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Isabelle Hartley

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"Coulson knows Hartley. She's the only person on your team he trusts."
"But why'd you break Silhouette Protocol?"
"He ordered us to."
Skye, Isabelle Hartley, and Melinda May[src]

Isabelle "Izzy" Hartley was a longtime agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Despite the heavy casualties S.H.I.E.L.D. took during HYDRA's attack on the agency, she stayed loyal to her oath and continued her service in the remains of S.H.I.E.L.D. under Robert Gonzales. However, as another faction of S.H.I.E.L.D. led by Phil Coulson emerged, she was sent alongside Bobbi Morse and Alphonso Mackenzie to infiltrate it. Working undercover, she established her own team alongside mercenaries Lance Hunter and Idaho. She was later killed when she was forced to touch the Obelisk while being attacked by Carl Creel.

Biography

Early Life and Career

Izzy and Jane

Isabelle and Jane Hartley

Isabelle Hartley was very close to her sister, Jane, and the pair were often considered to be inseparable, with them both also being close friends of Lance Hunter and his wife, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Bobbi Morse, with that couple often confiding in Isabelle and trusting her with their personal secrets. Their mother died of breast cancer, which Jane later contracted. Isabelle was given her mother's necklace and kept it beside a picture of her sister.[1]

Mercenary Work

"It may come as a surprise to you, but I was very close to Isabelle Hartley. You see, she saved my life in this very facility. HYDRA had me dead to rights."
Robert Gonzales to Lance Hunter[src]

Isabelle Hartley joined S.H.I.E.L.D., spending most of her career working as an undercover agent and meeting mercenaries. One of these missions took her to Budapest along with the two mercenaries, Lance Hunter and Idaho.[2] Hartley hated guns and preferred to carry blades as a weapon; she would often claim that she was saving her bullets for the real fight whenever someone questioned her about it.[3]

HYDRA Uprising

Battle on the Iliad

Isabelle-Hartley-Flashback-knife-throw

Hartley kills the Lead HYDRA Agent

"We gotta get you a gun one of these days."
"Saving my bullets for the real fight."
Bobbi Morse and Isabelle Hartley[src]

Hartley was aboard the aircraft carrier Iliad and helped save the lives of a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, including Alphonso Mackenzie, with the help of agent Bobbi Morse. Hartley used her skill with knives to throw her knife into the Lead HYDRA Agent's neck while Morse distracted him. Together they went in search of the commander of the ship, Robert Gonzales. Hartley fought her way through many HYDRA agents, killing them all with her knife.

Isabelle-Hartely-flashback

Hartley and Bobbi Morse battle HYDRA

Eventually they located Gonzales in the ship's conference room, after he had nearly been assassinated by HYDRA agents. Together they repaired his wounded leg, which had been injured with an axe and Morse revealed that Nick Fury had given her a secret mission to destroy the ship so that HYDRA never got their hands on the highly dangerous cargo that the ship was carrying. Morse handed Hartley a small necklace with the words "Franny's Saloon" inscribed on it and asked her to give it to Lance Hunter; Hartley reminded her that Hunter would be furious at the gesture.

Isabelle-Hartley-Robert-Gonzales

Hartley with Robert Gonzales

Gonzales, however, refused to let her go alone, so together with Hartley, they made their way to the control room. Along the way Hartley received a call from Victoria Hand informing her that the Hub was secure following the battle that occurred there. Once they arrived in the control room; however, they had a change of heart and, rather than destroy the ship, they instead vowed to retake the ship to ensure that the other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were not killed. Hartley joined them in the firefight and eventually the agents were successful in retaking the ship.[4]

Gonzales' S.H.I.E.L.D.

Hartley joined Robert Gonzales when he created his own faction of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents after the HYDRA Uprising. Learning that Phil Coulson had created a faction as well, Gonzales sent Hartley to infiltrate Coulson's group to gather intelligence.[5] Hartley was accompanied by Lance Hunter on the request of Bobbi Morse; Hunter had no idea though what Hartley's true mission entailed.[6]

War on HYDRA

Searching for the Obelisk

Isabelle-Hartley-Lance-Hunter

Hartley and Hunter question Roger Browning

"I know your reputation; I'm sure you'll be fine. What I don't appreciate is you changing the terms on me now."
"We're asking for clarification, Browning; you're the one who changed the terms bringing more than the two guards we agreed upon."
Roger Browning and Isabelle Hartley[src]

On one of her missions for Phil Coulson, she went undercover with the mercenaries Idaho and Lance Hunter to obtain information from ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Roger Browning about a level Ten 0-8-4. Hartley offered Browning a large sum of money for the intel although Hunter questioned if he had provided them with enough information and Hartley noted he had brought more guards than they had agreed upon.

IsabelleHartley-calls-Coulson

Hartley updates Director Phil Coulson

The negotiation was interrupted by Carl Creel, who had been mistaken for an extra guard for Browning. Creel killed Browning by snapping his neck while Hartley and her team shot him, however Creel seemingly absorbed the bullets before escaping through a window with the file. Before Browning's last remaining guard could retaliate, he was shot by an I.C.E.R. fired by Melinda May. Hartley called Coulson to update him on Browning's death and for further orders, they were simply ordered to "go dark".

Isabelle-Hartley-Lance-Hunter-Shadows

Hartley in a meeting with Phil Coulson

Hartley and her team arrived back at the Playground and were called for a meeting with Phil Coulson. Hartley tried to ensure that Lance Hunter and Idaho kept quiet during their meeting, with little success. Hartley updated Coulson on their attacker and his powers, during their meeting Melinda May arrived and confirmed that the attacker was Carl Creel, who records claimed had been killed by John Garrett. Knowing Garrett recruited Creel confirmed him to be an assassin working for HYDRA.

Shadows1

Hartley and Hunter capture Glenn Talbot

When S.H.I.E.L.D. learnt that HYDRA was planning on using Creel to assassinate Brigadier General Glenn Talbot, Coulson's team intervened. They were able to warn Talbot of the incoming attack, giving him time to defend himself against Creel. Melinda May then arrived and fought Creel until Skye shot him with a stun gun allowing him to be arrested by Talbot's soldiers. Hartley and Lance Hunter arrived, disguised as members of the United States Armed Forces. They tricked Talbot, who was too distracted by watching Creel's arrest, into following them and Talbot was taken away by S.H.I.E.L.D. for questioning.

Isabelle-Hartley-Lance-Hunter-SHIELD

Hartley questions Coulson's methods

After Coulson questioned Talbot for a while, he let him go free and dropped him off in the middle of nowhere; when Talbot called for assistance, S.H.I.E.L.D. was able to trace the call to learn the exact location of both Carl Creel and the 0-8-4. As they prepared to find and secure the weapon, Hartley questioned their reasons for attacking the base, arguing that it was likely in the safest place possible and it was foolish to risk every field agent S.H.I.E.L.D. had left; Hunter agreed. Skye however argued that the US Military is unequipped to handle such dangerous items.[2]

Infiltration into the Government Storage Warehouse

IsabelleHartley-finds-0-8-4

Hartley locates the 0-8-4

"This thing is killing me; I can feel it. I need you to cut it off, or I won't make it to the hospital. It's no big deal; you've seen what they can do with robotics these days."
―Isabelle Hartley to Lance Hunter[src]

Hartley, her team, as well as Agents Skye and Melinda May infiltrated a Government Storage Warehouse by hacking into their computer systems and began to search for the 0-8-4 while Idaho awaited them in their car. After a brief search Hartley discovered the 0-8-4, which was revealed to be some kind of metal Obelisk and reported it to the rest of the team.

Hartley-vs-AbsorbingMan

Hartley battles the Absorbing Man

As she opened the decades old case, she was attacked by the Absorbing Man who had escaped his cage and followed her. Hartley immediately used a knife to try and kill him, but he was able to turn his body to steel and deflect her blows. With no other choice, Hartley grabbed the Obelisk to defend herself, intending to see what it's deadly power really was; however the moment that she touched it, it started to incinerate her forearm, causing her unbearable pain while Creel watched in horror.

IsabelleHartley-pain-Obelisk

Hartley touches the Obelisk

Lance Hunter arrived and began to shoot at Creel, causing him to flee. When the rest of the team arrived they desperately tried to free her from the Obelisk's deadly power; however, she found it was impossible for her to let go. The military soon arrived, Skye called Phil Coulson for orders on wether to seek medical care for Hartley or to continue the mission, effectively allowing her to die. Although Coulson ordered the team to continue the mission, Hartley's team disobeyed and fled to get her medical attention.

Isabelle-Hartley-Dying

Hartley orders Hunter to cut her arm off

Knowing that the Obelisk was killing her and she would not reach a doctor in time no matter how fast Idaho drove, Hartley handed Lance Hunter her knife and ordered him cut off her arm before the Obelisk could kill her. Hunter objected, insisting that they would be able to reach a doctor, but Hartley told him that she could feel that Obelisk was killing her and she did not want to die, noting that she would likely be able to get a new bionic arm which Hunter joked would likely be an upgrade for her.

Isabelle-Hartley-Death

Hartely is killed by the Absorbing Man

Hunter managed to cut off Hartley's arm, saving her life. Idaho looked back to make sure she had survived the operation, when he looked back Carl Creel was in the middle of the road. Before he could change direction Creel transformed into concrete and the SUV crashed into him, causing a massive car crash. Although Hunter survived, both Hartley and Idaho sustained severe head injuries, killing them both. Creel picked up the Obelisk which was still attached to Hartley's severed arm.[2]

Hunter's Revenge

Hunter got captured by Glenn Talbot. Hunter discussed with Talbot that he did not want Hartley to have a pauper's burial. Hunter struck a deal with Talbot so Hartley and Idaho could receive an honorable funeral. Hartley's possessions were being packed by Skye when Hunter returned to the Playground. He talked to Skye about the past and his friendship with Izzy and her sister. When Creel's location was discovered, Hunter went with the other field agents to apprehend him. He shot them with an I.C.E.R. and attacked Creel himself. Later, Director Coulson made sure Hartley had a military funeral. At the funeral, he explained to Hunter that he understood his pain for his friend. [1] Alphonso Mackenzie wondered if Hunter was replacing Hartley on the mission that he shared with Bobbi Morse, after he saw the couple growing closer. Morse told him that he was not involved.[5]

Abilities

  • Expert Martial Artist: Hartley is a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, using powerful combative moves to defeat several HYDRA operatives.
  • Knife Mastery: Hartley is extremely skilled in using her knife, always carrying it with her and disliked using guns, only using them when her knife does not work. She killed many HYDRA operatives with her knife.

Equipment

Weapons

"It's heavier than I thought."
Bobbi Morse, lifting Hartley's knife[src]
Last stand

Relationships

Family

Allies

Enemies

Appearances

Appearances for Isabelle Hartley

In chronological order:

Trivia

  • Hartley is partly based on a character from the comics referred to only as "Isabelle" and whose sole appearance was in flashbacks in Dark Avengers #11. There, she was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and the former girlfriend of Victoria Hand. Even though it was initially intended by the writers of the show to address Hartley's relationship with Hand, ultimately, it was decided that they would not delve into that story element because of the character's purpose on the specific episode in which she appeared but also because of both her and Hand's eventual fate on the show, out of fear of backlash from the LGBTQA community for introducing the first of such characters into the MCU, only to immediately have them killed.[7] In a later appearance of the character in flashback scenes, there was a vague reference to her relationship with Hand, where Hartley referred to Hand as "Vic", indicating that not only they knew each other but that they were also close.[4]
  • Hartley is one of only three humans to survive physical contact with Diviner metal, the others being Carl Creel and Phil Coulson. However, Creel caused her death seconds after the danger posed by the Diviner had passed.

References

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