Clark Gregg has explained why he wasn't part of Marvel Studios' 10 year anniversary "class photo". Earlier today, Marvel released a massive 'class photo' featuring dozens of actors and creatives from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Alongside a new banner for the shared universe, the image offered a taste of what awaits in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4. Smack in the middle are Robert Downey, Jr. and Kevin Feige, arguably two of the most important figures in launching Marvel Studios. But despite the plethora of new and old talent surrounding them, one key actor is noticeably missing: Clark Gregg.
Like Downey, Jr., Gregg first joined the MCU back in 2008 when he appeared as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson in Iron Man. Since then, he's appeared in Iron Man 2, Thor, and The Avengers. In fact, the entire reason the team of bickering heroes unite in the latter film was because Coulson was (seemingly) killed by Loki. Being a comic book movie, however, the death didn't stick and Couslon was revived and Gregg went on to lead Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - the MCU's first TV show. Sadly, his prominent place in the MCU hasn't resulted in Coulson returning to the big screen, and Gregg is likewise absent from the big MCU photoshoot.
Clark Gregg replied to Marvel Studio's announcement on Twitter of the 10 year anniversary photo, saying he wished he could have been there. And though it's a shame Gregg continues to be absent from the cinematic side of Marvel (even when they take a group photo), he does have a good excuse for his absence here:
Marvel's 10 year anniversary celebration took place in early October last year, right when New York Comic-Con was in full swing. While the movie side of the MCU sat the event out, Gregg and the rest of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast were in attendance. Of course, considering the big event was planned a year in advance and Gregg is such a vital part of the early MCU, it does seem like the shoot could have been scheduled on a different day.
Along with being absent from the class photo, Gregg also wasn't part of the MCU Vanity Fair shoot last year. That also appears to have taken place around the same time, so his absence there makes sense too. Then again, would he have merited an appearance? Marvel has been strangely reluctant to legitimize their TV shows on the big screen, even when it comes to a major character like Coulson. Hayley Atwell was able to return after Agent Carter, but it seems the tricky situation of explaining Coulson's revival may be part of what's kept him away.
With the MCU about to culminate 10 years of stories in two back-to-back movie epics, it's probably safe to assume that Coulson won't be returning to the big screen again. Fortunately, he's still alive and well (for now...) on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5.
Source: Clark Gregg