Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Who is Will Daniels?

Jamie Udinson Fanny Pack
November 19th, 2015

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Who is Will Daniels?

Who is Will Daniels? What is Will Daniels? Our Fanny Pack is here to talk what we know so far about Jemma's marooned love interest, and what it means for our favorite Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

This article contains major spoilers for Season 3 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Catch up and then read on!

For those of us who are die-hard FitzSimmons fans, the last few episodes of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might have been hard to watch at times. The introduction of Will Daniels as Jemma Simmons’ love interest certainly threw yet another wrench in the deal for Leo Fitz, who essentially had to move mountains to rescue Simmons from whatever planet she was on. In Episode 8, “Many Heads, One Tale,” Fitz becomes exasperated by the fact that he cannot find any dirt on Will Daniels, and despite the success of his rescue mission, declares that the couple is ultimately cursed. We do get to witness the first kiss shared by the duo, but we also learn that Simmons loves Will Daniels as well. What a conundrum this whole thing is turning out to be. But, one thing we know about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., is that things are rarely what they seem and occasionally, those who appear to be allies are often times enemies, and vice versa. Will Daniels may have been just an astronaut who was tasked with protecting a few scientists sent on a mission to a far away planet, but then again, maybe he wasn’t.

What We Know About Will Daniels

Will Daniels was an Air Force pilot prior to his recruitment by NASA.  A “Hometown Hero” with a squeaky-clean past, Daniels was given the opportunity to accompany a team of scientists through a portal to another world. His task was to protect his colleagues while they worked on finding a way home. Daniels has survived on the planet alone for most the last 14 years, having built a system of traps and an underground hideout to protect him from the deadly force that seemingly haunted the planet.  When Will finds Jemma, he puts her into a large cage he has built in his underground hideout as he tries to assess whether or not she is real. The two work together to create a plan intended to help them find a way to get off of the planet using Jemma’s brains and her cell phone battery (with an insanely long battery life). When the plan fails, the two accept their fate as destined to remain marooned on the planet until someone back on Earth finds a way to rescue them.

What We Know About “Project Distant Star Return”

This was the name of the project that Gideon Malick consulted on for NASA, the project that presumably sent Will Daniels through the Monolith portal. We learned from Gideon Malick that Hydra was built on the mission of bringing a deadly and powerful Inhuman back from the other side of the portal, an Inhuman that was banished from Earth eons ago. It seem fairly evident that the ATCU, established as a front for a secret Hydra Inhuman army breeding ground, was all part of the Distant Star Return project as well. After all, Rosalind Price does say she was recruited by Malick back in 2001, the same year that Daniels’ mission was lost. As the final moments of Episode 8 revealed that the container meant to hold Lash featured a Distant Star Return label, a picture of a much more elaborate scheme begins to take shape.

What’s My Theory?

Will Daniels is not Will Daniels; and it will end up being S.H.I.E.L.D., or more specifically Jemma and Fitz, who unleash hell on earth in the form of a deadly, mind-controlling Inhuman.

So, let’s talk this out. First off, we know that a new backstory can be created for someone at the drop of a hat in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This much was reinforced when we saw the various aliases used by Rosalind Price.  There would be no dirt on Will Daniels for Fitz to find if his hero story was fabricated as part of Malick’s earlier Project Distant Star Return strategy. Now I’m not sure whether I think that means that Will Daniels was never actually part of the original mission, or if I think Will Daniels was chosen because of some Inhuman quality he possessed that made him a candidate to either become the deadly Inhuman on the planet, or prolong its life through sacrifice. One thing is for sure though, Will Daniels was chosen for a reason, and I doubt it was because he was just available.

Now you might be asking yourself, why would Will Daniels “fall in love” with Jemma Simmons if he was the Inhuman all along? Well, it’s clear that the Inhuman that was banished to that planet has mind-control capabilities and is extremely manipulative. When Simmons shows up on the planet, it would make perfect sense for the Inhuman to view her as a vehicle through which it can escape. It killed the scientists many years ago, and has run out of options. When Simmons starts to imagine a way to get home, the opportunity to tag along would only be truly ensured if they became attached. And, if Simmons failed, she mentioned hundreds of times how Fitz and S.H.I.E.L.D., would find a way to rescue her. I’ll add that just because I think that Will was manipulating the situation, doesn’t mean I think he is incapable of actually enjoying Simmons’ company or even fostering actual feelings for her. After all, Grant Ward did at one point seem to have real feelings for Daisy, and he’s an unequivocal lunatic. Yes, Simmons and Fitz are going to find a way to get Will Daniels off that planet; and they’re going to do it with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D., because S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to find out that the key to stopping Hydra is on that planet too. It’s what happens when Daniels gets back to Earth that is going to be tricky and leads me to my final prediction.

Will Daniels is Maximus the Mad

Credit: Marvel

Credit: Marvel

Maximus is the brother of Inhuman ruler Black Bolt, and was a member of the Inhuman Royal Family. He is an insane super-genius who possesses tremendous powers of mind-control. Several Marvel continuities depict Maximus as a deadly usurper of his brother’s throne who used his powers to sway supporters and carry out deadly assaults. Maximus also was known to have negotiated with Kree leaders in order to sell Inhumans as slave soldiers, and was imprisoned for awhile by the Royal Family. Interestingly, Maximus at one point went into a coma after a botched scientific experiment; and with the help of an alien crystal transferred his consciousness into his brother's body to rule in Black Bolt's body until he was forced to return to his own.  Maximus is capable of manipulating a person’s mind and making them see what he wants them to see. Which means Jemma could be seeing Will Daniels, the NASA employee who accompanied a mission to the planet years ago, even if that’s not exactly what he is. He could also have made her see the progression of their relationship if that is what he wanted. That pretty much means anything is on the table as far as Daniels is concerned. Maximus also makes perfect sense to be the thing that Hydra worships; he is reckless, seemingly void of conscience, and bent on domination. It would indeed be ambitious for S.H.I.E.L.D. to incorporate such a pivotal character from the Inhuman storylines right now with the Inhumans movie on the plan for Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies; but there is also plenty of Inhuman canon to choose from for the slated 2019 film.

So Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., bring back Will Daniels. And let the (mind)games begin.

Watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Tuesdays at 9/8C on ABC.


Fanny Pack is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow her on Twitter: @Onapack

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