While talking to press at the Iron Man 3 world premiere, Joss Whedon, director of The Avengers and overseer of Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, could not avoid questions about his upcoming television series. Based in the same universe as the Marvel Studios films, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. follows a group of non-superpowered agents as they deal with the extraordinary issues the world faces in a post-Avengers reality.
Everyone knows aliens and Norse gods exist, but not everyone knows about how Agent Phil Coulson is alive and well. The Avengers may not know how the fan-favorite character played by Clark Gregg returns, but we now do.
What lays ahead are specific plot details and spoilers for The Avengers as well as the major reveal of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot.
While promoting Trust Me at the Tribeca Film Festival, Clark Gregg – who also writes and directs – chatted with us about his role in Joss Whedon’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Knowing that the live-action Marvel television series takes place in the same universe as the films and that it’s based after The Avengers, we wanted to know how his seemingly return from death would play out and the implications of such a feat would have on the films and other characters.
He joked about all the online theories, ranging from Coulson returning as the character Vision, and talked about how Coulson’s body was never shown, and how his (somehow bloody) Captain America cards were actually in his locker. As for what his return means for the headlining heroes? Gregg:
“It would be surprising to me if this was a world where there wasn’t some reckoning for the fact that it’d be … you know, some level of deception must have been perpetrated on the Avengers.”
Deception was already presented by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in how he used the (covered in ketchup?) Captain America cards to motivate Tony Stark and Captain America to work together and do what needed to be done. According to a source of /Film, Coulson’s return from death is explained by the same plot thread.
The source claims that Fury faked Coulson’s death entirely to motivate The Avengers to – as the foreign title of the film emphasizes – assemble. Other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were involved with the cover-up but The Avengers (namely, Black Widow and Hawkeye) were not informed, not being of the proper “clearance” level. Coulson was put in hiding until for quite sometime until assigned his new task. Him faking the death and going silent is frowned upon by certain other S.H.I.E.L.D. members in the show.
The explanation does play up the idea of just how much of a believer Agent Coulson is for the cause, and his return in must result in an inevitable reappearance in the films as well. In Iron Man 3, Stark is unaware that Coulson is still alive, but come time for Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 2014, we expect Coulson may make a cinematic return appearance. After all, The Winter Soldier is essentially a S.H.I.E.L.D. movie and no one loves Cap more than Coulson.
We’ll find out soon if Coulson’s return really is as simple as this.
S.H.I.E.L.D. is expected to be picked up by ABC for a Fall 2013 premiere.
Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015, and Doctor Strange sometime after that.
Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes your thoughts on Coulson returning.