Feature Article

Agents of SHIELD Episode 100: Ming-Na Wen Looks Back At Five Seasons

What's the future hold for Agent May?

This week, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. celebrates its 100th episode. The ABC series (based on the Marvel Comics organization S.H.I.E.L.D.) is in the midst of its fifth season, in which the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents attempt to save humanity after being transported to the future--in outer space.

Despite reaching its 100th episode milestone, SHIELD has not yet been renewed for a sixth season. Executive Producers of the show told Entertainment Weekly that they are writing the last episode of season five as a series finale.

“Right now, we’re writing a series end,” says Executive Producer Jeffrey Bell, “because as far as we know, this could be it.”

The future of the series is uncertain, yet Agents of SHIELD remains Marvel’s best reviewed TV show on Rotten Tomatoes, thanks to its lovable and talented cast, strong character development, fantastic action sequences, and rich comic book mythology.

We talked with SHIELD star Ming-Na Wen, who plays Agent Melinda May, about how her character has grown over the years, season 5’s biggest changes, and pulling off those jaw-dropping fight scenes.

GameSpot: This is your fifth season playing Agent Melinda May. How do you feel she has evolved as a character over the years?

Ming-Na Wen: I think she takes two steps forward, three steps back. When she starts connecting and being very maternal with this new family and getting out of her desk job and out of her trauma, somehow there’s always issues where there’s mistrust again, there’s anger issues where she’s not sure if what’s she’s done was the right thing or not the right thing in the Bahrain situation, and in protecting Coulson--letting him die, or not letting him die. I don't know. She's definitely one of those characters that wears a mask a lot and I think for her to still break out of her shell is ever the mystery. I think she falls back into it quite readily.

I had heard you had a major injury while filming season 4 of SHIELD. How’s your knee?

I sustained the injury from a very simple kick that I’ve done a million times. But it’s one of those situations where it’s an intense fight, you’re dealing with repetition, and like with any athletic situation or situations where you’re involved physically, there is the potential of injury. And unfortunately, my ACL and my meniscus decided that they weren’t going to do it anymore, and they snapped and I fell down.

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That sounds awful.

Yeah, It was very sudden. It hurt--the initial thing felt painful, like somebody shot me in the leg, after that I was fine. Surgery was fine. The rehabilitation, the physical therapy, that’s been the most frustrating part about it. Especially because after I had the surgery, two months later I had to go back to work. We had a very short hiatus. But overall, so far so good. I have maybe about 4 or 5 months of healing and then by then they say I should be good as new. It’s such a little part of your body, but it takes a year.

It was reported that they incorporated your injury into the storyline.

Yes, but then they still had Agent May fight, which is not fair! [Laughs] They just put in the injury so that I’m allowed to limp without questioning. But that doesn’t prevent them from going, “But she can still fight.”

You can see May fighting the pain from her injury as she keeps on getting into fights. How much of that visible pain is real?

Yes, that’s not acting! That’s real. No, I’m just kidding.

How much of that is you?

I mean, I still did a fair amount of it. I didn’t do anything that required me to jump or kick or twist really very much. But I had a brace on the whole time, so it was great.

The fifth season of SHIELD has a very different feel to it. It’s even more sci-fi than ever before, in a post-apocalyptic future with the Kree and time-travel, and a prophecy. How did you initially feel about these big changes, and how would you compare this storyline to those of past seasons?

You know, when I heard that we’re definitely going out to space, there was an initial moment where I was like, “Ooh, are we gonna jump the shark now? What’s this mean?” But I mean, that’s what’s so brilliant about our writers. They have come up with a new way of putting these characters in a situation where now they’re depleted of everything. And how do they use their skills as SHIELD agents or as inhumans in battling this situation? It’s been fantastic.

And it ties in a lot with Guardians of the Galaxy and where Thor went, I mean everybody kind of went to outer space. And was dealing with aliens and Kree. So I think the tone of our show certainly is aligned with the cinematic Marvel universe. And then alternately, it was just a lot of fun. I mean, for me as a geek girl, to be able to pretend to fly a spaceship, you know, it doesn’t get any cooler than that--and then to actually see it on screen, I was like, “Oh my goodness! This is so cool.” And the fact that May is so confident in doing it, like she’s done it a million times before. It’s pretty cool.

Where could the show potentially go from here? You’re in space, do you have any setting or storyline suggestions for a possible Season 6?

I would love us to somehow end up in Tahiti. And we could shoot in Hawaii or something for season six and just kind of relax.

Well, Tahiti would bring it full circle, it would be perfect.

You know, drink a mai-tai or something. I don't know.

Just a season of relaxing.

More loving, less fighting. Also, I think our audience wants Philinda [Phil Coulson & Melinda May] to hook up finally.


Yeah. And I like the fact that they're just really slow.

Right. It's a tension, its like Mulder and Scully on The X-Files. It's like you didn't really want them to be together, you just love the tension that goes on for years.

Yeah, yeah. And they feel it, you know, which is very realistic, I mean they honor each other as friends and co-workers but then ultimately you know, yeah, if you take that step, I mean it could screw everything up.

Any chance of an Agents of SHIELD crossover with other Marvel shows?

None that I know of.

Would you like there to be?

Yeah, I'd like to.

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Which other character in the MCU would you like team up with?

Oh, there's so many. I mean cinematic, any of those big, big heroes. Whether it's Thor--Thor has always been a special one, Hulk, Captain America, they're all great. But on TV if we ever do a crossover, I mean it would be fantastic to you know, work with any of those Marvel characters.

You’re no stranger to complex fight choreography. What’s the toughest stunt or fight sequence you’ve ever done?

I would have to say the toughest one was when I had to do the May versus May fight.

Oh, yeah. That sounds complicated.

Yeah. That took like three days and lots of costume changes going back and forth between the silver dress and the lingerie. And we had, let's see, stunt doubles for each of the Mays, and everybody had to learn all the choreography, I had to learn both sides of the choreography and got a couple of teeth knocked out. So that was cool.


Yeah, I chipped a couple of front teeth. There's nothing more fun than trying to fight well in lingerie and a silver sparkly dress.

How long would you like to play Melinda May?

I don't know, as long as the stories are great, and because as a family we get along fantastic and we have a wonderful time. The cast, the crew, the bosses, you know, they're amazing. Our executive producers are fantastic, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen and Jeff Bell, and Jeph Loeb, and so for me, it's one of those situations where as a working environment, it's fun and we have the greatest fans in the world. So I don't, maybe another, what, we're in five years? We could go another five.

Lastly, Have they reached out to you about the Live Action Mulan movie? Or would you like to be involved?

We have been in touch. And as of now, I don't think there's anything that is going to connect me. But you know, one never knows.

Are you excited about it?

Oh, yes. Very excited about it. No, I think it's fantastic. And ultimately I mean, it's going to, like with Beauty and the Beast, as much as I love the movie, like the animation always will be special in its own right. And I think Mulan's going to be like that too. But I love the fact that they want to forge ahead and do something with an Asian character that's furthering that storyline.

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD airs Fridays at 9pm on ABC.

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