Since Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted last year, Chloe Bennet and Elizabeth Henstridge’s characters have been compared to the Joss Whedon heroines that have come before them. It’s both the curse and the blessing of being a woman in a Whedonverse project, as Joss, his brother and S.H.I.E.L.D. showrunner Jed Whedon, and co-collaborator Maurissa Tancharoen, always make a point to have leading ladies actually be leading, as they attempt to take charge of taking down whatever evil entity–vampire, werewolf, ghost, dasterdly dangerous organization–comes in their (and their loved ones’) way. But what do these women think of these girls that lead the charge before them? Who do they admire?
Cinefilles sought to answer both questions when offered a chance to talk to both Bennet and Henstridge earlier this summer at an upfront event for CTV, S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Canadian broadcaster. And from the sounds of it, like a lot of us Filles, these gals will forever be slayed by she who, well, slays.
“I would say Buffy,” Bennet, who plays S.H.I.E.L.D.’s newest recruit Skye, told Cinefilles when asked to name her favourite Whedonverse gal. Henstridge, the woman behind Simmons of behind-the-scenes dream team Fitzsimmons, added, with a laugh, “I like Willow. I just really like her hair. That’s what I tried to pitch for [Simmons]. Like, ‘Do you not think … I could be a redhead?'”
When Cinefilles noted that while Simmons is definitely a Willow-type, with her badass fighting skills and occasional ‘tude, Skye seems more like Faith, the other, darker slayer played by Eliza Dushku who came in to help Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buff after it was presumed she was dead (and thus, a new Chosen one must be chosen). Bennet immediately chimed in with a thought that’s on all our minds as we watch any Whedon product: “I think there’s a common thread between all of them of them of being kind of quirky and strong and non-apologetic.”
Both Skye and Simmons played quite strong in the Season 1 finale of S.H.I.E.L.D., what with the former battling–SPOILER ALERT!–in-organization traitor Ward (Brett Dalton) and HYDRA alongside fellow battle-ready babe Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), and the latter working to save her partner (Iain De Caestecker’s Fitz) and herself from a terrible underwater death scene, while also dealing with his admission of love towards her. They had to keep their heads up in different ways, and they did so in the same sort of compelling, yet realistic manner.
“I really loved and respected the moment when [Fitz] professes his love and [Simmons] doesn’t,” Henstridge told Cinefilles back in June. “She loves him, but it’s not romantic for her. Because that’s how it happens in real life. It’s not like ‘Oh my god, I like you and you like me too!'”
She continued, “Maybe down the line they will get together, but right now for Simmons, that’s not … she just doesn’t have that feeling.”
Henstridge went on to praise Bennet’s big finale moment, particularly the moment when Skye reveals Melinda as her back-up (“That line when you’re like, ‘Oh no, I’ve got something much worse!'” she said, excitedly to Bennet), showing that these women clearly see much to admire in these latest additions to the women of Whedon. And it sounds like there’s going to be a lot more girl-powered action to come too, as Bennet revealed that the finale fight won’t be the last Melinda/Skye team-up in the fallout of them both being betrayed personally and professionally by Ward.
“Skye uses her charisma and her voice as her power and Melinda is not like that at all, so they really couldn’t see eye-to-eye [in Season 1],” the actress said. “Ward has really brought them together as women and they can be like, ‘Yes, screw him!’ In this world of superheroes, it’s really just a man being a jerk that brought them together, which is very … human.”
She added, with a smile, “I think moving forward they’ll understand each other and work together more.”
You know, just like Buffy and Willow. And Buffy and Faith. And Buffy and Cordelia. And Buffy and–you catch our drift.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns to CTV and ABC on Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. ET.