SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s episode of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
We knew S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Agent Sitwell was in the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but tonight on ABC’s Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. we learned how he got there. Is this the crossover between the TV series and the about-to-be-released big-screen sequel that Marvel’s been teasing fans about for weeks? Nobody’s talking in secretive Marveland, but in a sense the truth was already out there – though probably only the hardcore fanboys picked up on it tonight. Amidst all the usual S.H.I.E.L.D. high-tech shenanigans and drama, tonight’s episode, titled “End Of The Beginning,” opened with a number of agents from the superspy org gathering along with the show’s regular team. Among them is Agent Hand, who was on the series earlier in the season; Agent Blake, who was introduced in the direct-to-video Marvel One-Shot Item 47; and the bespectacled Agent Sitwell.
On tonight’s show, the cagey Sitwell’s appearance is cut short about 15 minutes in as he is called away to an incident at sea. “I guess I got a boat to catch. Good luck, Agent Coulson,” Sitwell says after getting new orders. An incident at sea just happens to feature prominently in the extended footage from Winter Solider that Marvel released last month. In the footage (see video below), Cap, the Black Widow and a S.H.I.E.L.D. team parachute onto a ship where S.H.I.E.L.D. agents seemingly are being held hostage. Among those imprisoned – one Agent Jasper Sitwell, who gets a close-up at the 1:57 mark.
A presence in the Marvel comic world since the 1960s, the Sitwell character was in the last S.H.I.E.L.D. original on March 11 and the November 12 episode last fall. Straddling Marvel’s TV and movie world, the character, played by Maximiliano Hernandez, also has appeared in the first Thor movie, 2012’s megablockbuster The Avengers and the Marvel One-Shot pics Item 47 and The Consultant. Hernandez had a prominent role in another big law enforcement agency playing the now-killed-off FBI Agent Chris Amador in the first season of FX’s The Americans.
While this isn’t the first time the TV series and Marvel’s big-screen pics have shared the same universe, it is the first time the series has pivoted into one of the movies as opposed to featuring characters from them. Having said that, Thor: The Dark World and Winter Soldier are also the only Marvel movies that have come out since S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted on September 24, so opportunity has been overwhelmingly knocking. S.H.I.E.L.D. boss Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) appeared briefly in the second episode of the series, and Asgardian Lady Sif from the Thor pics (Jaime Alexander) showed up in the March 11 episode.
The question, as S.H.I.E.L.D. moves into an uninterrupted run to its May finale, has to be: Is this it, or is there more Winter Soldier and the interconnected Marvel universe to come on ABC?
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.