Whedon Explains Why Bad Things Happened to Avengers Character

WARNING: This post contains spoilers for The Avengers!

Joss Whedon’s predilection for killing beloved characters is as obvious as it is heart-breaking and infuriating. There was Joyce Summers, Tara Maclay, Anya Jenkins and many others on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Wash and Shepherd Book in Serenity, Winifred Burkle on Angel, Rupert Giles in the Buffy comics. The list goes on.

And while fans fully expected the writer/director to off someone in Marvel’s The Avengers — Black Widow was an early odds-on favorite — once it turned out to be fan-favorite Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), the reaction was relatively muted. The S.H.I.E.L.D. operative is as much the connective tissue of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, so you’d think there would be more online outcry about his demise. Maybe audiences expect Coulson’s timely resurrection, a la Buffy, Spike or Angel (I’ve seen suggestions he’ll return as the big-screen version of The Vision). Or maybe they were just relieved Scarlett Johansson’s super-spy lives to fight another day.

Although that may be a mystery, Whedon’s reasons for killing Agent Coulson is not. At a press junket for The Avengers, the director came clean, telling io9.com it was … someone else’s idea.

“In our first meeting [Marvel Studios President] Kevin Feige said, this is what we’re gonna do and I said, ‘Oh, but you have to go out there and tell everybody that it was your idea because this is going to get me so much shit. Because they are all going to be like, “Oh, he did it again!”‘ Whedon said. “It was stipulated from the beginning, and I completely agree that it was the right thing to do, and so did Clark, who said in the early days, when I was busy apologizing for it, ‘In a movie like this, with what’s going on if there isn’t some toll, it’s just irresponsible story telling.’”

So there. If you are upset about Agent Coulson, blame Kevin Feige. Or Clark Gregg. Or responsible storytelling. Just not Joss Whedon — this time.

News From Our Partners

Comments

  • Sephy

    Considering how Fury already fabricated part of Coulson’s death in order to inspire the rest of the team (the Cap cards)…. they could really just go the extra mile and say that Coulson’s death was faked entirely. I did find it slightly odd that they conveniently cut away from Coulson the moment the medics arrived to look at him, so we never do see a doctor actually declare him dead. 

  • http://twitter.com/dtmills Tyler Mills

    My money is on an LMD

  • http://www.thekliqnation.com Timdogg

    I can totally see them making Agent Coulson into Vision.  The movies don’t have to follow the comic books 100% of the time.  As long as a quality film is made with superb storytelling, I’m all for it

  • teaberryblue

    The reason there is relatively little outcry is because the vast majority of movie viewers are assuming he’s not actually dead, and will show up in the next film.  If he doesn’t, expect the outcry THEN.

  • Sketch777x

    Muted? Not from what I’ve seen. In fact somebody yelled out “F*ck you, Joss Whedon!” in my viewing when it happened.

  • Etmasden

    Agreed. Nick Fury is a spy (according to Tony THE spy) and has no problems lying to the Avengers.  About the Phase 2 prototypes, about Coulson’s collection.

    This is comics after all.  Characters are only dead until they’re not anymore.

  • http://twitter.com/p_keely Patrick Keely

    I like the idea of Coulson being used as the Vision.  His character and actor seem perfect for it.

  • JozefAL

    So, where’s all the outrage that this was done by an “editorial fiat, rather than a part of the screenwriter’s storytelling process? 

    Oh, wait.  It’s Marvel, not DC. 

    (Frankly, I didn’t see the character as being all that much of a linchpin or “connective tissue”–the character was little more than a cameo in previous Marvel movies to show that the films were all part of the same universe.  If anyone was “connective tissue,” it was Fury.)

  • http://twitter.com/borateen0 Rob Rosenblatt

    That’s also what I think. Either it was an LMD that was “killed,” or he’s going to end up being the Jango Fett of the Avengers and all the LMDs will be based on his likeness. This way he could also be the Kenny of the Avengers and die in every movie.

    http://tellmewhatsitallmean.blogspot.com/2012/05/what-you-should-have-seen-22.html 

  • KingofBing71

    WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON! lol That would be so cool if Coulson ended up being Vison.

  • Loeanubis

    I doubt that it was an LMD that was killed (though I liked the nod that Stark had to them in the movie) but I am still on the “not dead” fence. No body, no funeral, just Fury saying that the med team “called it”, but minutes later Hill reveals that the cards were in his locker and that they “needed a push.” 

  • Themightydrew

    Holy crap. Gregg would be perfect as The Vision. Is anyone of influence reading this? Give the people what they want!

  • sandwich eater

    Nice try Joss, but we know it was really you.  I understand why it happened.  It’s a testament to the writers of these movies and Clark Gregg’s skills as an actor that we liked him so much especially since he was a brand new character who didn’t come from the comics.  

  • http://twitter.com/mathuthe MathiaS

    OMFG, warn about the Buffy comics and tv shows spoilers as well, you douche. I knew all about the TV ones, but the comic one I didn’t. Thank you, Mr. Melrose. And if someone is just excited about the Avengers movie and wants to check the shows out, they’re in for a treat.  

  • http://profiles.google.com/wkennethleonard Ken Leonard

    SHIELD has LMD’s.

    ‘Nuff said.

  • http://www.longklaw.com Will

    Giles died?

  • Rick

    I saw the original Human Torch in Captain America, but didn’t see him Iron Man 2. What scene was that?

  • 0bsessions

    Clark Gregg has too much on screen charisma to play Vision. That would be an absolute waste.

    Just use the Jarvis voice. Man, that’d set some of the fans off in a rage for the ages.

    That all said, Gregg’s not dead. Bank on it, if they manage to wrap him up for Iron Man 3 (As they allegedly are trying to), the Avengers Blu Ray will have another One-Shot with Agent Sitwell that’ll end with Coulson appearing no worse for wear.

    Either that or they’ll make it the Iron Man 3 PS, which would certainly get a hell of a reaction.

  • jrau18

    I think the easiest method to bring him back is “he never died”

    We saw him stop talking. We didn’t see the medics pronounce him dead. We were told that by Fury, who was shown to be a big fat liar several times in the movie, including right after Coulson died.

  • jrau18

    I think the easiest method to bring him back is “he never died”

    We saw him stop talking. We didn’t see the medics pronounce him dead. We were told that by Fury, who was shown to be a big fat liar several times in the movie, including right after Coulson died.

  • jrau18

    Exactly what I’m thinking.

  • jrau18

    Exactly what I’m thinking.

  • jrau18

    PS?

  • jrau18

    PS?

  • jrau18

    “Oh, wait.  It’s Marvel, not DC.” So you haven’t seen the stuff regarding Marcus Johnson?

  • jrau18

    LMD’s don’t traditionally bleed.

  • jrau18

    LMD’s don’t traditionally bleed.

  • 0bsessions

    Post Script. After-credits scene.

  • 0bsessions

    Post Script. After-credits scene.

  • Robert Rae Mohr III

    Whether there’s been an online outcry or not, this did have an impact! Every single person in the theater with me (myself included) gave a disheartened “Awww!” when Coulson was killed. I don’t debate the decision at all…I think it was strong storytelling and made sense. But it definitely had an impact, and I’d say that indicates just how much Coulson meant to people. I think you don’t see a lot of complaining because it honestly worked well storywise and was understandable…it had an impact, but it wasn’t senseless.

    Clark Gregg should be really proud that his portrayal of this character pulled at people so much!

  • LightningBug

    Agree!

  • jrau18

     Ahhh

  • http://www.sohh.com/ Meaty Yum Steven

    Where was Torch in Iron Man 2? I only saw him in Captain America. Do tell.

  • http://twitter.com/Petes13 Thomas Greer

    i think hes just dead guys…

  • Ben Gebhart

    I admit, I hadn’t gotten aboard the Coulson-love train, until of course about 10 minutes before he was killed. I was bummed, sure…but Gregg’s statement about his character’s death was 100% true, and the fact it sparked the team’s stance to AVENGE!!! probably made it one of the most memorable movie deaths I’ve seen.

    Plus, yeah…if he comes back as either Vision, an LMD, or simply, “Ha! I’m a spy! Fooled you!”, it’ll be great too.

  • JAV

    I could totally see Agent Coulson coming back in the following marvel movies.
    Nick Fury could have lied about his death.
    Tony Stark could invent another JARVIS and give it Phil’s voice.
    Using the Infinity Gauntlet to bring him back. That would be EPIC!
    After all this is a comic book universe. Dead is never really dead.
    We could very well see the return of the Red Skull.

  • jrau18

    “We could very well see the return of the Red Skull.”

    Why was this included? Red Skull isn’t dead.

  • Trekker4747

    I think Coulson’s death fit and was appropriate sense he played a roll in enlisting all of the Avengers or at least in nudging them that direction, since Nick Fury’s antagonistic demeanor wasn’t likely helping anyone.  So Coulson needed to die in order to give The Avengers that “push” they needed to work together.  And, ditto, I’m just glad BW didn’t die but I was honestly expecting Hawkeye to die since he was a non-entity in both of the movies he was in. (This one and Thor.)

  • http://twitter.com/nld33 Norm

    Please don’t turn him into the Vision.

  • http://www.fencon.org Ed D.

    Reaction may have been “muted” because a lot of us have been trying to not spoil one of the biggest shocks in the movie. If somebody had told me about the death of Phil “His first name is Agent” Coulson before I saw the movie, they might have shared his fate. (I would seriously mess up their trading card collections.)

  • VanGoghX

     It was during the World Fair scene. A pic. and article about it can be found here: http://badassdigest.com/2011/07/27/did-you-see-the-human-torch-in-captain-america-the-first-avenger/

  • jrau18

    The guys said Iron Man 2. That’s from Captain America.

  • David

    Are you serious? Giles dying happened sometime last year in the comic. I think the time limit on spoilers has expired in this case

  • http://twitter.com/mathuthe MathiaS

    And is the Buffy comic something SO mainstream to publicly talk about character’s deaths? I didn’t know that, sorry, man. What if I wasn’table to read the comic yet? What if someone just finished the TV show and wants to read it? You go on and keep kissing this douche’s ass :)

  • jrau18

     Well, it’s mainstream enough for this site. Since it’s a comic site…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698356076 John Mangan

    In superhero and sci-fi films, death seems to be an option and totally reversable but, in my view that cheapens everything around it. Without risk there is no heroism. JW knows this and so produced the single greatest episode of BUFFY ever, “The Body”.

    I will miss the character that was killed. He was played by a superb actor and he carried that character through a lot of development. That said, with all that mayhem flying around, it is impossible that there would be no casualties and the personal loss makes the team actually BECOME a team.

    It’s to the credit of JW and Zac Penn that they made what might have been a throw-away death to a lesser writer and director a pivotal moment in a gigantic film.

  • Bigsmitdog

    Better bring Coulson back as something. He has definitely made it as the comic relief/fan favorite in the entire new marvel movie franchise. Comic books have one thing going for them in this situation… It doesn’t have to make actual sense, just comic sense. Looking forward to see how they pull it off. Smitty in Va.