Joss Whedon sent Marvel fans into a frenzy at New York Comic-Con on Saturday in delivering what they have been asking for since an untimely death in The Avengers. None other than S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson is coming back and he will be the center of attention upon his return.
After Marvel’s Head of Television Jeph Loeb ran a sizzle reel of Clark Gregg as agent Phil Coulson Cinematic Universe moments from Iron Man through The Avengers, Gregg took the stage at NYCC to talk about theories about the character’s revival and was soon followed by a video message from Joss Whedon.
“We all love Clark Gregg, there’s no doubt about that,” Whedon told the excited crowed. “From before we made The Avengers, we discussed whether there was a way for him to be a part of the Marvel Universe, perhaps a part of a TV show even after his death. The fact of the matter is, as much as we love him, now that I’m really running Marvel, I like to keep a type of artistic integrity, which means we don’t stretch the bounds of reality.”
Then Marvel chief Kevin Feige appeared behind Whedon wearing a “Coulson Lives” t-shirt. “There was never going to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. show without Agent Phil Coulson” said Feige enthusiastically.
“He’s headlining the S.H.I.E.L.D. show and always was,” added Whedon.
S.H.I.E.L.D. has its first cast member who is a direct link to the Cinematic Universe and exactly what it needs to effectively run concurrently with the films. Therein lies the real trick. Whedon has already publicly stated that the S.H.I.E.L.D. series is designed to run parallel to the Cinematic Universe. Coulson is dead, or is he?
In The Avengers when Coulson shows up to recruit Stark for the Avengers mission, Stark tells him that he’s really talking to a “Life Model Decoy” i.e. a robot. In Marvel’s comic history, a Life Model Decoy is a S.H.I.E.L.D. robot designed to look like the person who is controlling it. Coulson is dead, but that doesn’t mean Stark couldn’t create a Life Model Decoy version of him since we know the idea is already on Stark’s mind.
Then again, Coulson was stabbed with Loki’s spear/staff which has a magical element to it. Perhaps the Tesseract can bring him back to life. That idea is a bit more of a stretch but certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
The S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot starring Clark Gregg is expected to be ready to air next fall. Perhaps the Marvel One Shot shorts were always designed to be a tease of what Coulson as the lead might be like. Fans have loved them so there is no reason to doubt S.H.I.E.L.D. has the potential to be a ratings hit.