With Marvel Studios moving full steam ahead with two big budget 3D blockbusters debuting next summer in Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, followed by The Avengers in 2012, there is one organization that will tie together all of these heroes and their journeys: S.H.I.E.L.D.
We were introduced to the film version of the top secret organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) back in 2008 by two characters in Iron Man, the first self-financed Marvel Studios movie. Those key characters were of course Samuel J. Jackson’s Nick Fury and Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson, the two agents acting as the constants between each Marvel Studios project.
We’ve known for a long time that Gregg’s character, Agent Coulson, would have a role in Thor after his return in Iron Man 2 – Marvel Studios is all about the cameos and crossovers – and he even made a big appearance on stage at Comic-Con, as one of the members of the cast of The Avengers, solidifying his importance to the Marvel film universe. Techland had a chance to speak with Clark Gregg while he was promoting the home video releases of Iron Man 2 and they touched on his character and what parts he has to play as we move into the next chapter of the Marvel Studios film universe.
The next Marvel movie to hit theaters will be Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Thor, starring Chris Hemsworth in the titular role. Agent Coulson’s role is significantly expanded here as compared to his brief scenes in the Iron Man series to date.
“How much can I say without being attacked by one of the Marvel spy satellites? [I have] a more prominent role in Thor, a bigger job to take care of than I have in the Iron Man movies, in that Agent Coulson has been doing some legwork for Nick Fury in Iron Man and basically babysitting bad boy Tony Stark a bit in Iron Man 2, but when the hammer shows up in the desert of New Mexico, it’s my operation. Whatever happens, it’s my problem.”
With Captain America taking place during the 1940s, it’s unlikely Coulson will play a role, and Greg jokingly said that he pitched the idea to Marvel that he could play his own grandfather in the movie, to keep his streak going. All jokes aside, it’s possible that while Coulson is recruiting and dealing with the Thor situation, his boss Nick Fury is handling Captain America. There’s a good chance Fury may show up fighting alongside Steve Rogers in WWII and that movie’s story may conclude in modern times with Cap awakening to the world we know through Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, where he may meet our other heroes, Fury and maybe even Agent Coulson…
Since we’ve seen hints of all the films tying together, from the brief scene of Captain America: The First Avenger shown at Comic-Con, revealing the Red Skull’s search for Odin’s Jewel (Thor reference!) to Tony Stark having prototypes of Captain America’s shield in the Iron Man movies, now we’re going to see even more inter-connectivity between the next Marvel movies, starting with Thor. Says Clark Gregg on the matter:
“I haven’t seen a cut of Thor yet, I’ve only seen the trailer. I think it’s safe to say that, having seen the Iron Man movies and read early drafts of Thor, that everything in this Marvel Universe is part of a grander scheme and it seems, at least, a first act of this giant epic that they’re attempting really seems to be culminating in The Avengers, so you’re going to see some of the elements of Thor paying off in the Avengers movie.”
This is certainly the most interesting statement to come from the chat with Gregg, specifically when he mentions that the “first act of this giant epic” occurs in The Avengers. It’s no surprise that The Avengers will drive the franchise into spawning many other movies, many that we’ve already seen enter early development (Dr. Strange, Iron First, etc.) but if they (or most) tie into a bigger story arc, then we can start imagining the bigger picture and structure behind it all. It’s a sure-thing The Avengers will have sequels and perhaps then we can see characters like Ant-Man, Wasp, Black Panther and others join the crew.
The Avengers will introduce to us our heroes joining together, and learning to work as a team as we are also introduced to a greater threat for which none of these heroes can stand against alone. But this enemy may be but a minion of the great overarching enemy who we could see in sequels – at least, that’s the plan should Marvel bank well at the box office.
Such a large behind-the-scenes story also provides a place for a SHIELD movie to exist. How about a movie starring Agent Coulson? They’re already in talks with Scarlett Johansson for a possible Black Widow spinoff…
“I’m ready. I’m waiting for that call. Definitely Agent Coulson is really shrewd, he doesn’t get into fights that he can’t win. So he’s waiting for the right moment, for a feeble enough opponent to come along. Certainly in Thor, there are some exciting moments involving Agent Coulson. I’m not going to say another word.”
That won’t happen but I’m definitely interested in a potential SHIELD movie for which Samuel L. Jackson hinted at as a potential film shooting next year and for which Marvel President Kevin Feige showed an interest in.
There’s limitless potential here and that’s no doubt a big part of why Disney wanted to jump into the action in acquiring Marvel. The trick will be to ensure each movie is good so we all desire more.
Thor opens May 5, 2011; The First Avenger: Captain America hits July 22, 2011 and The Avengers is scheduled to debut May 4, 2012.