Friday, January 22, 2021

What Happened to Marvel's Most Wanted?

After the initial success of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, the comics giant decided to move forward with a spin-off series based on two of their newer characters. A pilot was produced, but the show never materialized. When the characters all but vanished from the universe, fans began to wonder: What happened to Marvel’s Most Wanted?

Marvel’s Most Want was a planned spin-off of 2014’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. featuring Lance Hunter (played by Nick Blood) and Bobbi Morse, a loose adaptation of the comics' Mockingbird (played by Adrianne Palicki). On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the two played S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and ex-spouses who end up on the same team. The spin-off was planned to featured their continuing adventures as ex-agents after leaving the organization.

A pilot was produced, but ABC decided to pass on the series after much publicity and hype. The pilot has never aired and almost nothing has been seen from it. Today, it is considered a piece of lost media.

Most TV pilots never get seen by the public. Even if a show gets picked up, the first episode may be edited with reshoots or even completely retooled and reshot. In fact, so many pilots get produced every season there are plenty that never get any publicity unless they’re of a higher profile such as a spin-off to a hit show.

What I find bizarre about Marvel’s Most Wanted is how it came to be and its impact on the rest of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series. The characters in question were both introduced as main characters in the second season and had kind of a lot going on for them. Agent Morse is based on a major Marvel superhero afterall.

In the middle of the third season there was a whole episode dedicated to setting up the spin-off. Not only did the episode create a sloppy reason for them to leave the show, but for one reason or another the duo can never work for the government again. With S.H.I.E.L.D. being a government agency, they were essentially written out of the show forever.

With a bold move like this, the spin-off must've been fantastic if they preemptively wrote two of its leads out with little hope they could ever return. The wild part is that the pilot hadn’t even been shot yet. Since the spin-off never happened these two main characters dropped off the face of the Marvel Universe altogether. Hunter returned for a random episode a few years later, but Morse was never seen again.

So how did this happen? Apparently the spin-off was in development before either character was even introduced on the show. Their entire season-and-a-half can be seen as a backdoor pilot of sorts. From what I've heard over the years, everyone involved was 100% sure the show was happening before the pilot was even shot, hence the awkward exit of its stars.

Normally an actual backdoor pilot would've been included in the show itself - but, again, there were already plenty of episodes featuring the two on missions. It's also common for a pilot to be produced alongside a show, maybe with the characters having a reduced role for an episode or two while they're on a different set. That way they could’ve stayed on the show if the pilot failed. The fact that they were basically killed off before the pilot was even shot will forever blow my mind.

Apparently the pilot wasn't great. Even the premise doesn't exactly sound that interesting. The biggest criticism of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter was that they were basically spy shows that were "kinda but not really" set in the Marvel Universe. Most Wanted sounded like it would've just been more of that. Daredevil began around this time and people started to realize what a great Marvel show starring actual superheroes could look like.

However, even if it was a mediocre pilot that no one asked for, lots of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans still want to see it. When Disney Plus launched with more or less everything the corporation has the rights to, I figured we’d see it on there as a standalone special at one point. But we all know Disney Plus is missing everything I actually want to watch, so who is surprised here?

Marvel has apparently discussed releasing the pilot at some point, which means they probably don’t think it’s completely terrible. Afterall it was ABC, not Marvel, who passed on the project. This would actually be pretty unprecedented as most pilots never see the light of day. Unfortunately, ABC controls the pilot and definitely has no plans to release it.

Most Wanted probably wouldn’t have been a good show, but Marvel was cocky and running on the high of recent successes. They experimented with a lot of different formats for longform content and ultimately some experiments never leave the lab.

We might never see this spin-off. Frankly, I prefer the mystery of what Most Wanted is and kind of hope it never gets released. The Inhumans got a release and look how that turned out.