The Avengers were deceived, as actor Clark Gregg told us, and at some point down the line, Earth’s Mightiest may have to face the reality that Gregg’s fan-favorite character of Agent Coulson is still alive.

In the meantime, Coulson returns as the leader of the super secret (Level 7 clearance!) S.H.I.E.L.D. team in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. And by “return” we mean return from the dead. Coulson was literally stabbed in the back by Loki during the events of The Avengers and SHIELD boss Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) took advantage of the situation to unite The Avengers.

How he survived is not explained in the pilot so we’ve gathered most of the theories fans and ourselves have come up with. Since Gregg said he’s yet to see the correct theory online, we’ve expanded our list to 10 to include more extreme stories from the depths of Marvel Comics lore.

“I think that the answer people will get is cooler than anything I’ve ever read.” – Gregg tells E!

Keep that in mind as we explore 10 theories for how Agent Coulson survived the events of The Avengers

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