Joss Whedon Talks ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D'; Promises To ‘Earn’ Coulson’s Return

Published 2 years ago by

agents shield coulson joss whedon Joss Whedon Talks Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D; Promises To Earn Coulsons Return

Many a character has died only to later be resurrected – be they heroes, villains, or even sidekicks – throughout the history of comic books. That move is often seen as being a cop-out at best (a soap opera-style “cheat” at the worst) when it comes to television, and presents an uphill challenge for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. TV series.

The show’s mastermind, Joss Whedon, has so far managed to dance around many a journalist’s question, when it concerns how the upcoming show will bring Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) back into the fold; that is, without completely trivializing the character’s death at Loki’s hands in The Avengers. Indded, that issue may be one of the more important character sub-plots that drives the over-arching narrative in the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show’s first season.

Whedon offered the following, when asked about Coulson’s “resurrection” on the EW InsideTV podcast:

“Well, it’s a very interesting explanation… We’re gonna earn it, that’s not something you take lightly.”

Fans (our writing staff included) have put together multiple theories to explain how Coulson is still alive – ranging from elaborate ideas about him being a cyborg zombie to simply “He never died in the first place” – and Gregg has suggested that even Coulson doesn’t start the show knowing the truth about what happened to him. Whedon and his fellow showrunners will very much need to “earn” the final answer to this riddle, but the process of answering it probably shouldn’t be dragged out for too long – lest it result in an unsatisfying payoff for all the build-up (or worse, the show’s equivalent of a running joke).

Agent Coulson Maria Hill Avengers Joss Whedon Talks Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D; Promises To Earn Coulsons Return

‘Hey, remember that time Loki killed me? Those were the days…’

On a relate note: Whedon has emphasized many times (approaching ad nauseum territory now) that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to stand on its own, apart from – but still connected to – the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. That will allow for any future cameos by well-established superheroes – or, rather, the absence of such ‘guest appearances’ – to not feel like a gimmick or pandering to fans (or, in the latter case, an awkward dodge).

As Whedon told EW:

“It’s very important to me that the show stands on its own, that people who never saw any of the movies can tune in and enjoy it. We like being a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we like having all of the mythos to play off of. But if the show was “You just missed Tony Stark, wow, he was just here!” it would be the most unsatisfying show ever. We have a new ensemble, apart from Clark, it’s all people I’ve never worked with before, but I’m really excited about them, I’m really proud of them and I think people are just going to want to see them every week.”

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. trailer emphasizes the ensemble nature of Whedon’s series – which is reminiscent of his previous TV shows (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and so on) – and thematic elements that beckon back to television series such as The X-Files, with its focus on moralistic protagonists who are open-minded and willing to learn more about their brave new world (post-the Manhattan alien invasion in The Avengers).

j august richards character agents shield Joss Whedon Talks Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D; Promises To Earn Coulsons Return

Who is J. August Richards playing in ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?’

Similarly, Whedon has described the show as a more optimistic and “hopeful” take on a familiar scenario – where people from different backgrounds strive to make progress, in a world where science-fiction and fantasy have crossed over into their reality. (Basically, more like a Star Trek TV show, as opposed to a doom-and-gloom CSI spinoff featuring superheroes.) Fingers crossed, the series will live up to expectations.

On a final note, Whedon teased the character played by J. August Richards (Angel) – who, as revealed in the trailer, appears in the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot as a super-powered individual on the run:

“I’m not going to say who he’s playing, but he’s certainly cranky as you can tell from the trailer. It”s great, he came in to guest star and he tears it up. He’s got that kind of energy, he’s so much fun, and such a lovely guy.”

Look for the answers to these questions (and more) when the show begins airing during the Fall 2013 TV season.


Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins airing on ABC this fall on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET.

Source: EW

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
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  1. Luke cage!

  2. A simpler explanation for Coulson’s being alive is better than any elaborate construct.
    Just that he managed to survive and did not die is probably the best way to go.
    Trying too hard may be worse creating more fodder for humor and disbelief.

    • I completely agree with you. The longer it’s drawn out, and the more complex the explanation, the greater the potential for convolution and ultimately, disappointment.

      This can be resolved quickly and satisfactorily by a few shots of Coulson’s “corpse” being secretly carted off to an advanced medical facility shortly after Fury calls him dead.

  3. Maybe coulson had a marathon 12 hour surgery to repair the impalement, a surgery performed by……. STEPHEN STRANGE!

    • A little of the Doctor’s magic 😀
      Might be a better explanation
      than what we will be getting.

      • what about the possibility of him being resurrected by his cellist girlfriend? could that be how JW will get the drop on using SW/QS 1st?

    • I like that! Plus it could set up Phase 3 to boot.

    • That would be awesome. To me, it’s unlikely but I love surprises.

      • I believe the reason that wont be used is because not everyone will watch the show. If they use coulsan again in the movie it needs to be explained there so everyone knows why. The fury lieing about it is probably their best option even if its b.s to me

    • Great idea. I’m not sure why no one’s thought of that yet.

    • I agree that’d be pretty awesome. I feel like he’ll just have been resurrected by some cryptic means.

      Note that I say resurrected as opposed to him not really having died.

  4. Haha! He’s definitely ‘cranky’ … So is that Whedon confirming he is Rage?

    • I thought the same way… especially after I re-check the word ‘Cranky’ on the dictionary

    • He looks like the guy in my old neighborhood I chased out the window once trying to burglarize my crib!

      • “No whack my shack!”

  5. Hey, if Prof X can be ‘resurrected’ in the new X-Men after being obliterated into dust… why can’t Agent Coulson who still had his whole body intact right?

    • By the way, I have said it holy smokes times the square root of pi, and I’ll say it again….

    • Does no body watch till the end credits, it end with professor X asking where he is in a hospital bed. The phoenix did exactly what actually happens in many versions of this event, telaported him some where else and sends him in to a coma.

  6. Sure. It’s not like Fury didn’t lie to members of the Avengers team already regarding Coulson to give them that “push,” remember?

    I agree simpler is better.

    Perhaps Coulson was a man “barely alive.”

    Perhaps they could rebuild him.

    Make him better than he was before.

    Better. Stronger. Faster.

    Never mind.

    • Hahahaha 6 million dollar man

      If he’s not like cage I’m gonna be pissed and the show should be a platform for Easter eggs. Ps no one gives a f**k about some half ass crew of nobodies led by a dead man. I want heros and this standalone deal that jw keeps selling at bugs.

  7. ‘But if the show was “You just missed Tony Stark, wow, he was just here!” it would be the most unsatisfying show ever.’

    True, but you also have to acknowledge these people exist, else it might as well be an entirely separate entity. I hope we do get enough cameos to tie the two together.

    Also hoping that the mystery element doesn’t dominate or turn out to be pants.

    I still have faith in Joss, I still have faith.

    • This. I don’t really want it to be a mystery show. I want to see the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D out there kicking superhero/villain ass, and keeping them in check. Like they’re supposed to do. I, too, have the utmost faith in Jose Whedon. Guy has a hell of a track record.

      • Hahaha, Jose Whedon. Joss’ autocorrected cousin.

        • Give him a break he just ate at Taco Bell!
          (At least he didn’t say “Hoser”!)

  8. realy realy 8 pm up against ncis do they want this to succeed lol.hope it works and i hope the show is good but we will see

  9. Fixed up by mater doctor Donald Blake.

    • *master

  10. I think J. August Richards is playing Battlestar. Look him up. He fits the desrciption. Everyone names Luke Cage, Patriot and Rage. I personally think its Battlestar. If it’s not him it’s probably a new made up character made for the show.

  11. Thanks for the tidbits! They’re very interesting, and make for a welcome diversion in the midst of a Monday.

    HOWEVER, I would kindly appreciate the writers of this site taking more care to quickly spell-check their pieces before they submit them. I’m assuming you’re all paid journalists; please act like your pieces are worthy of the funds Screen Rant is offering for them. I’m not asking that you write to Pulitzer standards–just better than my sixth grade brother, okay?


    • Care to point out these multiple misspellings?
      Please do enumerate them. Do enlighten us.

      And judging by the quality of you post
      you are in no position to judge writing.

      • “And judging by the quality of your* post”

        You are one to talk. 😀

        • Obvious typo there, sunshine. it happens to the best writers.

          • ^It. See, another one. Doesn’t mean a damn thing.
            Content is what matters and that was my original point.
            You are defending Eliza’s defamatory post with your reply to me.

  12. I will definitely be watching this one!!

  13. god please let this show last longer than Firefly

  14. They hinted he was dating a cellist (Scarlet Witch) and the witch has reality-altering powers. Introduce her (and screw Fox over while doing so) and have her bring Coulson back to life when she flips out after his death.

    • Scarlet Witch pretty much went bats**t crazy after Simon Williams and Vision.. THERE’S NO WAY she would be going out with a gov’t agent.. NO FUQING WAY, besides, being a mutant she is a security risk. If Coulson was screwing her then he would be drummed out of SHIELD.

      ..And if there is some kind of link between Coulson and Maximov then I call PURE b*******.

      • Well, better start calling bullsh** bc they already said that Coulson was dating her. If she could date Vision, why is it such a big stretch that she would date Coulson? They already said she wasn’t going to be a mutant bc Marvel can’t use that. They could have her be a woman with incredible reality-altering powers that she doesn’t understand.

        Also, if she had already been dating him, like Avengers said, then she could be devastated when she finds he died. Her devastation caused M Day in the comics (as well as many other things) so her going crazy and resurrecting Coulson seems like a perfect idea. Or have him come back as the Vision and have her start to date him as an AI, but we’ve already seen that Coulson was a regular guy in the SHIELD previews so that would be a tough sell.

  15. I dont see how this show jives without known super heroes. Iam sure they are going to say that the dead coulson was a life model decoy.w

  16. Don’t think it’s luke cage as he couldnt jump high as in the video(and would also like to see iron fist in there as well) . so maybe the black panther,