by Brett White
Fans of the Whedon-verse can commence freaking out, as TV Line has reported that J. August Richards has landed a top secret role in ABC's just-wrapped pilot for a "S.H.I.E.L.D." television series. This news is so juicy and flat-out exciting that it has me questioning whether or not TV Line is playing a belated April Fool's Day prank. If so... not cool, y'all.
But it is April 5th, so this seems incredibly legit. Richards is no stranger to Joss Whedon; he spent four seasons as Gunn on the television series "Angel," endearing himself to "Buffy" and "Angel" fans a million times over with his heartfelt, confident and charming portrayal of Angel Investigations' no-nonsense demon hunter. But who could J. August Richards be playing in "S.H.I.E.L.D."? Let me take a wild guess...
When a Whedon alum shows up in a new Whedon show, they usually play a big role. Since we already know who every other character is, that makes me think that Richards is playing someone important. Heck, they have already revealed that Agent Coulson is coming back. That's huge! If this is something they're keeping secret, J. August Richards has to be playing someone that fans will flip out about.
J. August Richards is playing Luke Cage.
I wanted to list other options, but there really aren't any other choices. Luke Cage is a big character who has risen to prominence after spending most of the past decade as the leader of the New Avengers. Actors have been begging to play him for years now, with everyone from Isaiah Mustafa to Tyrese Gibson lobbying for the part. Cage even came close to making it to the small screen in the since-abandoned pilot starring Jessica Jones. He's a shoe-in for inclusion on "S.H.I.E.L.D."
Yeah, Richards could play G.W. Bridge, the Black Panther, Clay Quartermain, Daredevil, Iron Fist... he could be Quasar. Marvel casting is usually off-center but still always dead on, so whatever choice they make will fit. But "S.H.I.E.L.D." so far has no previously established Marvel Comics characters and Richards proved that he can handle macho confidence and intimidation while playing Gunn on "Angel." The truth is, I would bet he's either playing another totally new character... or we finally have our Luke Cage.
Who do you think J. August Richards is playing? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter!