"Marvel's Agents of SHIELD," Joss Whedon's television spin-off of his $1 billion blockbuster "The Avengers," will remain firmly part of the Marvel family.
"There will be as much as we can allow," Whedon told reporters Sunday at the TCA Press Tour about the ABC thriller's synergy to the movie franchise, including the upcoming "Thor" and "Avengers" sequels. "We're still working that out. It's a fluid process."
"Marvel is one universe," added executive producer Jeph Loeb. "We'll try to follow the continuity (between the various mediums) as best as we can," adding dryly, "There's always going to be some bump in the night that our fan base will let us know about immediately."
"SHIELD's" first and biggest "bump" was the fact that its lead, Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), was killed off in "The Avengers." But Loeb confirmed that they never even considered making the show without resurrecting Coulson.
"It's pretty spectacular that the guy who starts off in 'Iron Man' as an annoying bureaucrat who has a secret ends up with his own TV show," said Gregg about his character, whose trajectory he called "a magnificent chain letter."
Although Whedon insists he doesn't want "SHIELD" "to just be an Easter egg farm," the door is always open to the franchise films' stars.
Cobie Smulders, for example, will reprise her role as agent Maria Hill in the pilot, "and we'd love to see her again," Whedon told reporters. "We'd love to see Sam (Jackson as Nick Fury) too, but he's a movie star and a workaholic. Whether or not he makes time for us again I can't say yet."
Whedon thinks the crossover is "a great idea for the show and a perfectly good idea for (the actors)."
"They're superstars in that universe," he said. "If they showed up it would actually make sense."
But he won't be actively recruiting the guest stars. "I'm not going to go begging," noted Whedon. "The DNA of ('SHIELD') is the show. Those guys would be a delightful bonus, but we're not building our arcs around them."
"SHIELD"premieres Tuesday, Sept. 24 on ABC.