Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson Will Return in ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ TV Series

Published 3 years ago by , Updated June 13th, 2014 at 10:02 am,

Marvel SHIELD Pilot Agent Coulson Clark Greggs Agent Coulson Will Return in S.H.I.E.L.D. TV Series

It was the moment of The Avengers that fans never saw coming, and won’t soon forget. But while director Joss Whedon may have had Clark Gregg’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson pay the ultimate price to have the Avengers assemble, Whedon will be giving him a second life. Marvel announced at New York Comic-Con that Coulson will be returning in the pilot of the upcoming ABC series, S.H.I.E.L.D.

Details are slim beyond a presence in the first episode of the show, but that’s all fans need to have their faith in the surprise star of Marvel’s ‘Phase One’ restored.

We won’t presume to question the decision to kill off one of the most beloved characters that Marvel had stumbled upon, since the scene served its purpose in uniting the Avengers with a dose of poignancy and genuine sadness. But what made the choice so strange was how Whedon’s “man crush” on Clark Gregg was cut so short, just as it was showing the most promise. Originally the embodiment of S.H.I.E.L.D. – a personality-less ‘man in black’ operating in secrecy – Coulson’s character had evolved into much, much more through Thor, Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, showing childlike adoration for Captain America, and romance with an unnamed cellist (Marvel Comics Easter egg alert!).

That character growth proved too good to say goodbye to just yet, as Clark Gregg made a surprise appearance during Marvel’s NYCC panel to discuss his work on the Ultimate Spider-Man animated TV show. A video was then shown in which Joss Whedon and Marvel studio head Kevin Feige announced that Gregg would be reprising his role in S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s pilot episode, previously confirmed to be written and directed by Whedon.

Agent Coulson Maria Hill Avengers Clark Greggs Agent Coulson Will Return in S.H.I.E.L.D. TV Series

Exactly how the death and return of Coulson will be explained is still unclear. Nick Fury bent the truth of his passing at the hands of Loki to provide the extra “push” that Captain America and Iron Man needed to work as a team. Given that, it’s possible he was lying about the entire thing. If Agent Coulson were re-introduced under those circumstances (whether he was in on Fury’s plan or not) we’re confident that Gregg’s deadpan sense of humor and Whedon’s writing could make it believable. It would undercut the impact of his death scene in Avengers, but that’s a price fans would be happy to pay.

Of course, there is the possibility that Agent Coulson’s role in the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot takes place before the events of Avengers, with the rest of the new agents and cast left to carry on the series. A longer look at the events leading up to Gregg’s demise would be a bittersweet story to see told, but would help legitimize the TV show as a canonical extension of the film universe, directly tied to the most successful Marvel movie to date.

In all honesty, we’d be fine with his death being explained away if it meant a continued role for the character in Marvel’s films and television shows. Gregg hasn’t just provided comic relief, but has shown he’s willing to back the studio in all its endeavors, and embrace the fan community. The affection he’s earned among hardcore Marvel fanboys and casual audiences is a powerful tool, but unfortunately, it also makes him the kind of character Whedon loves to kill. But will Marvel really let Whedon take that piece off the board this early?

Clark Gregg and Thor in The Avengers Clark Greggs Agent Coulson Will Return in S.H.I.E.L.D. TV Series

Either way, fans haven’t seen the last of Phil Coulson. At least one more Whedon-spun story exists to be told about the enigmatic agent, but beyond that, who knows? The working relationship between Whedon and Gregg is just beginning (next demonstrated in Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing), so only time will tell.

We’d love to hear your own hopes for the character, in the TV series or films. Should Marvel bring him back to life in any and every film franchise possible, or let his sacrifice stand? Sound off in the comments.


Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: Marvel

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  1. Life Model Decoy as mentioned in the Avengers movie. In fact, he may have actually been one all along. That would be cool.

    • Haha! Yes!

      • LMD was my thought as well. I’d have the one on TV be the LMD and keep the “real” Coulson dead. The LMD could be used to train or mentor the agents in the TV cast.

    • hey everybody, turn on your t.v.´s f.baumgartner will jump from 36.000mtr from the stratosphere. i think in the next 20 minutes.

  2. Well I don’t know whether the series will be pre-Avengers or post-Avengers.
    I’m fine with both. Fury being a manipulative b***rd is realistic. He would tell everyone that Phil is dead just to give them a push. Just how he smeared blood on Coulson’s cards for dramatic effect.

    Also, I have a feeling that he will be in more than just the pilot.
    Kevin Feige said that “there was never going to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. show without Agent Phil Coulson!”
    To which Whedon added: “He’s headlining the S.H.I.E.L.D. show and always was”

    Maybe “headlining” means main cast. That’s how I understand his words.

    • That’s my hope, although I’d be happy if he actually just came and went, possibly hinting at story beats or new characters cropping up in the other films. That would give fans reasons to tune in every week, and let Disney have a marketing department that was still entertaining to watch.

      Imagine the main characters discussing a case, then one of them shouts ‘Hey, Coulson!’ and we see him leaving the room with Captain America’s back walking out ahead of him. I don’t know, people might absolutely hate that idea haha but I might actually appreciate it if it’s handled with the care and nerd-affection that Whedon’s writers usually show.

  3. Anytime,please..welcome back :)

  4. The Avengers was great. Resurrecting old Phil isn’t going to hurt that greatness one bit. If anything it will improve an already epic phase two.

  5. I’d love to seem as a regular on the show, even if that would mean that it would reduce the impact of his death in The Avengers. But sadly my money is on the flashback angle.

    • *seem = see him ;)

  6. Don’t know why, but I feel uneasy about this. Seems like a potential mistake. I hope that if they are going to do it, they’ll do it properly. Marvel hasn’t really let me down yet, and this could be where it all goes wrong on a massive scale. I have faith in you Whedon!

  7. Why hasn’t the person who wrote this article, or the people commenting here, listened to the audio commentary track on The Avengers? Whedon makes it very clear that it was Gregg who insisted on the character being killed off.
    I would imagine that he will only be in the pilot episode, which will either take place before the events of The Avengers or use the Coulson character in flashback scenes.
    Honestly, I don’t hold out much hope for the TV show, but I have been proven wrong on these things(Iron Man, Thor) and would love to be pleasantly surprised. Good luck guys!

    • I listened to the commentary too, I remember Whedon saying it wasn’t his idea. Also, in interviews he has insisted that it was Kevin Feige who made the call to kill Coulson. Whedon gets blamed because his work is filled with this kind of thing, but this time it really wasn’t him.

      Regardless, I’m glad that Coulson will be back in a live action format, even if it’s just for a short period of time. Some things I read have me thinking the pilot episode will be his only appearance. This Scyllaya person above quoted Feige as saying there was never going to be a SHIELD show without Coulson. I actually read that article too, which brings me to what you said about the timing of this show. Personally, I’d like it to be after the events of the Avengers so that we’re watching something that’s current. I don’t think the impact of Coulson’s death will be undercut by bringing him back.

      The point of his death was to get the Avengers to get past their differences. If it’s revealed to them that he’s not actually dead, they’re not going to stop caring about the good they accomplished while they worked together. Tony’s not going to say “Wait, you’re still here? Okay, that’s it, I’m taking it all back. Either that or I’m going to need some compensation”. They might not trust SHIELD so much anymore, heck, they already don’t, but that doesn’t mean they won’t work together.

  8. They never said for sure he died

  9. In the audio commentary to The Avengers Whedon reveals that it was producer Kevin Feige’s idea to kill off Coulson, so Marvel’s top people (aka mainly Feige) aren’t in any kind of disagreement with the death of Agent Phil Coulson.

    • when is this said in the commentary? I don’t doubt your claim, I just want to know where he says it in the commentary. I just went back and listened to the commentary on that scene again, and he says, “…but Clark was so good…and so funny, on the day…but also so articulate about why it was so important that his character die…that if there wasn’t some loss, it would be irresponsible…”
      He doesn’t actually say that it was Clark’s idea, as I had thought, but he also doesn’t say anything about Kevin Feige. If you can recall where in the commentary he says that it would be helpful. Otherwise I’ll just keep an ear out for it next time I listen to the whole thing.
      It makes more sense to me that it would be a producer’s idea than an actor’s, but Gregg has been a throughline for so many Marvel movies now that I could see him having that degree of input.
      At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter, but I’m a nerd for this kind of s***.

      • Either way, I do agree with Gregg (and possibly Feige) that his loss really was needed to get that team together. Movie death scenes are hard (*cough*DarkKnightRises*cough*) but Coulson’s was actually one of the best-acted and written, in my opinion. The fact that his last words were: “This was never going to work unless they had…” drove home the need for his death pretty beautifully.

        Honestly, any fan favourite character that can have fans in the theatre not outraged or pissed off, but actually agreeing with Coulson’s last words – pretty spectacular.

        That being said, I’d be totally fine with them bringing him back to be written by Joss. Who knows, they could have changed their minds while filming ‘Much Ado.’ If Whedon said ‘it’s a shame you wanted Coulson dead, we could have been working like this every day for the next couple of years…’ that could change ALOT.

        • The reason his death scene didn’t work for me was cause he cracked a terribly corny joke after be stabbed, instead of dripping out every last out of emotion. granted talia death was poorly acted by cotillard. Bruce’s fake death was far more more emotional IMO

          • But Phil didn’t die right when he was stabbed by Loki. He, maybe, died later when talking to Nick Fury. That scene was heartbreaking.

            Saying “So that’s what it does.” is a very Phil line IMO. He had told Loki that even he didn’t know what the weapon did… shooting it garnered that knowledge.

            Doesn’t matter to me. I am just happy with the thought that Phil will be coming back.

  10. Whedon says Coulson will headline the series. Unless every other episode is a flashback sequence, i believe it would be the nick fury is a d**k angle.

  11. Oh my lord what an idiotic move, if a character is dead keep him dead. Don’t pull off a comic book cliche that has been repeated many times. I don’t care if it’s going to be a flashback or anything else it’s still jumping the shark completely of what we saw in The Avengers. Whedon is acting ridiculous now, I feel sooner or later he’s going to run Marvel into the ground with his crazy fanboy dreams, keep your dreams out of filming and focus more on the quality and main idea as simple as that.

    • If its just in a flash back then they’d still be keeping him dead and there’s absolutly nothing wrong with that move just to show the guy who was basically Mr. Shield Agent giving the main characters of the show their start and cultivating them into the team they’ll be in the show.

  12. I thought his death was just a cheap plot device. It had no impact on me. It was just easier than fleshing out the characters.

    That means it will be before Avengers which sucks cuz I want the story to go forward, not backward. And if he faked his death, that would just cheapen his death even more.

  13. I think they should bring in sub par superheroes such as Nightwing, or even superheroes in their human form, like how cool would it be to see Agent Coulson take advice from Bruce Wayne in a non costume role? Also, the pilot’s probably gonna be set during the events of the Avengers and by the end of the pilot (or first few eps) coulson’s death during the events of the Avengers will transpire on the show thus creating a level of high stakes drama – in short, the same dramatic effect it had in the Avengers. Also, now that it has been revealed that Thor will include all Nine Realms, I’m reall hoping and betting that Hercules will show up and probably unlikely (due to character overload) quite possibly Xena as well (no Hercules without Xena). these heroes could be used the new Shield show ie. secondary characters introduced through movies and finding a home on the small screen

    • Ummm…Nightwing and Bruce Wayne are DC characters. Not Marvel.

    • whaaaaat ? are you talkin´about the kevin sorbo-hercules and lucy lawless-xenia which has nothing in common with the marvel universe. marcel has got -hercules- too,yes but not from that universe from the 90s series. and -batman- is from -d.c- comics,not marvel. :)

      • my comment above is for-gnarly-.

    • By Nightwing, do you mean Hawkeye or Black Widow, and by Bruce Wayne do you mean Tony Stark?
      ‘Cause like Kevin said, Batman is DC Comics and The Avengers is Marvel Comics.

    • This is my favorite comment ever.

      • I was already amused, Andrew’s comment had me cracking up hehe.

    • This hurt my brain.

      Gnarly, umm slow down there buddy. You just completed a Smashup at the Intersections of Marvel and DC,with a van driven by Not of this world characters.

  14. i´ve just read i think it was on -coming that the shield agents are all new characters, that were specialy created for the series. i would like to know if -nick fury- will be introduced,too. but,from what i did read, the stories are based on the new characters.

  15. I’m pretty sure that no one who is familiar with Joss Whedon’s work was surprised in the slightest by Coulson’s death. I expected it going in to the movie.

    • Actually Kevin Feige said it was his idea to kill off Coulson, and had no idea that Whedon was famous for killing off his characters.

  16. I have mixed feelings about this.
    It would be awesome to see the son of Coul back in action, but it depends on how they explain his resurrection.
    Coulson’s death was a huge part of The Avengers and if they dumb it down to a simple “oh, he wasn’t really dead – Fury was just lying” or “He’s a LMD now!” I wouldn’t be very happy.

    As long as they can handle his return with class, finesse, a logical explanation and sell his return as an epic event of sorts, then and only then will I be happy with it… luckily it’s Joss Whedon writing the pilot so I’m sure everything will be cool ;)

    • Right on (and I’m so glad I’m not the only one who applauded when Thor referred to him as that). If Joss is writing it, I don’t have the slightest doubt. Maybe giving a bit too much confidence, but….I don’t think so.

  17. Would love to see him back and after looking at that picture of him and Joss I think I now the perfect actor to play Simon Williams (Aka Wonderman) .. Nathan!!!!

  18. The show taking place before the Avengers not only would explain Coulson alive,
    it would also explain why Captain America, Thor, and even Hulk are not part
    of that time period since as of then they have no relation to Shield and
    there would be no reason to wonder why they are not called upon.

  19. Flashback or part of a (pre-recorded) training program video if it the pilot alone. In fact, if Coulson is part of the series, then I expect the series to take place just after the events in the first Iron Man or after Thor but before The Avengers. That would be the way to go. After all, if it takes place before Avengers…that would account for the absence of most, if not all of the “Avengers” team. It could even account for Coulson cropping up now and then in a recurring role.

    A few things I would like to see in the series though:

    - Do they use the remains of The Destroyer for scrap metal/reverse engineering

    - “SHIELD has no shortage of enemies”.

    - Why didn’t Loki try to free Blonsky, get a <strike<Hulk Abomination of his own?

    • so again, maybe some don´t read my posts,no problem. i have read on -coming that the story is build up on all new shield agents,which are totaly new characters. and i think that the story evolves around the build-up of the shield organisation ant that coulson will recruit the rookies. i think coulson was before he was at shield, a top agent from the f.b.i.

    • Ah, Good Question.

      Blonsky aka the Abomination was defeated by the Hulk. The Abomination is as strong as the hulk, but cannot surpass the hulk in strength when enraged. Abmination would perhaps last a few minutes before the Hulk got so POd he would have snapped his neck.

  20. My gut reaction after seeing Avengers the first time was to hope that Coulson would be back as Vision at one point. It seemed inconceivable that they would be done with that actor/character.

    I’m not sure when it’s set really matters though as far as other characters go. SHIELD is supposed to be able to take care of it’s self and has only really needed the supers one time. The rest of the time’s they’ve shown up it’s been to help the supers, not the other way around. SHIELD isn’t a government group OF superheros, it’s a government group that just happens to EXIST in a world with superheros. There really is no reason for the supers from the movies to be in a series about their day to day activities.

    • Good point. It may end up that the ‘Item 47′ short is the closest thing to the SHIELD series in terms of tone and plot. And I’d be fine with that, since I still don’t know how well the extremely film-style direction of every Marvel movie would transition to TV.

  21. Flashbacks.

    They could practically build the show around all of unfinished and ongoing cases he was involved in, and feature Coulson in flashbacks.

    I’m not for actually resurrecting his mind and/or body. He lives on like anyone; in accounts and memory.

  22. Why not bring him back? Nobody “important” ever stays dead in the comics, so why not add yet more unrealism to the already reality-stretched Avengers. Kill them all off and keep bringing them back. Keep that herd money rolling in for the studios. That’s precisely why there is absolutely no real drama left in the comics and live action movies today. If Stark would have really died nuking the alien ship, they would have just hauled him back in with some implausible excuse. Yip pee.

    • have you thought about it that it could be ,that the series is all about the beginning and recruiting from shield agents and that the whole timeline is even before the -iron man- movie. i just know that horrorcharacters come back to life but if he hero dies,then he stays dead. if it´s not superman or thor,of course.

  23. awesomeee

  24. I wouldn’t mind seeing Clark Gregg back I agree his dead was needed on the Avengers but I always had in mind it was just all pretended. Still I do hope he comes as a series regular since it’s been said he would HEADLINE the series which I understand as being a series regular and main cast. I just hope that if he is indeed alive they explain it in a very reseanoble and understanding way.

    • Sorry = reasonable

  25. That was a really weird scene in “The Avengers,” and I never bought it. For one thing, Loki is several levels beyond mere back-stabbing. Not in character for him.

    Most importantly, though, why would anyone expect it to pull the superheroes together? Sure, Cap and Black Widow would be moved, but Thor wouldn’t – Coulson “roughed up” his lady love and stole her stuff. Tony Stark didn’t exactly seem fond of him in “Iron Man 2,” and I suspect would put him on the same level of distrust that Black Widow said Stark had for her in “Avengers.” Banner didn’t have a history with him (as far as I know – didn’t see the Hulk prequel), and Hawkeye had his own reasons for going after Loki.

    No, it made no sense as a “push.” At that point, they were coming together anyway.

    Sure, it’s just a comic book movie and characters die and reappear all the time, but the charm of comic books is their simple sense of “justice.” Maybe it’s just me, but that was lacking here – it feels like Coulson was killed (after warming us up with his fanboyishness toward Cap and learning his first name) just to shock the viewers, and the “push the Avengers” excuse was added secondarily.

    I’m glad Phil (now that we know his first name isn’t “Agent”) is coming back – in the TV series, as I read somewhere – and hope we meet the cellist some day, but I’ve sworn off Joss Whedon for life. I don’t think he really respects fans.

    • IMO Barb, thats some messed up reasoning. Loki is all about “back-stabbing” figuratively and literally. Coulson was just one human and Loki is a “god”. Why bother with being dramatic about it?

      Cap, Black Widow, and Hawkeye all worked closely with Coulson and either gennerally liked him or considered him a friend. Thor met Coulson before and in the end agreed to help the “son of Coul” protect humanity. I feel like Iron Man generally liked him and just had a lighthearted antagonism with him, like he seems to do with most everybody. And Banner/Hulk wasn’t even there at the time so that doesn’t really matter.

      It’s also really improtant to add (atleast to me) that he introduced himself as “Phil Coulson agent of SHIELD” from the very begining. So someone who actually paid attention would have known that the whole time.

      • guys, please don’t argue with this person. She is not the kind of fan that the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs or wants. Let her fade into the background noise of ignorance.

      • I’d also like to add to what I said about Coulson’s death that it probably affected all the characters no matter what because he died trying to stop Loki, or in other words: he died trying to do by himself, as a completly average guy with no specific skills of merit or super powers, what six superheroes(or however you want to break it down, two to four or three to three over who really had “super powers”) were brought together to do.

        They would have all felt guilty because he tried to stand up to Loki alone solely because they couldn’t come together as a team to stop him from escaping and if they had been able to he wouldn’t have had to die for the cause. It kinda makes them all responsible for it in a way. He died because they failed to get along and preform well enough as a team. Thus, they banned together much better later on because they felt they needed to avenge him.

        I didn’t include above about Hawkeye being evil at the time but I ain’t goin back to fix it so just know that i know for the scene I’m talking about.

    • I pretty much completely agree with CaptainMagnum – he made all the points I would have made.

      I would like to add though, that Whedon has MASSIVE respect for his fans. I don’t know what you have against the guy, but someone who writes a thank you note to all the fans who supported his movie (the avengers) , and holds a reunion for a show that got cancelled years ago (just so that the fans can see the gang back together again) definitely deserves being the fan-favorite director/writer that he is – most directors never do things like that.
      It’s pretty difficult not having respect for the fanboys, when you ARE a fanboy…

  26. Awesome that Clark Gregg will appear in the pilot episode.

  27. Barb, I don’t know if you are being serious or not in your response, I’m hoping most is sarcasm, but..
    Coulson’s death made sense for bringing them all together:
    Coulson had such a nerd crush on Cap that Cap had to avenge him.
    Black Widow and Hawkeye were his coworkers and fellow inner circle members of Fury’s.
    Tony had no issue with Coulson, he had a very lighthearted relationship with him, plus Pepper liked Phil.
    At the end of Thor, Thor made a pact with the Son of Coul to help defend the Earth in the future.
    Banner/Hulk never met Coulson before, so they were not going to be drawn in by his death, but they were in a warehouse in New Jersey by that time anyway.
    Loki, being beyond back stabbing, I will agree with, but he was by no means in his right state of mind.
    I also have to assume the learning his first name thing is just playing up on the joke, if you are serious about learning his first name in The Avengers, well, I’m sorry I wasted my time writing this..

  28. There’s always The New Adventures of Old Christine.

    • Lol he is hilarious in that :)

    • Lol he is hilarious in that

  29. I am so ready for this show. I don’t mind them bringing him back, but it has to be awesome how they do it.