Ah, Agent Coulson. If you’ve been following the Marvel Cinematic Universe for any length of time, you know that name. Played by Clark Gregg, the erstwhile S.H.I.E.L.D. agent has been a constant presence in the MCU ever since it debuted with the release of ‘Iron Man’ back in 2008. The character quickly became a fan favorite, as his appearances throughout the first wave of Marvel films provided the burgeoning universe with a degree of connective tissue. And of course, it was his death that ultimately moved the Avengers to unite against Loki.
And that should have been the end of it, but in comics and comics-inspired media, matters are seldom that simple. Following ‘The Avengers’, a revived Coulson found himself at the center of the MCU’s first television series, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’. Coulson and his team, however, have largely acted in the background, leaving the Avengers ignorant of their friend’s survival. But will they ever find out? It’s a question that has loomed large over ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ from Day One, and certainly one that the show’s cast and crew are very conscious of. Indeed, Clark Gregg himself has addressed the issue, of which he had this to say:
“It is an ever present theme. It’s really touching how much the fans stay obsessed with the idea of when the Avengers are going to learn Coulson’s alive. It’s something that… I don’t know, I find that so touching! I think the Avengers have moved on, they’re busy.
But also I think it’s a great credit to the show and the characters and the actors who brought these characters to life and to our production team, to Mark Kolpack’s visual effects and to the great writing of our writers, Jed (Whedon), Mo (Tancharoen), and Jeff (Bell), because I think there’s a growing number of people who kind of feel like this feels like a part of that bigger world and they want to see the various worlds – whether it’s the incredible Netflix world of New York, they just want at some point to feel that this is one big story, which I still believe it is. And you know, when the time is right, who knows?”
Who knows, indeed? The biggest take away from that might be the simple fact that it’s not a “no.” Going into ‘Age of Ultron’, for example, writer/director Joss Whedon left little doubt that as far as the Avengers were concerned, Coulson was dead and that wasn’t likely to change any time soon. While that status quo may not have changed much in the intervening years, Gregg’s comments about telling that story when the time is right may themselves be telling. After all, the MCU has some big things ahead of it.
For ‘Agents of SHIELD’, the “big thing” (at least in the short term), is the series’ hundredth episode is due to hit roughly in the middle of the new season. While we can only speculate, that would be as good a time as any for an Avenger or two to drop by. And then in terms of the wider universe, there’s ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, which is perhaps the big event to end all big events. But more to the point, ‘Infinity War’ and ‘Avengers 4’ are being touted as a something of a finale for the MCU to date, representing not only the culmination of ten years of set up but also a presumed exit point for several of the MCU’s foundational characters (or at the very least, the actors who have brought them to life). In other words, there may not be much time left in which to tell that story.
But what do you think? Are you happy with the status quo or would you like to see the Avengers reunite with Coulson? And if so, how would you like to see that story play out? As always, let us know in the comments!
‘Agents of SHIELD’ will return to ABC with the two-hour premiere of its fifth season at 8:00 pm eastern time on Friday, December 1, 2017.