If you haven't heard, S.H.I.E.L.D, Marvel's fictional spy agency, is getting a TV series, with "Avengers" writer/director also at the helm. While fellow showrunner Jeph Leob has stated the series will be "autonomous" from "Avengers" to please the people who haven't yet seen the movie (all six of you), it stands to reason there will be at some character tie-in to "The Avengers", even if it is limited to guest spots. Here's the lowdown on who could show up in S.H.I.E.L.D. and how . . .
Role: Nick Fury
Played by: Samuel L. Jackson
In the comics: The head of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury has a love/hate relationship with the superheroes of the Marvel Universe, something well-played in the film. While Fury genuinely seems to care about the heroes, the nature of his spymaster duties leads him to ultimately keep secrets which put his friends in danger.
In the TV Show: The question is not "is Nick Fury going to be in SHIELD?" The question is, "how can Nick Fury not be in SHIELD?" The character is practically synonymous with the organization, so much so that one of his most famous on-going series was entitled "Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD". I'm pretty sure that Jackson, whose TV roles include voicing anime character "Afro Samurai", is up for appearing in at leasta couple episodes of "S.H.I.E.L.D.". If not, I'm sure David Hasselhoff is available.
Role: Maria Hill
Played By: Cobie Smulders
In the comics: With markedly more antagonistic attitude towards superheroes, Hill takes over S.H.I.E.L.D. after Fury's attempt to overthrow the country of Latveria goes horribly sideways. Things initially look up for Hill after her victory with Tony Stark in the Civil War against Captain America, but one alien invasion later, she's on the run from the supervillain-run HAMMER with Tony Stark. She's currently working with the Avengers.
On the TV Show: At a glance, Hill looks like a easy fit for the "S.H.I.E.L.D.". After all, Smulders is a TV show actress, playing a character who didn't get too much screen-time on the movie. Unfortunately, CBS thwarted this possibility. The network has renewed "How I Met Your Mother" for at least two more seasons, and with this show running on ABC, it's unlikely Hill will appear as much more than a guest star for the foreseeable future.
Role: Agent Phil Coulson
Played by: Clark Gregg
In the comics: Unlikely virtually any character in the Marvel Cinematic universe, Coulson is a canon immigrant, having been created for the movies. He did appear in the comic mini-series "Battle Scars" alongside Nick Fury's son - who happens to look a lot like Samuel L. Jackson.
On the TV Show: SPOILERS for anyone who hasn't seen "Avengers" (you know who you are), but needless to say, Coulson's appearance in a S.H.I.E.L.D. series would be challenging since his character was stabbed through the back by Loki. Still, fans have speculated his character is in fact alive - Nick Fury already lied about the circumstances of his death at least once. Even if he's dead dead, fans have also pointed out his resemblance to android Avenger the Vision, though Gregg has spoken out against this particular possibility. Like Smulders, Gregg is a shoe-in for a TV role, and unlike Smulders, he's not contractually obligated by a rival network. But since Coulson's demise was key to the plot of "The Avengers", it seems any return would be handled in the subsequent films - and not the autonomous TV show.
Role: Sharon Carter
Played By: Hayley Atwell/Amanda Righetti
In the comics: The (grand) niece of Captain America's World War II girlfriend Peggy, Sharon Carter is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with an on-again, off-again relationship with Captain America. Like Maria Hill, she's currently working with a team of "Avengers", with her currently beau Captain America.
In the TV Show: Sharon Carter is the subject of debate in the "Marvel Universe". The nurse who checks in on Steve Rogers in the 21st Century (played by Amanda Righetti) is supposed to be Sharon Carter, but recently Hayley Atwell, who played Peggy in "Captain America: First Avenger", hinted she would be in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier", capping off speculation she could play both Peggy and Sharon! Like Coulson, her character's introduction would most likely be handled by the movies and not the film, but unlike Coulson, it seems likely her character could be developed in the TV show, leaving the door always open . . .
Played by: Jeremy Renner
In the comics: A former supervillain partnered with then-Russian spy Black Widow, Hawkeye is an extraordinary archer who joins the ranks of the "Avengers" - only to clash with just about everyone on the team, not the least of which is Captain America. Despite his problem with authority, he's one of the staples of the team, and currently leading the Secret Avengers.
On the TV Show: Though verging in the territory of "less likely", Hawkeye could appear in the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series since the movies have already introduced him as a sniper working for the agency. Renner was unhappy with his role in "Avengers", since the character spent most of the movie as a mind-controlled mook. Renner is also no stranger to television, having appeared in guest spots in "House" and "Robot Chicken" along with the ABC cop drama "The Unusuals". While it is unlikely he'll appear for very long, a two-parter guest spot doesn't seem out of the question.
Role: Black Widow
Played By: Scarlett Johansson
In the comics: A sultry former Soviet spy, Natasha Romanoff was trained as Russia's answer to Captain America, with Captain America's sidekick Bucky, now the amnesiac assassin Winter Soldier, as her mentor. Eventually going rogue, Black Widow joins the Avengers, and eventually becomes a S.H.I.E.LD. agent. Like Hawkeye, she's major staple of the Marvel Universe, and like Hawkeye, she's among the line-up for the Secret Avengers.
On the TV Show: Going from "less likely" to "least likely", Scarlett Johansson has said she won't be donning the cat-suit any time soon, though she has expressed interest in both the "Avengers" sequels and returning for a solo film. As an A-Lister, it would be extremely unlikely that Johannson would appear much on the TV show, at least in the first couple years. However, "Avengers" mentions quite a few tidbits about her sordid career, and it's not out of the question her character wouldn't appear on the TV show eventually . . .
(That's it for this rant. Check out a new Blue Yonder Wednesday)