Those behind making ABC’s comic book drama “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” have had to deal with an issue that no other TV series faces. Because the series exists in the Marvel Comics TV and film universe, it has to adjust to events that happened in other productions.
In the aftermath of the feature film “Captain America: Civil War,” one of those big adjustments is that S.H.I.E.L.D. has a new leader known as the Director. Jason O’Mara, whose TV credits range from “Terra Nova” to “Sons of Liberty,” is handling the new role.
O’Mara’s prep work to take on the new role was to binge watch the third season. He had been watching the series on and off over the years, enough he had a general understanding of what has happened.
“But, once I got to join the show I knew it was time to become a S.H.I.E.L.D. nerd,” O’Mara says at a party hosted by Marvel Comics to promote their programming on ABC and Netflix.
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Because the party’s happening just as the fourth season of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” has started filming, O’Mara’s doesn’t know too much about the character. He has only a few clues.
Even if O’Mara knew everything – from where the Director was born to whether he prefers boxers or briefs – the actor would not be at liberty to say anything. The paranoia of the makers of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” far surpasses that of the Director.
“There’s so much social media out there, I say the wrong thing to one person and suddenly everyone has the information instantaneously,” O’Mara says. “If you are doing a pilot for a show that’s not part of a franchise, no one cares. But, as soon as you are part of one of these huge franchises, you have huge responsibilities.”
The upside of being the new guy is that it helps with the role – he’s the new guy playing the new guy.
The season opener provided one major clue about the Director: he’s extremely paranoid. His fears are triggered by incidents in the feature film where S.H.I.E.L.D. was infiltrated to the highest levels by the evil organization of Hydra.
Getting to join the cast is a thrill for O’Mara, who has been a fan of Marvel Comics since he was a youngster growing up in Ireland.
“I’m also a huge fan of the movies,” O’Mara says. “I have to pinch myself because this is such a thrill.”
The old and new directors finally meet in the Tuesday, Sept. 27, episode.
Clark Gregg, whose character of Agent Coulson was the previous leader but has had his power stripped down to where he’s only a field agent, knows the links between the Marvel films and the TV show better than anyone. Coulson was introduced in the first “Iron Man” movie in 2008 and has popped up in many of the other Marvel films since then. He likes that while there’s been a connection to the movies for the ABC series, the TV production also has been able to establish its own identity. And, it’s an identity that has changed each year.
“It has been satisfying to see our show stake out its own place in Marvel text and canon,” Gregg says. “There are a lot of characters from the comics that show up on our show and we kind of break them there.”
One of those Marvel Comics characters helped issue in the fourth season. The character of Ghost Rider has popped up his fiery head. How the Director will deal with the hero from Hell will play out this season.
It’s all part of the TV show cast and crew not only trying to make their own production but do it will still fitting properly into the Marvel Universe.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
- 10 p.m. Tuesdays, ABC (Channel 30.1)