[List] - SHIELD Series Casting Suggestions

So, we now live in a world where Joss Whedon's next TV show will be about SHIELD. Fantastic. Something else for me to get leg-numbingly excited about over the next year. Whedon himself has said that the show's development is well along, and a full cast of characters has been decided. Saying:
"It’s new characters. It needs to be its own thing. It needs to be adjacent [to the Marvel Cinematic Universe] but you don’t want to do a show where you’re constantly going, ‘Iron Man just left, but he was totally here a minute ago.’ You want them to do their own thing."
He goes on to say that SHIELD isn't a bunch of superheroes, they are regular folk who live in a world with superheroes. which means, they have to try twice as hard to be half as strong. This makes sense, for budgetary reasons, and for logistical ones. The show obviously can't have Iron Man appearing every sweeps period, and it can't have new characters flying off, punching aliens in the face every week. It's needs to be more compact.

What will the show look like? Well, we can make some educated guesses. First, it will be an ensemble, because everything Whedon has done up to this point has been so. He likes big casts, and putting them in big universes. And nothing screams bigger then the government agency overseeing all superheroics in the Marvel universe. This show is going to have a lot of characters, regular and recurring. Second, it'll be funny and serious in equal measure. Characters will not conform to pigeon holed archetypes (despite evidence to the contray), and will seem... human. Flawed, funny, merciful, bastards.
Knowing these things won't stop me from making some unsolicited casting suggestions (read: wild ass guesses), based on what already exists, and what we know of Joss.

Hit the jump to see my list of who I think will, and who I'd like to see, turn up on SHIELD.

I'm breaking this list into two separate, yet equally important groups: the Previously Established, and the Series Specific. Why? Because I'm certain this is how it will actually happen. They'll need to include at least some characters already introduced in the films, to establish a connection between the two. Because it's the easier of the two, we'll start with:

The Previously Established

Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill

To me, this is the most obvious choice. Smulders has said she has only a year left on How I Met Your Mother, which lines up perfectly with SHIELD starting in the fall of 2013. And Joss loves having a strong female at the head of his shows. She went underused in The Avengers, but did establish a close relationship with Nick Fury, which puts her in the perfect position of authority to oversee SHIELD operations, since they won't be getting Samuel L. Jackson for the show.

Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson

The best case scenario. Everybody wants it to happen, but will it? Will Joss undue the major emotional fulcrum of his film, in order to sate the desires of the fandom. Past experience suggests no, and this will be a pipe dream. But lets pretend, shall we? There are enough Marvel-established ways to do it. My money still stands on Nick Fury is a lying bastard, but even Clark Gregg himself has expressed interest in returning as the Vision, a robot implanted with the memories of a dead hero. Not only would that make a great hook to start the show on, and explain why he would have to keep a low profile (hanging out on TV rather then appearing in the films), but the character is well established enough that viewers already like him, and would follow him to the series. It's the best of both worlds: the Avengers still think he's dead, and remain motivated by his sacrifice, and we get more Son of Coul. Clark Gregg is no stranger to TV, and a TV series schedule provides enough off time for the actors to pursue other avenues in film, as Gregg is like to do. And, with his upcoming appearance in Much Ado, Gregg has already made it into Whedon's Rolodex of recurring actors. But, if Coulson stays dead, we can always turn to...

Titus Welliver as "Agent Blake"

The lead SHIELD agent in the upcoming short film Item 47. Welliver has made a good career out of playing supporting TV roles, on shows like LOST and Deadwood, and would make an excellent part of a ensemble. Since the announcement, I've assumed that Item 47 will be as much a prequel to the series as a sequel to the film, and "Agent Blake" stands to fill the void left by Coulson.

Maximiliano Hernández as Jasper Sitwell

This character is playing the long game, like Coulson did. First appearing in Thor, the Consultant and Item 47 short films, and eventually the Avengers, Sitwell has been prowling the perimeter of the MCU for some time, and deserves to get some attention. The character first appear in 1966 in the comics, and as such, has the power of legacy on his side. Leave space in the films for bigger character, and let the series pick up the slack on characters like this. Besides, his patsy is legendary.

Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Bradford as "Claire and Benny"

Joss Whedon likes sarcasm. And who better to deliver it then the reigning queen of sarcasm, Lizzy Caplan. I can think of no other actress that would fit better with the way Whedon writes, that hasn't already worked with him. It's almost a crime. I could care less about Bradford, but having characters that come from outside the SHIELD experience, and look to each other for support in this crazy new world screams Xander and Willow to me, and sets up already existing audience surrogates. And, the series will need regular people in it, to show how the sudden revelations of the Avengers, effects the rest of the world.

Anyone else, like Banner, or Stark, or Fury, is too big a name (and too expensive an actor) to make more then a cameo once a season. The show needs to build a foundation of the smaller characters, and the actors that will play them the best, not draw people in with their names (as Joss has always done. Remember, he helps make names, not rides their coat tails). Which leads us nicely to:

The Series Specific

This is where we get to have fun, just pulling shit out of thin air...

Adam Baldwin as Ken Avery

Baldwin needs to be a lead on this show. No question about it, it's the sort of role he is made for. And, he's on really good terms with Joss. At Ottawa Comic-con, he said to the crowd that while his guest role on Castle was his dream role, characters like Jayne and John Casey are fun and easy for him to play. Who better to play a surly SHIELD agent then the hero of Canton? And why not have him fill the role of original creation? Ken Avery is described in a single issue of the comics as a thirty year veteran who serves on the Helicarrier. This character is basically a blank slate, so Joss and Baldwin can create him essentially from whole cloth.

Amy Acker as Abigail Brand

This character, head of SHIELD offshoot SWORD in the comics, was created by Whedon during his run on Astonishing X-Men. That along suggests she'll appear in the series. That, and if Whedon loves anything more then strong women, it's strong women in conflict. Defined by an antagonistic relationship with Hill, who she sees as ineffective and having stolen her job, Brand could be the Jayne to Hill's Mal, constantly questioning orders, bordering on insubordination. And who has proven herself capable time and time again of surprising viewers with just how much she is capable of (she's getting the majority share of praise for Much Ado)? Think less Fred, more Illyria. I intentionally appointed her a role that didn't involve a lab coat, because I think she needs to shake off that particular bit of type casting. But also, if they did do a Secret Invasion story line, who else would make a better Skrull Queen then Acker?

Jewel Straite as Doreen Green

Back when I listed some general casting suggestions for Marvel (some of which are already out of date), I said it was a straight toss up between Acker and Straite to play the role of Green, aka Squirrel Girl. And considering that I went with Acker for Brand, that means Jewel gets the Squirrels. I feel I need no explanation for her inclusion in the series: she's the most powerful hero in the Marvel Universe. With Squirrels. Squirrels!

Mark A. Sheppard as "Liaison"

Mark Sheppard might be the quintessential geek character actor working in television today. And do you know who we have to thank for this? That's right. Appearing as Badger on Firefly, Romo on Battlestar, Crowley on Supernatural, Canton on Doctor Who, Valda on Warehouse 13, Tanaka on Dollhouse, the Ring Leader on Chuck, and for my money, his very best work to date, as Sterling on Leverage, Sheppard has become the guy you can't not have on your show. And why wouldn't Joss use him again? As the Avengers ends, Fury has disobeyed the World Security Council, and SHIELD is on uneven ground, politically. It makes sense that the Council would insist on representation inside, to make certain things run smooth in the future. And who else plays smarmy, unwanted but ultimately helpful better then Sheppard? No one, that's who. I would see this as a recurring role, a highlight to each season.

They could even throw in a twist, like he's Coulson's half brother (considering the resemblance between the actors). That'd be fun.

Erica Cerra as Jessica Drew

Again, during my first round of Marvel casting suggestions, I named Cerra as Jessica Drew, suggesting she would fit into a Captain America story, involving modern day Hydra agents. I ceed that idea, feeling that she'd make much more sense in the SHIELD series. Keep the Hydra angle, with SHIELD hunting them down. Introduce her first as a villain, a recurring antagonist, then as the series develops, have her make the transition over to the good guys. Basically, make her the SHIELD version of Spike, who had one of the more dramatic story arcs on Whedon's first show.

I think, what we should take away from this (other then I have way too much time on my hands to think of these sorts of things) is that, if even a fraction of the above suggestions comes within a mile of happening, this show is going to be good.

Of course, that's what I thought about Dollhouse back in 2007...
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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