Phil Coulson is back (sorta) in the Agents of SHIELD season 6 trailer. The very first Marvel Cinematic Universe TV series has come a long way since it premiered in 2013 to mixed reviews and a lack of certainty about its place in the larger MCU. Since then, however, the show has taken on a life of its own and earned increasingly strong reviews with each passing season. While the show has never fully cut ties with the movie side of the MCU, it by and large operates independently of everything that happens to Earth's Mightiest Heroes on the big screen these days.
Case in point: SHIELD season 5 included a somewhat begrudging tip of the hat to Thanos attacking earth in last year's Avengers: Infinity War, but otherwise keep its focus fixed on its own storyline involving aliens, time-travel, and a whole lot in-between. Season 6 will skip on acknowledging the fallout in Avenger: Endgame altogether when it arrives this summer, after the two-part Avengers saga concludes. Now, there's a trailer for season 6 and it confirms Coulson's return... while also revealing that he dies prior to the events of the season.
Confused? Well, watch the Agents of SHIELD season 6 first look trailer below and you'll see what we mean.
The season 6 trailer starts off by making it crystal-clear that Coulson died sometime prior to the events of season 6, right on down to including giant text reading "Agent Coulson is Dead". Things get a little more confusing from there, once the remaining SHIELD agents - now under Mack's supervision - set out to rescue Fitz; who, thanks to a bit of time-travel trickery, is still alive and frozen in outer space, despite having died last season. The promo goes on to hint at the sci-fi twist this season, revealing that Mack and his friends encounter a group of "extremely powerful" individuals along the way, one of whom bears an uncanny resemblance to Phil Coulson. However, when told that he's from SHIELD by what (arguably) sounds like Fitz, the not-Coulson replies "Never heard of it".
Part of SHIELD's success can be attributed to the way it's mixed things up by exploring a different genre (or genres) each season. By now, the show has taken on everything from supernatural horror with its Ghost Rider narrative in season 4 to a post-apocalyptic alien storyline in the first half of season 5, and it clearly intends to break fresh ground with season 6 too. Based on the trailer, this season could involve anything from clones (hence the Coulson look-alike) to alternate realities (e.g. the new Coulson comes from another dimension), or something else entirely. The fact that it's hard to say exactly where the series is going next makes things all the more exciting.
Agents of SHIELD season 6 premieres this July on ABC.