By Darren Franich
May 13, 2013 at 07:34 PM EDT
  • TV Show

ABC has officially greenlit Joss Whedon’s Avengers spinoff-showcase TV show. It’s called Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but it should just be called Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and we’re all just going to call it S.H.I.E.L.D. anyway, and because periods are annoying henceforth let’s just do SHIELD. Now, let’s not front here. I don’t know anything about SHIELD. You don’t know anything about SHIELD. ABC released an official plot summary with official descriptions of all the main characters; but this being a Whedon-joint about mysterious spies with mysterious pasts, we should read anything official with a skeptical eye.

Here’s what we do know about SHIELD. It will be set in the same universe as Avengers. It will feature SHIELD agents investigating superpowered happenings. Some of these superpowered happenings may feature minor characters from the Marvel universe. And the pilot episode features this guy:

The short thirty-second promo for SHIELD only has two appearances by that guy, who’s played by Whedonverse alum J. August Richards. We can see that he has superstrength (he flips a guy around superstrongly) and also some amount of super-invulnerability (he jumps from the sixth floor of a burning building and survives.) Now, it’s entirely possible that this is a brand new character created by Whedon and his writing partners. Heck, it’s entirely possible that SHIELD will only feature entirely new characters. It would be wrong to assume that every character who appears on SHIELD is a character from Marvel’s back catalogue.

But let’s just assume, for a second, that this guy is somebody from Marvel’s history. (The fact that J. August Richards has been quite explicitly not saying who he’s playing certainly indicates that. Where’s there’s smoke…) The most popular theory online is that this is Luke Cage, Harlem superhero with superstrength, unbreakable skin, and dynamite fashion sense. Like all essentially baseless theories, the Luke Cage hypothesis is based partially on magical thinking and extremely ambient data points. The guy in the trailer is strong and invulnerable; he’s played by an African-American actor, and Cage was one of the first major African-American superheroes; Cage wore lots of yellow back in the ’70s, and the guy appears to be wearing yellow-ish pants in this shot:

Matthias Clamer/Warner Bros

However! As pointed out by Chris Radtke (with a hat tip to io9), the Marvel Studios bumper at the start of the SHIELD promo could be pointing to a different superstrong/invulnerable hero: Rage of the New Warriors, a teenager who was exposed to toxic waste and transformed into a fully grown man. Basically, think Big, but with more superpowers. Rage seems more likely, if only because the root of his character — young boy in adult’s body — seems more intrinsically Whedonesque.

Again, both of these theories are based on incredibly circumstantial evidence. It’s entirely possible that the character in SHIELD is a new interpretation of a character from deep in the Avengers roster, like Demolition Man or Wonder Man or some other dude with vaguely defined powers and a backstory that could easily be retconned into Marvel’s onscreen universe. He could also be an entirely new character. Heck, SHIELD could be a secret spinoff of Dollhouse! And on that note, we conclude this edition of Baseless Theory Zone. Check back throughout the summer for more Baseless SHIELD Theories, including the ever-popular “Agent Coulsen is really Kang the Conqueror” hypothesis.

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

Read More:

It’s a go: ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ series order

‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ first trailer is here!

Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases.
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  • 07/19/13
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