Pretty much since the opening weekend of The Avengers last May, “Coulson Lives” has been an internet meme among fans of the Marvel Studios superhero movies who were not particularly happy with the agent’s fate in the film.
Well, those fans are about to get their wish as it was announced at New York Comic Con yesterday that the character played by Clark Gregg would be part of the S.H.I.E.L.D. television series pilot that Marvel is currently preparing for ABC.
The announcement came during an appearance by Gregg at the Marvel Studios Television panel, where Gregg was appearing ostentatiously due to his voicing the character of Coulson on the latest Ultimate Spider-Man animated series.
“Ever here of a Life Model Decoy?” he asked the crowd, referencing a popular Marvel Comics technology that has been used to fake deaths. In acknowledging his gratitude to the fan support of his character, he also referenced a number of other popular online theories as to how he could have survived.
And then on the screen behind the panelists, Joss Whedon, the director of The Avengers director and current creative director of the entire Marvel Studios film slate appeared.
Whedon – We all love Clark Gregg, there’s no doubt about that. 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.
[Kevin Feige, head of Marvel Studios, steps into frame behind Whedon wearing a “Coulson Lives” t-shirt.]
Feige – There was never going to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. show without Agent Phil Coulson!
Whedon – He’s headlining the S.H.I.E.L.D. show and always was.
Head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb, who was moderating the panel, then confirm that Gregg was indeed the first cast member of the pilot.
And while this is indeed exciting news, it does open up a slew of new questions, the least of which is actually how did Coulson survive? Sure, when we saw him stabbed through the chest by the villainous Loki (Tom Hiddleston) he certainly looked like a goner and his boss Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) pronounced him dead. But in the film we see that Fury lied about a part of Coulson’s death in order to motivate the heroes into action. As the fan theory goes, if Fury was willing to lie a little about Coulson’s death what is stopping him from lying about Coulsons death a lot?
Of course there is another possibility. Remember when Marvel first announced the show? They mentioned that it would deal with the world shown in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but not necessarily involving lots of superheroes. Could the show be set at a time right before the first Iron Man, the film that kicked everything off? Or will Coulson only be appearing in some form of flashbacks?
But if indeed Coulson is back and the show is not a giant flashback, what impact does that have on how the heroes like Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the rest? Obviously, their trust in Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. will be shaken if not entirely broken once they learn of the deception. IT should provide fr some interesting poltlines in the upcoming films, most especially The Avengers 2.
Currently, Whedon is working on the project’s script with Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. Although it is a television project, considering its link to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’ll be following the development of the show closely.