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The end of an era came to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2020 with the series finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after seven seasons, marking the conclusion of the first live-action Marvel TV show. In a surprising but wonderful twist for fans who were nervous about the fates of their favorites heading into the finale, the last episode delivered a happy ending without killing any of the heroes off. Elizabeth Henstridge, who of course played Jemma Simmons for all seven seasons, spoke with CinemaBlend about how she would want to return to the Marvel universe, how she sees S.H.I.E.L.D.'s legacy, and her valuable post-S.H.I.E.L.D. charity work with fiancé Zach Abel.
Not only did Simmons survive Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7, but Elizabeth Henstridge directed a key installment of the final run of episodes and has leant her voice to an animated Marvel project with Ultimate Spider-Man. When asked for her thoughts on potentially returning to the Marvel universe, Henstridge shared how she'd like to do it:
Oh my gosh, I'd take it all! I love it. I love what Marvel stands for. I love the characters that it portrays. I love the stories that are told. I love the epic level in which it's done. I mean, my ultimate goal would be to direct a huge Marvel movie and a huge superhero movie, but I would also act in anything that they do, voice anything that they do. I have absolutely loved working with and for Marvel. Yeah, we're always first in line to see the movies and that will continue. We just love it.
Elizabeth Henstridge directed a Season 7 episode that delivered a heartbreaking death, required her to direct her own emotional scene, and also advanced the mythology of the season while showcasing the bond between Daisy and Coulson. Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn't going anywhere despite some big delays, perhaps some bigger directing opportunities are on the way!
Of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is also expanding on the small screen. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was the only remaining live-action Marvel show left when it wrapped in August 2020, but shows like the upcoming WandaVision as well as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki are on the way to fill the vacancy left by S.H.I.E.L.D.. Elizabeth Henstridge explained how she sees S.H.I.E.L.D.'s legacy, especially with these new live-action shows on the way:
I'm really excited for all the new shows. We were lucky enough to be on air for seven seasons and I think it stands on its own as a piece of Marvel property. And you know, if there's anything that Marvel has taught us it's that there's just so many characters, so many stories to be told. And the more the merrier. I just feel so lucky to have gotten to be in a show that promotes strong, flawed, intelligent characters, and we got to live with these characters for so long. But I'm really excited about all the new Marvel shows and for me, a big piece of my heart will always belong to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The show's over now but I do feel like the legacy lives on, definitely.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is particularly notable for, as Elizabeth Henstridge noted, being able to stand on its own as a Marvel project that wasn't 100% beholden to closely following the events of the movies following the first season and the game-changing Captain America: The Winter Soldier. With the Disney+ shows starting out so closely tied to the movies, it should be interesting to see how they compare to the legacy S.H.I.E.L.D. built over seven seasons.
Now that Elizabeth Henstridge has laid down Simmons' lab coat and moved past the FitzSimmons "curse" for the S.H.I.E.L.D. happy ending, she and fiancé Zach Abel are pitching in and co-hosting for an event for the Smile Train charity. They'll kick off the World Smile Day Live virtual fundraiser as the pre-show co-hosts leading into the main event, hosted by Ciara. Smile Train works to provide proper access to treatment for children born with cleft, and you can register for World Smile Day Live here. Henstridge and Abel shared what the event hopes to accomplish:
Elizabeth Henstridge: I mean, it can quite literally save lives. It's about raising money, but it's also about raising awareness. And I think if people can keep Smile Train in mind, when they come to give to charities. We stand behind the fact that this is where we put our money and donate our time and our money. And so I think, you know, if we can, if we can help raise money, that can go to save these children's lives that otherwise would not have access to this incredible care, then that's kind of all we could ask for, but also, just to help spread the word
Zach Abel: I think that for this year, in particular, I think it's been really a trying time economically for a lot of people. And so obviously, it would be wonderful to get as much money donated as possible, but also just like, tagging World Smile Day and tagging Smile Train. Maybe this year times are really tough, but next year or in the future… That would be amazing and I think a lot of people don't even realize that it's something that requires treatment in the way that it does. Because 540 babies are born every single day with cleft and it is life-threatening. So I think if we can just get as many eyeballs on it as possible. It's amazing what can happen.
World Smile Day Live begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, October 2 with the pre-show co-hosted by Elizabeth Henstridge and Zach Abel. You can find it on the Smile Train website, FaceBook, or YouTube. The main event will also feature appearances by Gabrielle Union-Wade, Kevin Smith, Christie Brinkley and more on top of host Ciara and Elizabeth Henstridge and Zach Abel.
If you're in the mood to revisit the early days of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you can find the first six seasons streaming on Netflix now. As for more Marvel streaming content, Disney+ is the place to be! If you're in the market for some upcoming TV options, be sure to check out our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule.