[Editor's Note: March kicks off a season of big-time showdowns, grudge matches and maybe a few team-ups. Infamous as the month when Brutus betrayed Caesar, March will get even more epic because Batman will take on Superman on the big screen, Daredevil will get company in Hell's Kitchen in the form of The Punisher on Netflix, and The Flash shall race on over to CBS to meet Supergirl. And, of course, just a few weeks after this kickoff, we'll see a breakdown in the friendship between Captain America and Iron Man in Marvel's Civil War movie. Because we love seeing a good battle between titans, we've dedicated March to versus. Over the next four weeks, check this space for stories on title fights in superhero stories, horror, science and more!]
A civil war is headed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but not all the key players are Avengers. While Captain America, Iron Man and the rest of earth’s mightiest heroes fight over a super hero registration act The Sokovia Accords on the big screen, Agent Phil Coulson and his S.H.I.E.L.D. team are getting pulled into a similar conflict on TV.
When it returned from winter hiatus last Tuesday, the third season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC continued exploring the intricacies of a world populated by super-powered Inhumans -- some good, some bad -- and how they can (or should) coexist alongside humans. What’s more, the back half of the season appears poised to delve into the disagreements and potential fractures within Coulson’s army over the issue.
With Captain America: Civil War premiering May 6, 2016, I wanted to know where the cast think their characters would stand. On a recent set visit with a small group of journalists, I posed the question: Team Cap or Team Iron Man?
The answers range from humorous to thoughtful, with Coulson himself, actor Clark Gregg, having the final, nuanced word on the conflict and how Civil War might impact the series storyline.
Team Cap or Team Iron Man?
Ming-Na Wen ("Melinda May"): Who is closer to Thor? [laughs] That’s my go-to.
Nick Blood ("Lance Hunter"): Team Hunter. I don’t know that Hunter would involve himself with that sort of politics.
Would he be on the side placing bets?
Blood: Yeah, yeah.
Luke Mitchell ("Lincoln Campbell"): Or, he’d be a bookie.
Henry Simmons ("Mack"): I think my guy would be against ... I don’t know. [to Hunter} You answered the question better. I want to think about it more.
Mitchell: The easy answer is Lincoln wants to be a part of S.H.I.E.L.D., so, as long as Coulson is the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., and I’m sure he’s on Team Cap ... therefore, Lincoln would be on Team Cap.
Henry Simmons: Hmmm ... I’m trying to think. Yeah, I’ll roll with that. Yeah.
Iain De Caestecker ("Leo Fitz"): You would expect Fitz, I think, to be on the side of technology and stuff. But ... I feel like ... [To Simmons] what do you think?
Elizabeth Henstridge ("Jemma Simmons"): I think Simmons would be Iron Man, right? I think you would be Cap. Right?
To be fair, there is a third option since Nick said he’s Team Hunter.
Henstridge: Oh no, it wouldn’t be that!
So that was Cap …
De Caestecker: No, you said Iron Man …
Henstridge: I think Simmons is Iron Man. Iron Man is the one ...
De Caestecker: I think we’re both Iron Man ...
You definitely put him on the side of Cap, and he didn’t stop yo u…
Henstridge: I changed my mind ...
De Caestecker: Wait, I was Cap, or what?
You said the side of tech, leaning towards Iron Man...
De Caestecker: Yeah.
Henstridge: Maybe she’d be Cap, then.
De Caestecker: Why would you be for ...
Iron Man is for the registration of super heroes...
Henstridge: Oh, right. Iron Man, then. I always get confused. But would you be Iron Man? I don’t know if you’d be Iron Man. You’re nicer than that.
De Caestecker: Yeah, I’m probably jealous of him. I’d probably be Cap.
Where would Ward/Hive stand in Civil War?
Brett Dalton ("Grant Ward"/"Hive"): I think he’d stand up over the titles in Civil War, and it’d just be him! That’s personally where I think he’d stand. No, that’s a good question. I actually am not as familiar with the Civil War movie until I see it. I know there are teams, obviously. So, there’s super heroes fighting each other. But I’m not sure exactly who is on the Iron Man team, or the Captain America and Bucky team. And I think there is more that we don’t maybe see in the trailer.
Iron Man is for the Super Hero Registration Act, and Cap is against ...
Dalton: OK, thank you for explaining this! Well then, registration act...I’d have to side with Cap. Brett would side for that. Hive, on the other hand, I don’t know where he would stand. In some ways, you’re having humans...I don’t know, it could just be something like, “Oh, the humans are fighting again.” Maybe he’s even above that. The guy has been around for centuries, so I think he has a scope, a perspective that is well beyond what a normal person would have. Even a century to him is nothing.
Chloe Bennet ("Daisy 'Skye' Johnson"): I’d be with Team Cap. Because she’s Inhuman. Again, it’s one of those things where it’s a tricky...it’s kind of a hard conversation. We have had discussions. We have had some tough, hard-hitting scenes on what does accepting people with powers, or mutants, or Inhumans – what does that mean? We have kind of equated it to something of the LGBT community. They are a group of people that lots of people may not understand, and some people don’t agree with it. But it is who they are. It is the way they’re born. It is their blood. But, at the same time, it brings in the debate over guns. These are also people who have very dangerous powers. They can be dangerous, so it is a really tricky situation. And both sides have the right to their opinion. But one side doesn’t necessarily mean it is right. It is not black and white. It is hard to play sometimes, and hard to kind of figure out where we stand. But I think we have accepted there is no black and white, and picking a side isn’t as easy as it may seem.
A couple years ago, Coulson was Team Cap, but is he still? Would Coulson now have evolved into something else?
Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson): It’s a good question. I don’t know, yet. I haven’t seen the film. I think you’re right. The Coulson from some of the earlier films, especially, would have just been, “Wherever Steve Rogers goes, I’m going to be there with my cards, and at some point, I’m going to get them signed.”
But I think what’s amazing about doing this character for 70 episodes of television, and putting him at the lead of a no-longer-existing S.H.I.E.L.D. that’s hunted around the world, is you get a very different perspective. What I love about what the writers have done is that, rather than wait for something to cross over from one of the movies, they just exploded terragenesis around the world, and set up Secret Warriors and an Inhuman outbreak that’s different, frankly, from what’s in the comics I ever read. So, now, he’s having to deal with something that feels very topical. There are suddenly people evolving very differently than the rest of us, and there are forces in the world who want to exploit those people. There are forces in the world who want to exterminate those people. And here’s Coulson with a person who may be the closest thing he has to family, and she’s one of them. And he’s getting closer to more people like that. At the same time, some of the most terrifying threats to the person he cares most about are other Inhumans. I don’t know, that feels topical at the moment.
I guess this goes back to try and answer your question. There are a lot of people saying very simple solutions to problems right now that seem to get people very fired up. It is usually about identifying one group, and then making everyone else “the other.” The other is a threat. Everyone I know, and am fortunate enough to meet, who has worked in the military or in police work, don’t see it that way. The people you admire who do those jobs. Because when you get into the actual, practical logistics of that stuff, you see yourself in everyone. And there are no easy answers like that. I think it is going to depend -- at such time as ever that Coulson has to actually deal with what’s going on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – what has happened here between now and then. “Here” is really where his focus is on now...
The days are coming where we’ll need to know exactly where everyone who is Inhuman, who has crossed our path, where they are as we try to sort out if they are going to be friend or foe. That is our version of Civil War, I think. I am just guessing as someone who is watching what’s going on here...
Sometimes I think, I’m glad I’m not writing on this show. I would not know how to get out of this. It feels to me, there won’t just be some easy answer. I think, very soon, we get a script that will be the episode that airs pretty close to when the film is coming out. I’ll probably get some hints when I see that about what’s going on. But I suspect this world where there are Inhumans is here to stay. That’s a development that’s happening in our part of this world, and it seems like there’s a lot to play with. I suspect that will be the world we live in now, and I am afraid of the way that’s going to tear us apart, and has probably only begun to be seen.