Who has the authority to remove a man
from an agency that doesn’t exist?
In 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), in conjunction with then-Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), disbanded S.H.I.E.L.D. and deemed it unfit to continue. Shortly thereafter, Fury pulled together what assets he could identify as still being loyal to humanity and placed them into the capable hands of a dead man: Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who he had mysteriously brought back to life.
All of those who have followed “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” from the start are aware Fury and his team of scientists used a serum (GH-325) extracted from the corpse of a fallen alien – a Kree (the mysterious race who had experimented on the habitants of earth over 5,000 years ago thereby creating the enigmatic Inhumans). This particular Kree individual was housed in a very large jar in a facility hidden away on a very hard-to-reach mountain – the jar had numerous tubes leading away from it draining off the bodily fluids of the remains of the alien.
Fury never bothered to tell Rogers (or the U.S. Government) that he had resurrected S.H.I.E.L.D. and that Coulson (who was considered very, very… dead) had been appointed to lead the remnants of the once-mighty organization. This led to some interesting story lines whereby Hydra used that information to undermine the agency and to throw the authorities off their own trail.
At the conclusion of the Season Three Finalé, viewers were treated to a “time-skip” of six months which showed Phil Coulson and Agent Alphonso ‘Mack’ Mackenzie (Henry Simmons - no relation to Jemma) tracking down a now-rogue Quake (Daisy Johnson played by Chloë Bennet) reporting back that they had failed to apprehend Daisy and that they would have to “let the Director know”, effectively announcing to the world that Phil’s position had been yanked and given to someone else.
Now, Who Could That Someone Else Be?
Who Won't It Be?
It won't be: Steve Rogers, Clint Barton (Hawkeye, portrayed by Jeremy Renner) or Natasha Romanova (Black Widow by Scarlett Johannson). Steve and Clint both took an anti-government stance and likely won’t be considered for the position (provided the government is the responsible party for “taking over” S.H.I.E.L.D. and demoting our beloved Coulson) and knowledge of Natasha’s subterfuge in passing closely held information over to Steve and his renegade Avengers will probably prevent the Black Widow from being considered.
That... and, the fact she's a former Russian super spy who dumped years of super-secret, extremely-high-intelligence data onto the Internet in that Captain America movie I mentioned above...
She... won't get the job.
Let’s start with possible individuals to whom we’ve already been exposed either in the movies or in the television shows. Keep in mind, movie characters will have to transition from Kevin Feige’s cinematic domain and would then come under the jurisdiction of Jeph Loeb and his Television Division. That may be a huge hurdle, if reports are anywhere near accurate regarding the rift between the two. But, we’ll take a look at them, anyway.
There is a lot of push and not a small amount of shove upon the Marvel Universe to diversify their MCU and television portfolio. So, Let’s start with the women:
Melinda May / The Cavalry (Ming-Na Wen)
The most obvious choice would be someone from within the group itself...
Or, maybe not. Logistically, Melinda May could be lumped in with Coulson as someone who President Matthew Ellis (William Sadler) cannot trust. Her fidelity to her Director and to the organization may disqualify her.
But, there’s also the possibility Phil decided, on his own, to step down and hand the agency off to someone who he doesn’t feel has let everyone down – the state of mind Phil currently cultivates for himself. And, since Mack is with him in the time-skip scene, we can eliminate the most recent team member to hold the Director's position not named Coulson.
The most obvious choice to succeed Phil, would be May. Phil trusts her and her knowledge of the institution – and her skill set is unsurpassed.
But, where is her devotion? Over the past couple of seasons, we’ve come to see May as having been even more loyal to Nick Fury and working for him in observing Coulson as he dealt with the psychosis related to his being injected with the GH-325 serum that brought him back to life.
She is also dealing with the loss of her soul-mate and husband, Dr. Andrew Garner (Blair Underwood) who was transitioned by the Terrigen-laced fish oil capsules into the murderous, and ultimately heroic, Lash (Matthew Willig). At the end of Season Two, Andrew and Melinda had taken a leave of absence from S.H.I.E.L.D. to clear their heads. It didn’t seem to get any better through Season Three.
And, she has gotten more and more critical of the way Phil has handled the agency and its populace. But, then again, that may be exactly why she would take the job.
√√ Melinda checks off two boxes in the “Diversity Checklist” as she is both a female and Chinese. Plus, she absolutely rocks, so there's that...
Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)
Maria Hill makes sense on a number of levels: She is trusted by Tony Stark (Iron Man played by Robert Downey, Jr.) who sided with the government in enforcing the Sokovia Accords. And, she has the backing of the Feds who would want to shackle S.H.I.E.L.D. and bring it back under their massive thumb.
As a bonus, she is a former agent herself! She is well-trained, highly-skilled, charismatic, brilliant – and, the actress is a fan favorite across multiple platforms in the MCU as well as on other highly-rated television productions.
She is also trusted by Phil Coulson. It’s possible, should S.H.I.E.L.D. still be an independent (non-government) organization, that Phil might have reached out to her to take over while he steps back and re-evaluates his own story within the organization.
√ And, she's a woman. And, she rocks...
Anne Weaver (Christine Adams)
Agent Weaver was the Director of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy of Science & Technology prior to the eruption of Hydra from out of the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D. As a high-level member of the organization already, she is eminently qualified to step into the position of Director of the Agency.
Her story was completely dropped for Season Three as the fractures within S.H.I.E.L.D. were addressed and the man to whom she had pledged allegiance (Director Robert Gonzales played by Edward J. Olmos) died at the hands of Daisy’s mom, Jiaying (Dichen Lachman) at the end of Season Two.
Christine was excellent in the role while she was at the Academy; however, as a follower of Gonzales, her personality seemed muted – as if the writers really had no interest in her other than to stock the Director’s staff with at least one known member of the organization other than Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird played by Adrianne Palicki) and the now-deceased Agent Isabelle 'Izzy' Hartley (Lucy Lawless).
If they brought back the original Agent Weaver and not the light fog that served as a founding member of the Governing Board of S.H.I.E.L.D. under Gonzales, she would make an awesome Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
√√ Anne checks off two boxes in the “Diversity Checklist” as she is both a female and African-American.
Sharon Carter / Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp)
Sharon Carter is the grand-niece of the founder of S.H.I.E.L.D., Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). She is also a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who has since transitioned over to the CIA and would be familiar with the processes, policies and routines.
Unfortunately, she is also known to be friendly with renegade former super-soldier, Steve Rogers.
And, logistically, she falls under the demesne of Kevin Feige and the Cinematic (movie) Establishment.
So, that would be two heavy strikes against her. On the plus side, Stark (and the pro-government decision-makers) may not know of her involvement in getting Rogers the information on the location of Steve’s old buddy, Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier played by Sebastian Stan).
And, if S.H.I.E.L.D. is still a freelance operation working independent of the government, she could have been approached by Coulson either from previous acquaintance or at the urging of Maria Hill who may not have wanted the position.
Emily VanCamp is familiar with television having starred in several television serae (including headlining in Revenge also on ABC). Now, if she can just slip away from Feige…
√ And, she's a woman.
If you can think of another female character / actress who would be great as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Phil’s absence, mention her in the comments below
(be sure and peruse the rest of this story as there's one more hidden away for later!).
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)
Nick is an obvious choice. Perhaps Phil just called him up and said, “I can’t handle it, anymore”. Or, maybe Nick took a look at Coulson’s operation and decided it needed some cleaning up and stepped in to restructure things a bit.
Or, maybe Tony Stark was approached by President Ellis and U.S. Secretary of State, Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (William Hurt), and asked by them to appoint someone to bring S.H.I.E.L.D. into “compliance” with the U.S. Government and the Sokovia Accords and to make them answerable to those institutions.
Stark, knowing Fury and his previous involvement with S.H.I.E.L.D. could have approached the former Director with an offer that, should he refuse, could result in the incarceration of all of his former friends and associates.
So, if you know of any other “ethnic” entry I’ve overlooked – hit the comments below and fill me in.
√ in the ethnicity box if you want – just give me more Nick Fury!
Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.)
Tony would be another obvious choice. He did serve as Director in the comics for a while. And, he has this enormous need to be in control – especially when the forces in question have the potential to shatter the planet into large rocks and no small amount of dust.
This would require RDJ to step down from his lofty perch as a movie star of a caliber few have achieved and take up residence in a weekly series with daily shoots and constant rehearsals and planning.
Tony Stark may be an obvious choice… but, Robert Downey, Jr.? Probably not.
However, if Tony were to be named Director for only the first handful of episodes while the President and the Secretary sort through candidates, it’s possible Downey could wander into the episodic adventure we all love. Just for a short time… it’s be a nice diversion for that huge ego.
He wouldn’t check off any diversity boxes, but he is a huge star in the MCU.
Lieutenant General Thaddeus E. ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (William Hurt)
Gen. Ross would be an intriguing appointment as Director. It would necessitate his resigning as Secretary of State and… I really don’t see that happening.
But, it’s a possibility, so it needs to be addressed.
General Ross has his own agenda. He chased “The Incredible Hulk” all over the planet as the military liaison responsible for the scientific operations of Dr. Robert Bruce Banner (Hulk played then by Edward Norton and since by Mark Ruffalo). ‘Thunderbolt’ desperately wants to have a weapon the scale of The Hulk in his arsenal – there's power in weapons like that! He tried to create one of his own with Emil Blonsky (The Abomination played by Tim Roth), but failed disastrously and half of Harlem was made into pebbles.
Now, he is attempting to bring The Avengers under his control and is getting resistance from Captain America, himself. Abandoning the President’s Cabinet to seize control of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be a move that would decidedly be in character for for a man with his ego and desires.
He wouldn't assuage any of the "diversity angst", but, then, there’s…
Dr. Betty Ross (Liv Tyler)
From the “bolt of out the blue” category, Secretary Ross has a daughter, Betty Ross who is also brilliant, a scientist, a professor and very capable a manager in her own right. And, being his daughter, she would (of course!) do what he wants and she would give him control of this rag-tag operation through her. Daughters always do what Daddy wants... right? (Does your daughter do that?)
In a stroke of genius, Marvel could set up such a scenario then have the team that we trust and care about win her over to their side by mid-season! The stories this appointment could generate are abundant and rich with interconnections to other parts of the MCU.
√ And, she’s a woman!
Any of the Koenig Brothers (Patton Oswalt)
Eric is dead, having been killed off by turncoat Grant Ward (Brett Dalton – the character who eventually became the host for the Super Inhuman, Hive). But, according to his brothers, Billy and Sam, there are (or were) thirteen of the Koenig brothers.
And, they have at least one sister.
Eric was placed in charge of one of Fury’s secret safe houses he had scattered about the globe (his was in Canada). Sam and Billy were also Level 6 S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who Fury trusts. It is speculated they were all Life Model Decoys (L.M.D.), but there would have to have been an original human from which they were created.
And, who wouldn’t want to see more Patton Oswalt?
Trouble is, the 'Koenig' story line was completely dropped after Season Two. Bringing him back, now, as Director would require some pretty serious story line massaging.
And, there's no acknowledgement for diversity. Still... dudes! It's PATTON OSWALT!!!
So, there you have it. There are any number of existing MCU characters who could be elevated to Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Coulson’s stead. And, they could be placed there for any number of reasons.
We still don’t know if Phil stepped down voluntarily so he could devote all of his attention to finding his adoptive daughter, Skye (who has since become Daisy Johnson and Quake). If so, the person he selects would still be amenable to staying off the radar of the U.S. Government (any government for that matter) and for keeping S.H.I.E.L.D. and its operatives pretty much intact as it is currently constructed.
We don’t know if the U.S. Government has stepped in and seized control of the organization. If they did, has it been combined with the Alien Threat Containment Unit (A.T.C.U. – created to take the place of S.H.I.E.L.D. but was, ultimately, found to be in the hands and dominion of Hydra)? Is that a stench that will be abandoned? Or, will the A.T.C.U. continue going forward?
We also don’t know if it wasn’t just Stark, in concert with Maria Hill, who discovered S.H.I.E.L.D. was still in operation and, using the influence inherited from his father, Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper on television, John Slattery in the movies and, very briefly, Gerard Sanders). Stark’s desire to control dangerous forces so they can’t hurt innocent people would dictate such a move. But, it’s still not known if Stark even realizes S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to exist.
And, it could have just been Nick Fury deciding it’s time for him to get back to work.
Whatever the reason, we do know Phil Coulson is, at the start of Season Four, no longer the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and his hand-picked successor, Mack, was not the one appointed to take his place.
Hey! Wait! There’s one other to consider!
Tomas Calderon (Kirk Acevedo)
Agent Calderon, like Agent Ann Weaver, Agent Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird played by Adrianne Palicki), and deceased members Agents "Izzy" Hartley (Lucy Lawless) and Oliver (Mark Allen Stewart) was a ranking member of Robert Gonzalez' S.H.I.E.L.D. Advisory Board. He has not been seen nor heard since Quake blasted him and Morse late in Season Two. He was injured attempting to murder the newly-minted Inhuman after being told to use “icers” rather than real bullets.
Bobbi was furious with him, Daisy was severely frightened by his action and Coulson probably didn’t feel his actions warranted any medals.
But, suppose Agent Calderon, who would have connections of his own, sought out Secretary Ross and convinced him Coulson and his agents had a hand in the death of Robert Gonzales – ostensibly so there would be no question as to the reporting structure of the organization – Phil's the Man.
Suppose Agent Calderon has gained, through subterfuge, the trust of the government and has gotten himself named Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. promising to bring authority and cohesiveness to a vagabond, fractured organization that had, under Nick Fury, led the war on destructive beings in order to protect the “ordinary” citizens of the world.
Now, there are some story lines that could be explored.
√ in the ethnicity box, too! He's no Eddie Olmos, but he could be the next Grant Ward!
There is some serious fun.
And, There is One More to Consider
Current Director Phil Coulson
Another scene tagged onto the end of the Season Finale was Dr. Radcliffe's flirtations with LMDs. Perhaps he was successful and those "agents" we saw trying to track down Daisy were both Life Model Decoys created by Radcliffe so his "friends" wouldn't be exposed to more dangers than are necessary?
And, the "Director" to whom he was about to report... was himself.
Well, apparently, it is someone from completely outside the group we knew. With the Sokovia Accords needing administrative agencies, it looks like the U.S. Government has reactivated S.H.I.E.L.D. and this new guy may be their appointment as the Director of their resumed operations under the agency of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Jason O'Mara (“Complications,” “The Good Wife”) has been assigned the role (which, as yet, has not been given a character name - only that the character "has roots in 1940's Marvel comics). And, since they have not yet released the character's name, it is likely the name will be known in the Marvel community.
Now, whether this character is from the 1940s or just a (great-)grandson of a 1940s character is yet to be specified. There are some guesses it is the original Sgt. Nick Fury (grandfather of the Samuel L. Jackson version of Nick Fury and an original member of the Howling Commandos) or, possibly, Jim Hammonds, the original Human Torch.
Stay Tuned, Marvelites!