Patton Oswalt has signed on to guest star as Agent Eric Koenig in an upcoming episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The character made his Marvel Comics debut in 1966's Sgt. Fury's Howling Commandos #27, as a part of Fury's original team of World War II soldiers. Since the series takes place in modern day, it seems Marvel is tweaking the origin of this character, although no specific details were given. Take a look at the first photos of the actor in character, then read on to see how the beloved actor landed the role, his theories on who Koenig really may be, and how Marvel hasn't revealed any of the secrets of the show to him yet.
In a wide-ranging interview with Marvel.com, the actor revealed that the show first reached out to him for the role.
"I got a call from my agent saying they want you on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and I said 'Hell, yes.' I'm lucky that I'm visible enough that they wanted to bring me in to play this character. I'd worked with [Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Executive Producer] Joss [Whedon] before on Dollhouse, and I guess I wasn't too annoying and they decided to put me on another one of his shows. So I was very lucky."
The actor admitted that when he landed the role, the first thing he did was research who the character really is, in hopes he would be playing an iconic villain from the comics.
"When they first told me the character's name, I'll admit the first thing I did is I went on Wikipedia and looked up the M.O.D.O.K. character to see if Koenig was maybe his name before he became M.O.D.O.K., but it wasn't. They keep on talking about the Clairvoyant in the show and I'm like, 'Is that M.O.D.O.K.? Am I M.O.D.O.K.?'"
He also talked about what he enjoys about the show, and how it explores parts of the Marvel universe that aren't touched upon in the movies.
"[They're] a scrappy bunch of agents who are sort of working on the lower tier levels of the Marvel Universe and trying to stop threats before they even get to the Avengers-level threats. It's almost like when you watch The Wire, and the guys like Pryzbylewski are just chasing the paper trail but that's kind of the whole case. That's where they can bring these guys down, is they're doing the kind of brutal grunt work. There are these people doing the day to day that keeps the world from spinning into chaos. [They say,] 'No, we don't have the shiny Tony Stark, Hawkeye, Black Widow stuff, but we are in it up to our necks and we're doing it.' I really like that. There's a great sense of camaraderie."
The actor also commented on the recent addition of Agent John Garrett (Bill Paxton), and how the producers wouldn't reveal if he turns into an android or not.
"They introduced Agent Garrett, who's one of my favorite Marvel characters, and I kept asking them on the set, 'Is he going to be an android [like in the comics]?' They're just like, 'You'll have to wait and see.' They clearly have plans. This is not the mid-'90s anymore where they just handed comic book properties to anybody, they're thinking I'm making a comic book [TV series] in this awesome universe and I don't want to mess it up. And that's a different motivation than what was happening in the '90s, and that's real cool. I'm glad that changed, that they're giving them to guys that welcome the tension of, 'how do I make popular entertainment that still acknowledges this big fanbase that cares about this universe? And if I'm going to change things, can I do it in a way that makes them go oh wow?'"
Patton Oswalt compared the shifting tone of the series to John le Carré's spy novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
"They're using the Jonathan Hickman model of wheels-within-wheels. It's getting into that John le Carré, 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy world now, which creates even more tension because you don't know, is someone lying to me, and are they doing me a favor by lying to me? That's really great stuff to play as an actor."
He also commented that the sets are more elaborate than many of the movie sets he has been on.
"For a TV show, the practical sets that they built are more elaborate and more of a 360 sandbox environment than a lot of movie sets that I've been on, and that really blew me away. You could do almost West Wing walk and talk sequences on set. I was like, this is the set for a very brief arc of the show, and the level of detail that went into it was pretty stunning."
The actor talked about how he is still a consumer of the Marvel universe that he can't get enough of.
"When you're in something, now you know what's coming. A big part of me is still a big consumer of this stuff. I have friends now that write some of the comics, and they'll send me issues, [but] I like having to wait until every Wednesday and get it once a month. That's sort of part of the story for me. It's that push-pull of, I want to know stuff now, but I also like the waiting is part of the fun. [Marvel's] doing so much stuff [though], and now with the Netflix [deal], there's always going to be enough to wait for and rub my hands together for. That will never be a problem."