When we spoke to Agents Of SHIELD executive producers Jeph Loeb and Jeff Bell at San Diego Comic Con, the announcement had just been made that season seven would be the Marvel show’s final outing, but even though season 6 still has an exciting conclusion in the near future, Loeb and Bell wanted to reassure fans that when the ending does come, they’ll be ready.
What are things that you think are necessary when you are ending something that has been going on for seven seasons?
Jeph Loeb: We try to tell stories that are very satisfying. And obviously there are going to be people who those things work for, and there’s gonna be those people that it’s not going to work for. But you can’t ever think about that.
Jeff Bell: No, it’ll work for everyone! It’ll work for everyone!
Loeb: There you go! A bold statement from Jeff Bell, showrunner! It’s a very emotionally satisfying ending. We also don’t have to explain the island.
Bell: There’s no super heavy lifting.
Loeb: Yes, exactly. There’s no who’s going to win the [Iron Throne], which Stark? We don’t have any of those problems.
Bell: And our lead character already died at the end of season five. So we don’t have to play that card… On other shows I’ve been on, it’s the same thing. I mean, Angel was —
Loeb: You wrote the Angel ending!
Bell: Joss [Whedon] and I wrote that. But the idea is the show ends but the characters go on. In that case, the last line of that show, which Joss said from the beginning, is, “Let’s get to work.” And so it was ending with: there’s a whole life that goes on. And I feel like SHIELD will always go on with us or not. And so just finding nice ways to leave our characters emotionally so that people go, “Oh, I’m happy for them,” or, “Oh, that makes my heart hurt.”
How do you hope that Shield will be remembered because it’s really spanned this interesting time in pop culture even just within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What do you hope people remember about it or what it did?
Loeb: Well, we were the first ones through the door in terms of Marvel television, so that was a big responsibility. The movies were as giant as they could be.
Bell: Well, no, then they got bigger.
Loeb: Exactly! But at that time Avengers was the biggest movie of all time. It was just this giant thing, and we came out of that world. Coulson had died in that movie, came back on our show, and [we were] overcoming a lot of hurdles at the beginning, which was, despite the fact that our ad line was, “Not all heroes are super,” there was a very strong and vocal group of people that were like, “So when’s Iron Man on the show? So when’s the Hulk on the show?” And we were like, “Never! How’s that?”
Bell: They have a different idea of everything being connected than we do. Like it doesn’t mean that Captain America walks in episode three. Because that’s not going to happen. But I would say the show reflects, I think, what people want a family to be. And, I think that at the end of the day, though there is a lot of darkness in it, this show is hope. There are a lot of shows with anti-heroes. I feel like our characters are heroes! They fail a lot, but to me, a hero is a guy who gets beat up and goes to work the next day. She’s someone who takes it and just [says], “Okay, I have to try again tomorrow.” And I feel our characters do that.
Loeb: The thing that I am surely most proud of is that when we come to a place like Comic-Con, the number of families, particularly dads and their kids: this was a way that they connected. This was the show that they found time for. And we got moved all over the ABC schedule so at a certain point, people were just recording the show and watching the show, which is why we have so many fans. But the number of people who embrace the show as part of their family: it was part of their weekly ritual. I’m sorry, I am speaking of it like it’s in the past. It’s actually still going on and season six builds to this spectacular two hour ending, and then there’s another whole season that is still to come. So it’s gonna be great.
Read our spoiler-filled season six reviews here.