At San Diego Comic-Con we spoke with the brains behind ABC’s hit Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read our interview below to see what Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen had to say about Season 4, FitzSimmons and Ghost Rider.
How much of the overall arc of the season do you have mapped out already?
Jed: We have it mapped out. We always start the season with tent poles. I would say the first half of the season has a lot more tent poles. (laughs). We sort of know how we want to end it and leave it at that. The fun of writing is that we don’t exactly know how we are going to get there. There are obstacles that get in the way like people getting their own TV show and canceling. (laughs) But we have a good idea and we’re pretty excited about it.
It seems like we have heard a lot of the other characters’ backstories and their family and what not. Fitz and Simmons still seem to be a mystery. Will we ever hear more about where they came from?
Jed: We weren’t going to do that, but now we will.
Maurissa: We had an episode where they went back to the academy and there were a few scenes from that episode that unfortunately had to be cut just for time. There were many conversations within those scenes that did reveal more information about their personal lives. But we’ll get there. Now that they are in a fully committed relationship there will be a lot of pillow talk. (laughs).
Jed: Also, they have been through a lot of obstacles to get together. Now that they are together, the obstacles that usually come when you find someone is the people that come with them and the families. Everything will change. So, we will get into some of that. Yes.
Why did you decide to put Ghost Rider in the middle of the action?
Maurissa: The opportunity presented itself and we said yes.
Jed: We decided when they asked, “Would you like to have Ghost Rider?” That is when we decided.
Maurissa: Yes! And when they said, “You can choose between the different versions of Ghost Rider,” we choose Robbie Reyes (Roberto Reyes) because we wanted to introduce that dynamic on the show. He’s a young Latino who grew up on the streets of East LA, but what will that mean when he encounters our team?
Jed: Also, it’s new and it feels new. We wanted it to feel fresh and different. The guy is going to have a flaming car, too.
Maurissa: If anything, every man that works on our show is so excited about that flaming car. The car is a big deal. (laughs).
With each season, the promotion of the show likes to torture the fans a bit about who is going to die. So how much joy do you get out of seeing the fans in person?
Maurissa: We don’t sit in the writer’s room going “Muahaha!”
Jed: We must destroy you! (laughs).
Maurissa: We basically like to create stories that we are drawn to. There is something more compelling to us about people who have to go through pain and different pains and struggles to come out the other side. And, yes, it does seem like anytime anyone has a moment of joy that we completely take that away from them. Each one of our characters has their own version of a journey. But I think that just leads to stronger relationships and deeper relationships.
Jed: It’s a reflection of life. The show isn’t about some wish-fulfillment. It’s a spy organization and there are planes, but we also wanted to have genuine stakes. When a character goes into a fight scene in episode five and you know that there is eighteen more to come you don’t really believe there are stakes there. You don’t really believe that they are going to get taken out or anything. So, we’re trying to earn the actual fear that something is going to happen. It’s a spy show. The stakes are high and we want them to feel high.
So, all of these decisions are made together with that in mind. Also for us, the things we are drawn to is sort of that bittersweet love. Fitz and Simmons feel so good because other people haven’t had that. So, we think the show is more rewarding because of it. Now, does the Twittersphere believe that? I don’t know. And they certainly let us know about it. And in the panel, this kid who was like six years old…
Maurissa: He wanted to know if we felt bad killing Ward and Lincoln?
Jed: It was the most heartbreaking…
Maurissa: We’re now parents. Our daughter is fourteen months old and that kid…
Jed: Seeing a kid like that go, “You took my dream! My heart isn’t even full-sized yet and you broke it!” It’s just brutal.
Maurissa: We’ll never recover from it.
Jed: So, this year it is just going to be like popsicles and water slides. (laughs) And Ghost Rider.
Don’t miss the Season 4 premiere on Tuesday, September 20!
*Interview was done by TNWU’s on-site SDCC reporter Melissa Kralik