4) Super Soldier Serum
The problem with bringing Coulson back means that "death" in the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn't really mean too much. That is, if he's human. If SHIELD can just take as many days as they want to rebuild someone's body - specifically a human body - and play with their brain to erase/replace memories, then what's the big deal about Nick Fury being in intensive care in the Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer? If Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) gets ripped in half by Ultron or Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) takes a few bullets, no big deal, right? Not necessarily.
One of our more interesting theories early on for how Coulson lives (see all 10 here) is that he was the kid in that one scene in The First Avenger (WWII era) whose mom called out to him as "Phil" - someone who might have been part of some post-Captain America supersoldier project with another version of the serum. This can conceivably play into Coulson's loyalty and love of Steve Rogers.
We know the military continued experimenting on this front, hence The Hulk. This theory resurfaces since "The Magical Place" episode intentionally shows blue serum being used as part of Coulson's operation. Why would that be included? If anything related to supersoldier serums and Coulson's myterious past is part of the truth, then it may tie-in to the return of HYDRA and/or other villains appearing in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. We know the villainous genius Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) is returning for the sequel and he teased the following:
"...Zola finds a way to defeat time and you won’t be disappointed with the way that’s been treated in the film, that’s what I would say."
Zola, in Marvel Comics, is a master of genetic engineering who found a way to keep living by transferring his mind into a robot. Could his return in Captain America 2 tie-in to the final episodes of this season of Agents of SHIELD?
5) Scarlet Witch & Family Ties
The mysterious "cellist" we keep hearing about, first in The Avengers and again in Agents of SHIELD - is that Scarlet Witch like we all believe? Is she connected to the "Clairvoyant"? If so, Elizabeth Olsen is quite a bit younger than Agent Coulson, so perhaps - as some of our astute readers have suggested - her relationship with Coulson is that she is his daughter and there's some weird SHIELD cover-up going that has her unimpressed with the organization - hence her and her brother's (Quicksilver) antagonistic origins. Maybe Coulson returning is what brings the pair to join Earth's Mightiest to take down Ultron in The Avengers 2?
This possibility, a stretch upon a stretch (we know), could feasibly tie into the Inhumans theory. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch's abilities may be Inhuman in origin, just like their special dad. Crazy? How else do we explain their powers?
From reading the comments in response to our coverage of the series so far and the Agents of SHIELD mid-season premiere, it's clear there's a sense of disappointment regarding the story and reveals, but at the very least, it has us all talking and thinking about what it all means and what it may lead to. Don't be surprised if none of our theories are even close and if many of the hints we perceive are intentional misdirection. All we do know for sure is that there's more to Agent Coulson's resurrection than we know and future episodes will (hopefully) provide more answers. Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., starring Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, returns next Tuesday with “Seeds” @8pm on ABC.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 31, 2015, with unannounced films coming May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie news!