wanted to know everything about her!
So, he dissected her removing her organs and all her bodily fluids transplanting them into his own body. And, he became younger – resuming the appearance he had upon conclusion of the War.
And, he changed his name –
To Daniel Whitehall.
Again, the nerdgasm of recognition assailed the fans of Marvel comics. Daniel Whitehall had been the villainous and supremely powerful Kraken!
And… then he died.
He was killed before “Kraken” could ever make an appearance.
Or, was he? Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) checked him – he was dead. But, with all those organs and with the regenerative properties of Jaiying’s (Dichan Lachman) Inhuman physiology implanted into his body, will he truly stay dead? Kraken was a major villain in the comics, after all.
Or, will Kraken be "gifted" to some other host?
Donnie Gill / Blizzard (Dylan Minnette) was introduced to us as a “Leo Fitz” clone who was a loner at S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Science & Technology Academy. Since his “reveal” as a powered individual came during the same episode, there wasn’t a lot of conjecture about who he was, but there was a lot of “aha!” claims that sprang up like rabbits all over the Internet as the nerd army proudly ripped him from the pages of Marvel canon and presented his history to the world.
John Garrett / The Clairvoyant / Deathlok Prime (Bill Paxton) was an old friend of Phil Coulson’s. He was able to buddy up with ol’ Phil and his team and infiltrate their operation without anyone knowing (viewers included) that he was really up to no good.
Then, in a staggering reveal, we found he was actually the Clairvoyant that the team had been hunting all season. Plus, it was revealed he was the original Deathlok – a mantle that was later assumed by Mike Peterson (J. August Richards) as Mike was fitted with the technology from the Deathlok program to help mitigate the damage done to his body when he was blown up on that bridge.
But, this new Deathlok works for the good guys and is a hero.
Dr. Helen Cho (Claudia Kim) was introduced to the MCU in Avengers: Age of Ultron. She is an elite genius in the field of bio-engineering and it was her device, the Cradle, that crafted the form of Vision (in the movies). But, she is not the one that has the nerds all atwitter.
In the comics, Phil & Helen Cho had two children: hyper-genius, Amadeus Cho, and his sister, Madame Curie “Maddy” Cho. Maddy wasn’t anything special – other than being killed, along with her parents, when Pythagoras Dupree sent his Excello agents to the Cho house to kill Amadeus. (It was later discovered that Excello Corporation (run by Pythagoras) actually had taken Maddy and was holding her - keeping her dependent on the corporation in order to stay alive.)
The key, here, was Amadeus. His intellect was such that he could examine details at the quantum level and, where others are computing on ones and zeroes, he computes all possible permutations simultaneously to derive outcomes that are advantageous to him. He’s kind of a big deal.
But, was this Dr. Helen Cho the same Helen Cho that was Amadeus’ mother? Yeah, the nerds are all over that one hoping Marvel will “make it so, Number One”.
Update: As pointed out by Brian Apostol in the comments below, Amadeus Cho (Martin Starr) has appeared in the MCU - appearing as a college student in The Incredible Hulk (the Edward Norton version of the character). And, he was in his early-to-mid twenties. So, this Helen Cho, if she is his mom, has some Jiaying-level anti-aging tech she's not sharing with the rest of us!
But, maybe, since he'd be in his late twenties-early thirties now... maybe he's her older brother and she is taking the place of Maddie in the MCU?! It would be a perfect fit!
The character of Raina, the characters of Sunil Bakshi (Simon Kassianides), Ian Quinn (David Conrad) and Octavian Bloom (Fred Dryer) have all had fans of the show sifting diligently through their stash of comic books and online resources in a fevered effort to be the first to expose this character to the world for who he truly is – or, at least, who he was in the comics.
All to no avail.
Marvel is very clever. They sort in just enough original characters (sci-sibs Fitz & Simmons, Ward, May and others who had no apparent previous history in the comics – even Phil Coulson) and canon characters brought from the pages of the comics to keep their fans constantly trying to figure out who has connections to whom and where these characters might have been seen before.
Hydra (within S.H.I.E.L.D.)
It was assumed (in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) that Hydra was destroyed in the aftermath of World War II by Agent Peggy Carter and her Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR).
Then, in the very first episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we are introduced to an organization that would become known as Centipede. Later, it was determined that Centipede was a branch of Hydra – after we found out in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that Hydra had continued to exist all along within the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D. itself!
Did not see that one coming.
Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge):
At the end of Season Two, Jemma was sucked up into the Kree stone S.H.I.E.L.D. kept locked away in a secure vault on board the aircraft carrier, Iliad. In the season premier for Season Three, we discovered Jemma was on an alien moon (planet?) somewhere out in the galaxy and she was fleeing something that could, she feared, smell blood.
During the Inhumans story line of Season Two, we saw the Kree stone come to life (liquefy) then solidify again. We were left unsure as to whether or not this transformation occurred only in the presence of Inhumans or if there was some other trigger – perhaps an extraterrestrial one – from a planetary system “on the other side of the universe”.
If it was the presence of Inhumans that caused the transformation and since Jemma was the only person present when the door broke open to the vault and the stone absorbed her, we thought it would be safe to assume Jemma is an Inhuman. This would be particularly ironic in that she has a dominant personal distrust of “alien” tech and biological intrusions into humankind (she is a biologist, after all).
She was ready to kill off all the Inhumans... until she discovered her good friend, Skye, was one.
So, who will Jemma’s character be once she transitions into her Inhuman heritage? Might she be an existing Marvel character from the comics? Or, might she be an original character…
Or, if as Professor Elliott Randolph (Peter MacNicol), the Asgardian refugee S.H.I.E.L.D. had been hiding observed, perhaps the triggering mechanism was events on that foreign planet/moon/thing that caused the transformation and has nothing to do with Jemma… she just happened to be unfortunate enough to be in the room when it got hungry and wanted to swallow something.
But, that doesn’t line up with the assertion the Inhuman community made that it was Kree in origin and its purpose was to destroy Inhumans… hmmmmm…
Rosalind Price (Constance Zimmer):
Dr. Valerie Cooper? Abigail Brand? Someone else?
This season, we get to witness the advent of the Inhumans – and all the intrigue and logistical nightmares that go with that.
The U.S. Government, with it’s determined assertion that it will always be in control and that order and precedent shall always prevail, established the Advanced Threat Containment Unit (ATCU). At its head, they placed a woman we have come to know as Rosalind Price – for now.
We aren’t really sure exactly that she is “Rosalind Price” because this woman has worked for numerous high-level government organizations (CIA, FBI, NSA, Homeland Security, etc. – even MI-6! – also consulting for organizations such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC)) … and, in each job, she had a different alias (Sarah Russell, Jane Thompson, Margaret Campbell, Samantha Potter, “Mrs. Kinley”, “Ms. McBride”… if any of these names rings a bell, chime in below!).
And, “Rosalind Price” doesn’t appear anywhere!
So, who could she be? One of her aliases (Margaret Campbell) shares a surname with Daisy’s friend, Lincoln. But, I would doubt they are related.
Wouldn’t I? ... Should I…?
Maybe she’s a Skrull! Early on, reports were that Fox owned all the rights to Skrulls in conjunction with their Fantastic Four franchise. It was assumed that was why Marvel used the Skrulls' cousins, the Chitauri, in the Avengers’ Battle of New York instead of the Skrulls themselves. Later reports refuted that assertion, though, stating Fox does, indeed, own the rights to “Super Skrulls”, but generic Skrulls are fair game for both (all?) studios.
Maybe Marvel is setting up The Secret Invasion storyline which included the Secret Warriors founded by Nick Fury as a means to insure he knew who was on his team and who might be a shape-shifting Skrull and could not be trusted.
Or, my theory: She is actually Dr. Valerie Cooper. Valerie was a powerful female character in Marvel comics. She was the Director of the Commission for Superhuman Activities (CSA) created as a result of the Superhero Registration Act crafted by the President and enacted by Congress.
It was her determination, in the comics, that Steve Rogers should be “fired” as Captain America and she had him replaced with John F. Walker, previously called the Super-Patriot. Johnny Walker later became Jack Daniels aka USAgent.
Who’s he gonna be next, Marvel: Jose Cuervo? Oh, John (Jack?) is dead?
Well, you can fix that…
Dr. Cooper, though, might have some entanglements with Fox Studios as she was also the Chairwoman for Sentinel O*N*E – the operation that created the Sentinel Project last seen in X-Men: Days of Future Past. She also worked with Professor Charles Xavier in the creation of X-Factor. We’ll see as Constance's character plays out over the next few months on AoS.
There has been a lot of speculation that she would be Abigail Brand – a larger-than-life personality in the Marvel canon who ruthlessly (and, very dynamically) ran the Sentient World Observation & Response Department (S.W.O.R.D.) – cosmic sister to S.H.I.E.L.D. She has green hair and eyes and is a mutant/alien hybrid.
Again, there you have your “mutant” connection.
So, like Valerie, Abigail would also have to be able to be brought to the screen by Marvel Studios without having to pay homage to Fox or it would be a no go. With all the clamoring for more “people of color” in the MCU, I would think Abigail would be the perfect opportunity to introduce a non-white character to the viewers.
Maybe Marvel is being non-specific with regards to Zimmer’s character’s name because their lawyers are working to insure there won’t be any legal hang-ups with Fox – or other studios. Maybe they are in the process of determining which, if either, of these two names are not owned by Fox and, therefore is available for use.
Or… maybe she is the misdirect and the real NuSuper will be Agent Banks (Andrew Howard)?
Update: There is a lot of speculation as to who Lash (played by Matthew Willig) might be. Some say he is Agent Banks (Roz sent him ahead just before Lash struck the armored car carrying Daisy, Mack and their Inhuman captive, Dwight Frye (Chad Lindberg)).
But, Lash can't be either Roz or Banks as both were with Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) & Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) on that DC subway when Lash hit Lincoln's (Luke Mitchel) hospital looking for our favorite electric MD and found Daisy & Mack with him.
Could he be Dr. Andrew Garner (Blair Underwood)? I'm betting against it.
Could he be Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe)? That's my guess.(10/28/2015)
Update: Lash is Dr. Garner! Missed that one, too!(11/3/2015)
Marvel has proven remarkably adept at slipping in characters from their comics stories without revealing who those characters are. And, they have a knack for doing that while not being heavy-handed or “kludgy” about it. They always manage to fit everything into a natural progression from the sleight-of-hand introduction of the character through to the stunning reveal.
- In Skye’s case, she didn’t even know who she was.
- In the case of Dr. Calvin Zabo, he obviously knew who he was, but S.H.I.E.L.D. (and the fans who observed from the S.H.I.E.L.D. point-of-view) had no name with which they could associate him – until he chose to reveal himself to us.
- In the case of John Garrett, he hid the truth of his undertakings and intents while delving deeper and deeper into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s trust.
- Mike Peterson “became” Deathlok in the course of the show. In the comics, Deathlok was Michael Collins, but the technology can be applied to anyone.
Amadeus Cho – is he Helen’s son? Brother? Related to Helen at all?
Will he bring his prodigious mind into the MCU through her?
If so, will it be on the television side? Or, in the cinema…
Jemma Simmons could be an Inhuman. But, what would be her powers? Could the identity of her “powered persona” be one that we have seen before in the comics? Or, will she be created as an original to the show…
Or, is she just Jemma Simmons and very fortunate to have a friend like Leo Fitz?
- Rosalind Price has a lot of names. Clearly Marvel has plans for some big reveal in the future or she would be better defined at this point. But, will she (can she?) be an established character? Or, is Marvel still working out who she will be as her character matures. And,
Agent Banks is still hanging around on the periphery... along with many, many others.