One of the most compelling stories on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is J. August Richards’ iconic take on Marvel baddie Deathlok, and now the man himself has opened up about what inspired him.
Richards conducted a fascinating interview with Marvel, talking about which comics he studied after getting the role and what informed his take on the character. The TV writers put a new spin on the character with the Mike Peterson alter ego, though a lot of the arc seems to have been inspired by comic version Michael Collins.
Apparently the 1990s Deathlok-focused limited series was a big part of the equation for Richards, and he was inspired by how the character was at war with his more evil, cybernetic parts. Considering that we hope he’ll eventually join the good guys on S.H.I.E.L.D., as he does in the comics, that’s encouraging.
Here’s an excerpt from Richards' comments:
“On Comixology, I read the four-issue limited series [from 1990]. It was the Michael Collins version, and it was the one where he was married and he had a son as well. He was working for this company and he found out that they were making weapons and he didn’t agree with that, so he approached the boss and then they turned him into the Deathlok character. That was the one that I read the most.
I got a lot from that. That character is more at war with a machine. Yes, he was being controlled by the bad guy, the Roxxon Corporation, but that character was more communicating with the computer that was a part of his body. [Then] he overrode the system and was able to tell the computer what he wanted to do. I took that idea of warring with something, [which] was kind of thematically similar with what we were doing in terms of me being at war with Garrett [the Clairvoyant, played by Bill Paxton] or being in conflict with what he was asking me to do.
Visually, too, looking at the art in the comic was also helpful to me because I found [in] a lot of the panels the character has this frown. You know that specific frown where the edges of your lips go down? I really tried my best to get that look in there as much as possible. I didn’t want to make myself overly self-conscious about it, but I did notice that there was a certain expression that I really wanted to try and capture.”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesday nights on ABC, with the season finale set for May 13.
Have you been digging Richards’ take on the character?