S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Agent Grant Ward : Antihero or Villain?

S.H.I.E.L.D’s Agent Grant Ward : Antihero or Villain? 

ward gun

Note: This article contains spoilers from Captain America: The Winter Solider and
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ‘Shadows’

I admit, Ward’s Hydra status took me by surprise but after I picked my jaw up off the floor, I fell in love with the idea. Dalton played evil with a swagger that was almost irresistible. Plus, it was nice to have an enemy that the audience, as well as the team, had an emotional tie to.

Still, part of the fun of a villain you love, is being able to secretly hope that maybe, one day, he will change his ways and become a good guy. Marvel is no stranger to this and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gave Agent Ward enough complexity and motivation that fans are divided on whether or not he can ever be redeemed.

The Safety: Backstory and Brainwashing

Abused as a child only to be taken in by a psychopath who trained him as a take no prisoner mercenary, excuses can be made, right? As Skye taunted him in the finale of season one, he’s not evil, he’s just a follower.

As a member of Hydra, Ward’s training could come even further into play. Perhaps he’s not as weak-minded as Skye accused him of being. In Captain America: The Winter Solider, Bucky Barnes returns after years of torture and brainwashing. Barnes has killed many innocent people and yet, he saved Steve Rogers in the end. Ward may have killed Agent Victoria Hand, and he may have tossed Fitz-Simmons out of a plane with little regard if they lived or died, but he didn’t hurt Skye! That has to mean there’s good there somewhere, right?

Madness, Regret or Manipulations?

grant wardFast forward to season two. Ward will only talk to Skye and though Coulson has fought it for months, the right enemy has come along at just the right moment. Ward’s intel might be the only hope they have to defeating The Crusher.

Skye’s interrogation of Ward uncovers a few truths about his life as a prisoner of S.H.I.E.L.D. One, he’s still sporting crazy eyes for her. Unfortunately, it’s not season one’s smoldering desire crazy or cold indifferent crazy; his eyes are filled with desperation bordering on madness. It’s a sad sight and I’m immediately put off of Prisoner Ward. As is Skye, until her eyes fall on his wrists.

While captive, Ward has managed to try to kill himself at least three times. He did mix his methods up – attempt by button, paper and wall – but if finding good agents is this hard, the world is doomed. Skye’s cool resolve to go on hating Ward falters for a minute, but mine does not.

Yes, all the information he provides her about The Crusher turns out to be accurate and his crazy eyes glisten with unshed tears of remorse. He’s still the Ward that threw himself out of a plane to save Simmons to gain the trust of everyone aboard the plane. He’s certainly capable of knowing exactly how deep he could cut or how hard he could hit the wall to ensure it was an attempt to take his own life and not succeed. Ward forged a fake brotherhood with Fitz and a sexual relationship with May to cloud their thinking and cast off any doubts that may come up.

May thinks Ward is looking to fill Skye’s head with lies. Me? I think he wants to fill Skye’s head with truths and have her fill everyone else’s with lies.

One thing is for sure, he fooled us once and now we can’t be sure of anything Ward does. Manipulation or remorse? He may not even know yet.

Final Straw: What Can Not Be Forgiven

Ward sexed up May under false pretenses. He shot an innocent, disabled man to cover up Garret’s identity as the Clairvoyant. He commiserated with Agent Triplett, whose partner really was killed by Garrett. He allowed Fitz-Simmons to be kidnapped and tormented. He killed Agent Hand. Ward allowed Garrett to hold people captive and do evil things to keep their loved ones safe. He lied to, and was liked by, everyone on Team Coulson.

Over hiatus, many lively “discussions” took place among Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans. Was this too much to be forgiven? The intimate betrayal of a lover and best friend? The death of an innocent, paralyzed man and a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent?

Sex is one of the best weapons there is and Agent May, being one of the deadliest warriors, certainly knew that. Maybe she even used it herself a time or two, certainly Agent Romanoff has. As much as I enjoy evil Ward, I can’t say it makes him irredeemable.

Friendship is also used to turn an asset and so, though I hold it against him, I couldn’t say betraying Fitz was irredeemable. Or commiserating with Triplett,

Throwing Fitz-Simmons from the plane to die? Again, not so easily forgiven. The aftermath of tossing them to wind; the heartbreaking moment where we realize that Simmons has left Team Coulson and Fitz is descending into a world of his own, hallucinating his friend and recovery? NOT FORGIVABLE.

Except we know (well, hope) that eventually, Simmons will find a way to bring Fitz out of it. If that happens, Ward becomes redeemable right? We can ship SkyeWard without guilt.

Not for me. Though I love Team Coulson and was particularly outraged over the Ward’s betrayal of Fitz-Simmons, May and Triplett, those crimes pale in light of a victim whose name I don’t even remember. Where Ward crossed the line, at the rate of a speeding bullet, was when he killed a helpless man, bedridden and hooked to machines.

With a heart that cold, one has to wonder if maybe Ward’s family was telling the truth and he was the one torturing them. Perhaps Garrett, who planned to use Ward as a more efficient weapon of mass destruction, was turned into a fall guy so that Ward could take his rightful place. All he has to do now is convince Skye to hear his truths and fight by his side.

Do you think Ward can be redeemed? Or maybe you believe none of us will ever really know Ward’s true motivations. Head over to the forum and tell us what you’re thinking