The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast had a lot to answer for at this year’s New York Comic Con panel. Two episodes into season 4, the show looks completely different than it has before. Coulson’s team is scattered across different assignments, S.H.I.E.L.D. has a brand new director, and these scientific specialists are now coming face-to-face with dark magic and ghosts — including none other than Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna). There are lots of questions in the air, so when cast members Clark Gregg, Chloe Bennet, and Luna stopped by the show’s New York Comic Con panel on Friday night, they attempted to answer some. Here are five things we learned.
1. How Ghost Rider comes to life
There are few cooler-looking superheroes than Ghost Rider. It’s hard to beat the combo of black motorcycle jacket and flaming skull head. That coolness has translated to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. version thanks to the work of the special effects team led by Mark Kolpack, but as Luna explained, his side of it is a little less glamorous.
“It’s kind of goofy-looking,” Luna said. “They put a big shroud on my head, like a motorcycle shroud. It used to have a skull on it, so I felt cool and scary but then they cut out the skull parts and put more dots on my face to track my facial expressions. And then I wear this bib.”
“It’s a cool bib, bro. Top three bibs I’ve ever seen,” Gregg joked.
2. Coulson might like being back in the field
One of the biggest changes from season 3 to 4 has been Phil Coulson’s demotion from director of S.H.I.E.L.D. back to field agent. Coulson seems okay with this new status quo (or at least not as mad about it as May), but he’s always been hard to read. Gregg elaborated on his character’s feelings and his bubbling tensions with new director Jeffrey Mace (Jason O’Mara).
When he became a director, he was sending teams up into dark alleys and not really helping. I think he started to miss the days of being an agent,” Gregg said. “To a certain extent he’s relieved to be back in the field, but he has to turn S.H.I.E.L.D. over to someone else, and this guy seems more interested in focus groups than the history of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
3. Don’t count on Daisy finding a new lover anytime soon
It’s a tight race among Coulson’s team for the title of “most tortured love life,” but Daisy certainly has a strong case. Her first love interest, Grant Ward, turned out to be a Hydra double agent and then got his body taken over by an evil alien god with an octopus face; her second, Lincoln Campbell, ended up sacrificing himself to stop said evil god in the season 3 finale. Although episode 2 of this season ended with Daisy teaming up with Robbie to hunt some ghosts, Bennet said not to count on their relationship escalating in the near future.
“As much as I would love Daisy to find a lover, I don’t know if that’s necessarily in the cards,” Bennet said.
Though as Gregg pointed out, Robbie is already dead, which eliminates one big deal-breaker.
4. This season’s tone is full of regret
Season 3 tied up a lot of plot threads that had built up over the show’s first few years, and in doing so racked up a bit of a body count. As a result, season 4 has had to introduce several new characters and challenges, and Coulson’s team has had to face that while still recovering from their previous losses.
“It’s about mournfulness and regret,” Gregg said of season 4’s new tone. “You can’t lose core people like Rosalind Price and Lincoln Campbell and Andrew Garner and not be changed. These are friends of ours. There’s a lot of loss and regret, and it’s about bouncing back from that and trying to figure out this new S.H.I.E.L.D.”
5. Why the show’s cast loves coming back to New York
In the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, S.H.I.E.L.D. has a strong connection to New York. Coulson’s team was formed in the first place to deal with the kind of metahuman threats that started emerging in the wake of the Chitauri invasion of New York seen in The Avengers (though they have not, as yet, crossed paths with the street-level heroes emerging in Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem — “stay tuned,” Jeph Loeb said in response to an audience question about that). As Gregg explained, the show’s real-life cast and crew also feels connected to New York.
“When we finished The Avengers, I was very much dead,” Gregg said. “I missed Phil Coulson, but I went on with my life. Then I got a call from Joss [Whedon] and Jeph and came here to New York for a farewell video that became our announcement for the series. So it feels like our show was born here, and we always love coming here.”