1. Agent Ward is serious, but he’s got a fun side, too. Honest!
So far, we’ve seen Agent Grant Ward do a lot of scowling, but Dalton insists his character has a great sense of humor. “He is a very, on the surface, serious, straight-laced, razor’s edge kind of a guy. He’s the kind of guy who makes his bed every morning and it’s military crisp, and has a Spartan-like living situation that’s perfectly clean,” Dalton said, before suggesting we look deeper into Ward. “I always thought he was funny and I never saw him as serious, and I never played him as serious. I saw the humor in it from the very beginning.”
2. And he will be opening up, at least a little.
“I think he’s learning to trust in the team more and other people more, and that’s a big step,” Dalton said of Ward moving toward being a little less of an island.
3. There is a Ward-centric episode on the horizon.
“There are a couple of episodes that emphasize one character maybe a little more than others, and there’s one coming up that emphasizes Ward,” Dalton teased. “You get to know a little bit more about his past.” As it turns out, that serious demeanor isn’t something Ward was born with. “He’s not the way he is for nothing,” Dalton continued. “He is that straight laced and buttoned up because his life has led him to that point.”
4. While Ward is the muscle of the group, Dalton still has no idea what he’s doing.
“None of the action was involved in the audition, and so, I think they just kind of assumed that I could do it all, and they still assume that I can do it all,” Dalton said. “And I just don’t want to say no. They keep writing in this really cool and crazy stuff for me to do, and I just keep saying, ‘Yeah, sure, I can do that.’” Fingers crossed!
5. Hook-ups are almost definitely going to happen.
I mean, let’s be realistic. “You do have an attractive cast, trapped in an airplane sleeping next to each other. I think that there will be certain missions that bring people closer together,” Dalton said. “And I think you may see certain relationships that are already planted — you may see them watered in the future.” Agent Ward and Skye, maybe? Still, Dalton cautioned, don’t expect this show to become all about the romance. “I don’t think we’re gonna beat anyone over the head with it,” he said. “It’s not a soap opera.”
6. Yes, there is also a very real possibility of death.
The stakes are high when you’re dealing with superheroes and alien technology. Also, this is a Joss Whedon show, and there’s nothing he loves more than breaking our hearts with some shocking character deaths. As for Dalton, he’s not too worried — yet. “I guess it’s a possibility, but we’re still early on so I hope it doesn’t happen next episode,” he said. “I don’t know. I haven’t gotten the script.” And even if he were to die, that’s not necessarily a permanent thing. “Coulson is a fantastic example of somebody dying and not really dying,” Dalton noted. “There’s always that possibility as well now that we’re in this universe.”
7. Speaking of Coulson, don’t expect the mystery of his resurrection to be solved any time soon.
“They’re dangling that carrot for as long as they can,” Dalton said. Seriously, even he doesn’t know. “We do get a couple more hints, but I’ll be honest, man: We’re shooting Episode 8 now and I don’t know any more about it. It’s not like it’s been dropped and I have to keep my mouth shut. I think they are being very careful about when and how much, and they’re trickling it right now … I think they have faith that we have that time to build those relationships and to tease that mystery out for longer because we’re hopefully gonna be on the air that long.”
8. And Dalton cares — because he’s a total nerd.
Yep, he loves comics as much as you do. “I used to go all the time to the comic book store with my dad, a lot actually,” Dalton said. One of the first comics he bought with his own money was X-Men, with memorable Wolverine slash marks on the cover. And his geekery doesn’t stop there: “I still have action figures in their original packaging.”
9. But that doesn’t mean he’s not doing his research.
“One of the first things my manager gave me was the Marvel Encyclopedia,” Dalton said. “It’s nice to look over those things and get those backstories.” Nice, but also really overwhelming.
10. But the biggest nerd in the cast? That would be Clark Gregg, obviously.
“He’s pretty good with that stuff,” Dalton said of Gregg. And that may be an understatement. Turns out Gregg is knowledgeable about pretty much everything. “He’s always up on all the latest music and singing a little Miley song or something like that, but never in a way that feels weird,” Dalton continued. “It just feels like he always has his pulse on what’s going on.”
11. While we’re examining nerd cred, it’s worth noting that Dalton was a big Joss Whedon fan prior to S.H.I.E.L.D.
“I was a fan of Buffy,” he said. (Weren’t we all?) “It started there, and then of course The Avengers.” As for what it’s like meeting one’s geek hero after all these years, Dalton had nothing but nice things to say. “It was cool finally meeting the guy, and a little intimidating, too,” he admitted. “He’s Joss Whedon, exclamation point, bold. There was a little nervousness before I met him, but then when I met him, he was honestly the coolest human being I think I’ve met in my entire life.”
12. Whedon is the perfect fit for this series, because he understands the Marvel universe and how to have a good time.
“He’s never forgotten that we are all extremely lucky to work in this business and that we can also have fun while we do it,” Dalton said. “There’s a sense of playfulness there, so even when we’re dealing with superpowers and things like that in this comic book universe, there’s still a sense of fun.”
13. Future Whedonverse cameos are likely, and Dalton knows his first pick.
“Nathan Fillion,” he said, without hesitation. Fillion played Captain Malcolm Reynolds on Whedon’s sci-fi western Firefly and its film follow-up Serenity. “He gets the Whedon humor really, really well. Because he’s also quite serious but his seriousness is funny. That’s a hard thing to do.”
14. In fact, Fillion actually gave Dalton some guidance on joining the Joss Whedon family.
“He’s like, ‘Welcome to the Whedonverse,’” Dalton remembered. “‘You have the most loyal fans that exist. That’s a great spot to be in. You will never be without a fan from here on out. You will always have people who follow you because they love you and they love the world you’re a part of.’” Are you blushing yet, Whedonites?
15. And Dalton already knows what to say to make fans giddy.
Like this fake episode he pitched: “I was gonna paint myself green. Spoiler alert: That’s my costume. It’s a Halloween episode, is what it is. I am the Hulk and it’s great. Coulson is Spider-Man. He looks fantastic in a suit. Does the whole web-slinging thing.” WHY CAN’T THIS BE REAL.
16. The show is finding the balance between the arc and the individual episodes.
We’re still in the beginning stages of the series, but Dalton is confident S.H.I.E.L.D. can handle both the smaller stories and the more drawn-out plotlines. “We got a few aces up our sleeve for sure — we want to keep people interested,” he explained. “We don’t ever want to fall into a pattern of, Hey, here’s the case of the week and it starts here and then we finish it, and then everything’s kind of the same. We’ve actually done a really good job of the first couple of episodes each having their own flavor, each having their own texture and character to them, and they’re not like each other at all.”
17. And every episode, whether self-contained or part of the larger mythology, is cinematic.
“Every single episode I feel like delivers on the action,” Dalton said. “We saw two, with the plane exploding.” The production values are high — not as high as on a major film like The Avengers, but certainly impressive for television. “Maybe we can’t do CGI of the Hulk every week, but the guy who does the visual effects, I think, does a stunning job,” Dalton continued. “We like to think of it as shooting a movie every week.”
18. OK, so that’s a no-go on a weekly Hulk appearance, but there could be other Marvel cameos.
After all, we did just see Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in the closing scene of the second episode. “I would like to see some cameos, and I’m in the show,” Dalton said. “I don’t know if my opinion counts.” Let’s hope it does. Either way, Dalton has us excited about the possibilities: “The great thing about being in this universe is that there are so many different pies to put your fingers in, and there are so many different characters that have been established from different movies and different things. It feels like we just have a lot more cards on the table to play with.”
19. But this is the first time S.H.I.E.L.D. has ever gotten its own series. So let’s enjoy it.
While important to the Marvel universe, S.H.I.E.L.D. has mostly been on the fringes. “S.H.I.E.L.D. has never had the spotlight on it as much as this,” Dalton noted. “It’s always been involved in other people’s shows, but now that we have our own, it’s kind of cool that we get to create these characters that haven’t existed before.”
20. Besides, the Avengers have their own stuff going on.
This show “is about the other guys,” Dalton said. “[The Avengers] are superheroes, but I think what makes the show interesting is that it is about the other guys. We’re not those heroes. They can be in there or they can be referenced, but it can’t be about them. They have their own movies! They’re doing that thing.”
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
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