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The title of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season finale is “Beginning Of The End”: thus, it’s only fitting that the final piece of art in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Art of Level Seven series should take us back to the start, with a design that replicates the way we were introduced to our team in the initial series poster.
Granted, there have been some changes since that poster debuted last summer: With the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. is no more, Hydra is now prevalent, bleeding its way through the broken logo as if it plans to take over the world. (And maybe it does…) The formation of the team is different as well: instead of flanking Coulson’s side, former good guy Grant Ward is now separated from the group and tinted by Hydra’s disturbing red glow.
Just as the series has taken on the task of blending Marvel comics and tent pole films, this poster bridges the world of cinema art and comic book art. The designer behind this piece is Phantom City Creative, a super cool independent art studio based in Toronto run by Paige Reynolds and Justin Erickson. You may recognize their work from the eye-catching posters that they created for Marvel Cinematic Universe movies The Avengers and Iron Man 3.
So, what does this art mean for the season finale? In the last of our weekly chats, executive producer Jeff Bell weighs in with his thoughts. As a reminder, this art will be available for purchase as a limited edition high quality print exclusively through MarvelStore.com starting at 1 a.m. PST tomorrow.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I love how this is a mirror of the first official poster, but that there are just enough noticeable differences — the clothing, the coloring, the broken S.H.I.E.L.D. logo, Ward being tinted by Hydra…
JEFF BELL: And we moved him a little bit to one side. He’s a little farther away.
But like Hydra’s sneakiness, it’s conveyed so subtly that you almost don’t realize until you look at closer.
But he reeks of Hydra. Look at that red, he’s got Hydra all over him.
I also like how Coulson is obviously in the middle because he’s the center of everything, and then May and Skye are on either side of him because they’re both connected to him more emotionally than anyone else. And then Fitz and Simmons are in the back. It’s almost as if that one side of Coulson, where it’s May and Fitz and Simmons — that’s his team, that’s the people he knows are always there. And then on the other side are the people that came into the fold with maybe a different agenda.
That’s what I love about art, you can interpret things so many ways. But I would say yes, and yes, and yes.
Okay, admit it. I probably read way too much into that, right?
No, but that’s the beauty of it! [laughs] When people watch things, especially in this universe, they’re always digging so much further into it than we had anticipated. Like, “did you see what his fingers are doing? That’s clearly a sign that in episode 27, this is gonna happen!” Okay, yes it is! So we plan a lot of details and we try to put a lot of Easter eggs in, but it’s amazing what people find that we didn’t know we put there. But I think everything you said about this is true.
Since this is the final piece of art in this series, it obviously hints a little bit about what we can expect in the finale. We know Hydra is in S.H.I.E.L.D., that Ward is bad, and that the team is trying to take Garrett down…but really, is there any way that S.H.I.E.L.D. can bounce back?
We talk about that in the last episode. As of right now, S.H.I.E.L.D. is in disarray — if not fallen — and we have people who don’t really care who are determined to bring certain other characters to justice no matter what. And through episodes 21 and 22, I think you’ll see that we address the very question you ask and, we believe, set a compass for what season two will be once they tell us we officially have a season two. Because we are called Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it would be Marvel’s Agents of Something, Marvel’s Agents of Stay Tuned And Find Out, Marvel’s Agents of Hydra…there’s so many different ways, but we are called Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so whether it’s official or not, that’s the fun: us trying to figure out what this looks like now.
So maybe we should assume that the shattered S.H.I.E.L.D. logo basically means things are irreparable.
One of the beauties now of S.H.I.E.L.D. sort of crumbling is that it’s always weird to write a giant omnipotent organization that snoops on your phone calls and has infinite knowledge of everything, and go “but we’re the good guys!” You know? It’s tricky sometimes to make you feel like “Yay! They’re listening in!” And so now we truly are underdogs. Now we really are on our own and have to use limited resources, and have to find other ways to stop the bad guys. And for us as storytellers, that’s really exciting.
How is everything going to come together next week? Based on past episodes, I assume it’s going to leave us screaming and cursing, right?
That was the goal! To me, a recipe for a good season finale is it answers most of the big questions and lays some new ones for you to look forward to when it comes back. And whether it’s a cliffhanger or there’s just introduction of a new character, or whether there’s a twist on someone you didn’t see coming, you go “oh, I wanna see what that is! What does that mean?” And so ideally we have answered the big questions that people are curious about in satisfactory ways, and we will lay the groundwork for our “wished for” season two.
Going back to the design of the poster for a moment: I love the simplicity of it, with just the red and the black and the off white. It’s eye catching, and it makes the Hydra logo stand out that much more.
It’s hard to beat black, white and red as a color combo: there’s a reason that works and it just really pops. As I said before, the beauty of coming out of the Marvel world is that Marvel was founded on really great artists. And the fact that we have so many great logos and iconographies and the gadgets…in episode 21, there are some retro S.H.I.E.L.D. gadgets. We went back and looked at some of the old drawings from the comics and we tried to find things that had approximated with the comics with some of the older gadgets. And that was a lot of fun for us.
And we should point out that the poster was designed by studio that largely produces art for film and television, so that was kind of a fun detour.
I think everyone else that we used was a comic person, and this was a little bit outside of that so I love that Arune [Singh, Executive Director of Television Communications, Marvel Entertainment] and Sam [Samantha Thomas, a producer on the show] had gotten them into the circle as well.
The season finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Beginning Of The End,” airs next Tuesday, May 13 at 8 pm ET on ABC.
Check out all of EW’s exclusive coverage from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Art of Level Seven: