Phil Coulson was the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. long before Marvel’s fictional espionage agency landed its own TV show on ABC. Actor Clark Gregg has been portraying Coulson since the 2008 blockbuster Iron Man kicked off the successful Avengers film franchise from Marvel Studios. Based on a character that had never graced the pages of Marvel Comics, Coulson would continue his duties for S.H.I.E.L.D in Iron Man 2, Thor and The Avengers. Having died at the hands of Loki, the character was brought back to life at Project TAHITI to be the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D in the television series.
Then, in the Season 3 finale, Director Coulson hinted at some big changes coming up for the agency — including a new director. In May’s Captain America: Civil War, the Sokovia Accords were introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, meaning that the general public could once again know about the existence of S.H.I.E.L.D However, with the public under the assumption that Phil Coulson is dead, someone else must be the face of the agency as it reorganizes. To that end, Jason O’Mara will play the unnamed character to fill Phil Coulson’s shoes in Season 4 — just in time for an encounter with Ghost Rider.
As noted by Spoiler TV, Coulson’s new role will be that of tracking down potential Inhumans, with Mack at his side. While the rest of the team obviously has a soft spot for rogue agent Daisy/Quake, Jason’s character has no emotional ties — and apparently no qualms about bringing Daisy down. Other than that, little is known of the character to be played by O’Mara, other than the fact that he will be “playing a character whose Marvel roots go back to the 1940s,” according to Marvel. The intentionally vague allusion could mean that the character is somehow tied to Marvel’s Agent Carter (about a character from Captain America’s past who was a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D) or simply that the character will be based on someone who has been showing up in Marvel Comics for the last 70 years.
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Of course, before the casting decision of James O’Mara was announced, Marvel released a Season 4 trailer for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D that revealed the return for one of Marvel’s edgiest characters: Ghost Rider. As the Marvel press release stated, Robbie Reyes (played by Gabriel Luna) is a junkyard mechanic with a penchant for violence not unlike The Punisher from Season 2 of Marvel’s Daredevil. Unrelated to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the role of Ghost Rider was previously played by Nicholas Cage in the Ghost Rider movie of 2007 and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in 2012.
You may recognize the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D as Damian Boyle from The Good Wife or Jack Lamb from Vegas. For dedicated comic fans, his voice may be recognizable as Bruce Wayne/Batman from several animated Batman films over the last few years, including Justice League: Thorne of Atlantis, Batman vs. Robin, Batman: Bad Blood and Justice League vs. Teen Titans.
Before being cast as Ghost Rider, the lesser-known Gabriel Luna played Tony Bravo on Matador and Paco Contreras on Wicked City. A character that is an obvious fit alongside most of the characters appearing in all of the Marvel/Netflix exclusive series, there is no indication as to whether Luna’s Ghost Rider will ever appear on shows like Daredevil, The Defenders or Jessica Jones.
Where To Watch
In the fall, ABC will broadcast Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D on Tuesday evenings at 10/9c. Replays of the most recent episodes of S.H.I.E.L.D are available to stream the following day through ABC’s official website or via Hulu PLUS.
The first three seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are currently available to stream on-demand with a Netflix subscription. The final five episodes of Season 3 of S.H.I.E.L.D can currently be streamed via Hulu PLUS or ABC’s website.
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