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The Inhumans are a scourge! The Watchdogs have the right idea, so I struck a deal with them. Help them hunt and kill every Inhuman. Hunted like the animals that we are. And I'm gonna be the last one to go.
~ Hellfire betraying S.H.I.E.L.D., revealing his true colors.

James Taylor "J.T." James, or also better known as Hellfire, is a recurring antagonist in the TV series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., being a major antagonist in the second half of Season 3 and a minor antagonist in the Ghost Rider arc in Season 4.

A former mercenary who desired to be Inhuman, James got his wish by finally going through Terrigenesis, but was also however swayed by the ancient Inhuman Hive and forced to follow his every command and assist in his plans. After Hive's death, James, tormented by the after-effects of being brainwashed, aligned himself with the Watchdogs and desired revenge against Daisy Johnson for letting Hive control him.

He is portrayed by Axle Whitehead.

Biography

Past

J.T. James was an Australian mercenary and a demolitions expert before being identified as an Inhuman descendant, and he was brought to Afterlife by the teleporting Inhuman Gordon. However James never fit into the community of Afterlife as he became more frustrated about not being granted Terrigenesis. Eventually, after he snuck into the Afterlife's records archive and learned of an ancient Inhuman who possessed people, Jiaying, the safe haven's leader, caught him and immediately banished him, therefore robbing him of his chance to go through Terrigenesis, which infuriated James.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Paradise Lost

While living in the middle of South Dakota alone in a house built with wire fences and protected by land mines, James was visited by Lincoln Campbell and Daisy Johnson, whom he ordered to leave before they regretted it, stepping outside with his rifle. Johnson took another step and accidentally stood on a mine; James reminded her that he had warned her not to take another step. While Campbell tried to help her, James commented on how he always knew Jiaying would send somebody for him, although he had assumed it would actually be Gordon. Johnson revealed herself as an Inhuman and destroyed the mine along with the others, just before Lincoln uses his powers to knock out James.

He later wakes up in his home where he happily learns Jiaying and Gordon are dead and Afterlife is destroyed. Lincoln then offers him Terrigenesis in exchange for information on an powerful Inhuman controlling HYDRA director Grant Ward. He agrees and shows them a Kree artifact before explaining that it belonged to an ancient Inhuman known as Alveus who led the rebellion that freed the Inhumans. He then further explained that the Inhumans were afraid of him and they allied themselves with regular humans to banish him to the planet Maveth. He then asks for the crystal but Lincoln betrays him and takes the orb and they both leave, but not before James mocks him about what happened with his last girlfriend.

The Singularity

James finds Daisy Johnson at his front door and is surprised to find Hive, the Inhuman he told her and Lincoln about, was standing right behind her. James is skeptical about trusting Hive, who then demands to know where the Kree artifact's companion piece is. He tries to decline this, but Johnson then drops a Terrigen Crystal and puts him through Terrigenesis. After awakening from his Terrigen tusk, James learns that make objects explode by touching them. Hive then immediately "sways" him with his parasites and makes him reveal where the companion piece is.

He later helps them kidnap Holden Radcliffe and fights off S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Alphonso Mackenzie, while also trying to decide what his nickname should be. Mackenzie eventually escapes. The following day, he finally decides that his name is "Hellfire" before listening to Hive reveal his plans of recreating the Kree experiments that gave created the Inhuman race. When asking if they bought them a house to begin their plans, Hive replied that he instead used Gideon Malick's money to buy them an entire town.

Failed Experiments

Enjoying his time at the town, now named Union City with the other Inhumans, James drank beer and played pinball with Daisy and explained that he lived away from civilization because he didn't like them and wasn't well liked himself, before admitting that he did feel lonely. After trying to dance with Daisy, he said he didn't understand why she was vouching for S.H.I.E.L.D. if they were trying to stop what they and Hive are intending on doing. She then said that they force their plan upon them.

He was then met with a Melinda May, oblivious to the fact that she was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and quickly demonstrated his powers. He then played pool with her before drunkenly and arrogantly revealing to her about where in the town that Hive could be. After gaining the information she needed, May then knocks him out.

Emancipation

James helps Hive ambush some Watchdogs with his new fiery chain, so they can test the newly improved virus. He later brings them to Radcliffe and locks them in a storage container and overhears their screams as the virus floods into the container. They later open it up and are shocked to see them become mutated Primitives, with James saying that Radcliffe "over-cooked" them. After they demonstrating their strength and obedience, Hive then ordered the doctor to create more. Although James agrees with Radcliffe that they are not good-looking, the doctor reluctantly agrees to do so.

Taking some time away from the base to collect some beers, James returned to discover that the Inhuman Lash had infiltrated the base and had attempted to kill Hive. James stealthy walks up behind him, who had his back turned on the Quinjet while freeing Daisy of Hive's control, and stabbed him through the back with his flaming chain, fatally wounding the beast. Johnson managed to use what little strength she had left to hit him back with a powerful shockwave and escape in the Quinjet.

Absolution

After assisting Hive in taking over a missile silo to complete his master plan, James stands alongside him, Radcliffe and Giyera as they await the launch to spread the Absolution Virus. However, S.H.I.E.L.D. stops the launch, infuriating Hive. He and Giyera later find Hive screaming on the floor in pain after his brain was fried by S.H.I.E.L.D. They both offered to help him, but Hive was only able to give them the order to remove the warhead so they can still proceed with the plan. After a crate full of the virus is stored at S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Playground HQ, they detonate it, infecting a majority of the agents into Primitives.

Ascension

James and Giyera arrive at the Playground and they, Hive and the Primitives hijack Zephyr One to use it as the new missile so the virus can spread. James then asked Hive if Johnson was back on the team, but Hive says she was insurance so S.H.I.E.L.D. wouldn't shoot them down. He then sees the cockpit of the plane and seems uncertain do to its possible complicated schematics, but Hive, having Ward and Will Daniels' piloting skills, remained confident. As they took off, Hive explained that they set the warhead to detonate and destroy the Zephyr at a certain altitude to spread the virus, while they will escape with Containment Module.

James then starts questioning Hive about whether or not they can improve the formula of the virus so the Primitives can look more less mutated. Hive ignored this request and after learning that Giyera was found shot dead, he orders him to find any stowaways on board. James later ambushed and attacked Campbell, knocking him into a corner; however, Campbell's training allowed him to defeat James with a blast of electricity before Melinda May knocked him out with a solid punch. However, James left Campbell with a bomb which fatally wounded him. This drove Campbell to sacrifice himself to kill Hive as he knew he was dying because of James.

Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire

Following Hive's death, James had been tormented from the after-effects and began blaming Daisy Johnson for ensuring it to happen. After being signed onto the Sokovia Accords, he contacted the Watchdogs so they can use it to hunt down and kill any listed Inhumans, in exchange for him being the last one to die.

Months after the events with Hive, he was approached by Daisy Johnson and Jemma Simmons while he was working at a fireworks shop, who warned him of Watchdogs coming to kill him. Not wanting them to know of his betrayal yet, he declined help from them. After Daisy offered him a chance to fight them for closure, James took this opportunity to get his long-awaited revenge and tells them to meet up with him at the storage lockers.

That night, he arrives at the lockers and after he opens one, they are ambushed by Watchdogs, in which he reveals his allegiance. He angrily tells Daisy that he hates her for helping Hive mind-control him and that Inhumans are a "scourge". They quickly escape and hide in a nearby storage locker. James, however, finds them and just as he is about to kill them with a fiery chain, he is confronted by Ghost Rider, who takes it off him. They fight and fall into a room full of fireworks which blows up the building. Ghost Rider then brings James out alive and hands him into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.

Following S.H.I.E.L.D.'s collapse at the hands of Anton Ivanov and Aida, it is currently unknown if James was still in S.H.I.E.L.D. or military custody.

Personality

James is a person who loves to hear the sound of his own voice. Maybe because he has spent so much time alone or because he does not like people enough to be talkative to them, James tries to get his point said as fast and as unsubtle as possible. He does not keep the slightest thought to himself, including throwing insults to Lincoln Campbell and openly mocking whoever he meets, including Hive.

This lack of self-control caused Jiaying to deem him unworthy of Terrigenesis, causing him to hate her and other Inhumans associated with her and Afterlife, especially Gordon and Lincoln Campbell. After gaining powers, James himself admitted that nothing changed about him; thus, Melinda May was able to manipulate him for her own means during an undercover mission.

James became an emotional wreck after his liberation from Hive's influence. Unlike Daisy Johnson, who became the vigilante Quake and helped people, he began to hate not only himself but Inhumans in general. He ended up betraying all Inhumans by giving the Watchdogs access to his tracking watch in exchange for being the last Inhuman to die.

Powers and Abilities

Powers

After undergoing Terrigenesis and achieving his genetic potential, James became an Inhuman and gained superhuman powers.

  • Explosive Touch: As demonstrated numerous times, James can cause objects to explode by simply touching them, like alcohol bottles, pool balls and glass cups. He also used this power to fatal wound Lincoln Campbell, which prompted the latter to later sacrifice himself.
  • Heat Manipulation: James has also shown to light specific items on fire, most particularly metal. This is demonstrated as he used this power to light a metal chain on fire which became so hot that it was able to burn through Lash's chest.

Abilities

  • Demolitions Expertise: Even before getting his powers, James was already an expert in using demolitions.

Trivia

  • In the comics, James Taylor James was an American store clerk and alleged descendant of western hero Carter Slade, with the ability to control supernatural flames. He was a member of the Secret Warriors and a romantic interest of Daisy Johnson, until he betrayed the team for HYDRA and is later killed by Nick Fury.
  • James states that he considered "Firestarter" as an alias, but that he decided against it because it "felt a little '90s". This is a reference to the song "Firestarter" by The Prodigy.
    • He also considered "Inferno" and "Scorch", both of which are common codenames for pyrokinetic individuals in the comics. Unbeknownst to him, however, "Scorch" had previously been used by another villain with fire-based powers.

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