One of ABC's most buzzed-about pilots is easily "S.H.I.E.L.D" and Paul Lee, the network's entertainment president, shared some more information about the Joss Whedon project at the 2013 Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour on Thursday.
Lee said he is "very hopeful" about "S.H.I.E.L.D" being picked up to series after fast-tracking the pilot and praised Whedon's script, noting it had "some great male/female relationships and humor," as well as all the action the superhero genre provides. Lee added that Whedon is "great to work with and very excited to be [back] on television."
ABC is hoping that the show will be accessible to men, women and children, allowing for a co-viewing experience that will "bring the whole family together" the way "Once Upon a Time" has for the network, Lee said.
While ABC was disappointed that the male-skewing "Last Resort" didn't connect with their core female audience, Lee promised that Shawn Ryan has a "great ending" for the series, and that in the future, they'll make more of an effort to ensure their new developments cater to both men and women. "We try to give as much space to our showrunners as possible," Lee said, "[but] that doesn't mean it isn't our job to say 'we do need to make sure we have really engaging and emotional stories to our women audience.' It's not our job to offer solutions ... but it is my job to say 'can you give us more emotion?'" -- something that "Last Resort" apparently couldn't accomplish fast enough.
The HuffPost TV team previously assembled our wish list of actors to populate "S.H.I.E.L.D.," pulling from a pool of the usual Whedonverse suspects and a few fresh faces who we think could tackle the dramatic and action-packed concept, should ABC decide to go ahead with the series.
Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine: Eliza Dushku
Backstabbing and butt-kicking are two of the reasons Eliza Dushku has become a Whedonverse actress close to our hearts. She can pull both off with sexy finesse, which is needed to play S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and sometimes Nick Fury love interest <a href="http://marvel.wikia.com/Valentina_Allegra_de_Fontaine_%28Earth-616%29" target="_hplink">Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine.</a>
Jessica Jones: Amy Acker
ABC was developing a series based on Brian Michael Bendis' "Alias" comics with <a href="http://marvel.wikia.com/Jessica_Jones_%28Earth-616%29" target="_hplink">Jessica Jones</a>, a onetime superhero who gives up the spandex and becomes a private eye. The series has been scrapped, but there's no reason Ms. Jones can't find her way into the "Avengers" world, either as a private eye, or S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Either way, Jessica Jones is a fascinating -- and tortured -- character who is ripe for TV.
Dum-Dum Dugan: Neal McDonough
In the comics, <a href="http://marvel.wikia.com/Timothy_Dugan_%28Earth-616%29" target="_hplink">Dum-Dum Dugan</a> is one of Nick Fury's right-hand men. After originally appearing in "Captain America: The First Avenger," Neal McDonough could reprise the role for Joss Whedon's "S.H.I.E.L.D." series thanks to the use of comic book magic. Example: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s usage of life model decoys, or LMD.
Norman Osborn: Alan Tudyk
No self-respecting comic-book story can function without a bad guy, and Osborn/the Green Goblin certainly qualifies. No character did more to damage S.H.I.E.L.D., which means he could be the basis for a season-long arc (or three), and Tudyk proved in "Dollhouse" that he can play scary, damaged characters very well. Obviously he's got a commitment to ABC's "Suburgatory," but if he's underused again in the upcoming season, we say set him free!
Jimmy Woo: Ken Watanabe
This Asian-American secret agent would work well within the context of a weekly spy-adventure series, and ever since Watanabe reminded us in "Inception" of what a charismatic actor he is, we've wanted to see a lot more of him on our screens. Delving into the "life model decoy" stories that Woo was involved in would also allow Whedon and the writers to explore the kind of identity issues seen in the short-lived Fox drama "Dollhouse."
Daisy Johnson: Amber Benson
Johnson, who in the comics is Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., has the ability to cause seismic activity and once defeated Magneto that way. It's been too long since Benson had a prominent role on television, and the role of Daisy would draw on her strength, range and general ability to kick ass.
Jessica Drew: Summer Glau
Glau, who debuted as a dancer in the "Buffy" spinoff "Angel" before blowing our minds on "Firefly," has the right kind of physicality and grace for the role of Jessica Drew, the original Spider-Woman. After a series of adventures fighting a wide array of bad guys, Drew eventually became a private investigator, meaning she (possibly in combination with a similar character, Jessica Jones) could potentially anchor a weekly drama with procedural overtones.
Carol Danvers: Evan Rachel Wood
Wood proved her dramatic chops at a young age thanks to her breakthrough role in "Thirteen," and after showcasing her kick-ass side in "True Blood," we think there are few young actresses that could pull off Carol Danvers' combination of poise and empowerment as well as she could. In the comics, Major Carol Danvers (AKA Ms. Marvel) has served as executive director of S.H.I.E.L.D. after Nick Fury was deposed, and is a superheroine in her own right after an explosion caused her genetic structure to meld with Captain Marvel's, imbuing her with superhuman strength and flight. Since we're betting ABC doesn't have the budget for a super-powered superhero show, we see Danvers as a respected agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. with aspirations towards leadership.
Sharon Carter: Tricia Helfer
As an integral part of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the occasional girlfriend of Captain America, Carter would be a key part of any TV spinoff, and Helfer proved on "Battlestar Galactica" and in countless guest roles that she has the presence, acting chops and physical ability to play the part of an active field agent with a complicated past. It'd be nice if Hayley Atwell, who played Sharon's aunt Peggy in the "Captain America" movie, wanted to play her own niece in the American drama, but that seems unlikely. Either actress would be a fine addition to the new show, but we'll admit that even the hint of a "BSG"/"Avengers" crossover makes us all tingly.
Marcus Johnson: Michael B. Jordan
Time will tell whether Whedon can lure Samuel L. Jackson back to TV on a regular or recurring basis to reprise the role of Nick Fury, or whether the S.H.I.E.L.D. series will take part in a specific subdivision that can explain the executive director's absence. Either way, we'd like to have our Fury cake and eat it, so rather than recasting, we propose including Marcus Johnson, <a href="http://marvel.wikia.com/Nicholas_Fury,_Jr._(Earth-616)" target="_hplink">Nick Fury's son</a>. Michael B. Jordan stole our hearts in "Friday Night Lights" as a teen who had a somewhat antagonistic relationship with his absentee father, so drafting Johnson in as a new S.H.I.E.L.D. recruit facing accusations of nepotism could be a good way to keep things in the family but stay within ABC's budget.
Clay Quartermain: Teddy Sears
Since Jensen Ackles and Warren Kole are occupied on other shows, we think "American Horror Story" and "Raising the Bar" star Sears is a good alternative for S.H.I.E.L.D agent Clay Quartermain, who is described as a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_Quartermain" target="_hplink">"blond-haired, fast-talking, grinning Burt Lancaster"</a> sort of chap, as well as a former love interest of Jessica Jones. Sears also has Whedonverse credentials, having guest-starred in an episode of "Dollhouse."
Alexander Pierce: Enver Gjokaj
Eagle-eyed "Avengers" fans know that Gjokaj already has a role in the Marvel-verse, thanks to his blink and you'll miss it cameo as a cop in Whedon's movie. Still, Whedon has never been averse to recycling his favorite actors between projects, so we'd love to see the "Dollhouse" alum in "S.H.I.E.L.D." in some capacity. We were torn between this role and the more antagonistic character of <a href="http://marvel.wikia.com/Mitchell_Tanner_(Earth-616)" target="_hplink">Warhawk</a>, but figured that <a href="http://marvel.wikia.com/Alexander_Pierce_%28Earth-616%29" target="_hplink">Alexander Pierce's</a> position as Nick Fury's bodyguard and sleeper agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. was a good fit. Pierce has no superhuman powers in the comics, but is described as a skilled hand-to-hand combatant and marksman, something that we know Gjokaj could sell.
Tony Masters: James Marsters
Maybe it's the similarity in their names, but the villain-turned-S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (or is it the other way round?) known as <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taskmaster" target="_hplink">Taskmaster</a> would be a perfect role for the man who masterfully charted the evolution of Spike throughout "Buffy" and "Angel." Marsters also has experience playing a comic book villain thanks to his stint as Brainiac on "Smallville," and certainly has the charisma and menace to portray an antihero who could later be welcomed back into the agency.
Agent Coulson: Clark Gregg
Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson has been an integral part of the Marvel cinematic universe since his introduction in "Iron Man," and is so beloved by fans that he was retroactively brought into the comics. We still don't know if "S.H.I.E.L.D." will be a prequel or sequel to the events of the "Avengers" movie, but whether Coulson is revealed to be alive, a LMD, or Whedon suddenly introduces Phil's long-lost twin brother Bill, we need to see Clark Gregg in "S.H.I.E.L.D." in some capacity if the show goes to series.
Earlier on HuffPost: