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How Will Phil Coulson Return in ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?


Obviously there has to be a little bit of retconning to bring Agent Coulson back to life in ABC’s upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but we’ve been wondering how Clark Gregg’s resurrection would pan out since his involvement in the planned TV series was announced. Well, /Film has the answer, and it’s definitely not what we were expecting. Obviously spoilers for the TV series lie ahead.

According to the site, Coulson didn’t actually die in The Avengers but faked his death in order to “motivate” the superheroes. “Some S.H.I.E.L.D. members were in on it (including, possibly, Maria Hill played by Cobie Smulders) but The Avengers were not. Their security clearance wasn’t high enough,” /Film explains. Nick Fury ordered the ruse, which required Coulson to hold his breath for as long as possible to make The Avengers think he had been killed. Once things died down after the events of The Avengers, he was reinstated for duty in S.H.I.E.L.D.

Of course, Loki obviously stabbed Coulson with his scepter, so it’s unclear exactly how that didn’t cause his death. Maybe Coulson was dying but was saved just in time after he allegedly died. Also, the Avengers likely won’t be too pleased about being tricked, which is something that will likely have to be dealt with in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Two.

During a recent interview, we now realize Gregg gave a big tease about how his character’s still alive. “After people see the show, they’ll have some clue as to why I’m still there, still breathing,” he said. “But I don’t think they’ll know everything.”

Targeted for ABC’s fall lineup, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. centers on the global espionage and law-enforcement agency that’s helped to provide the connective tissue between the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whedon directed the pilot, which he co-wrote with his brother Jed Whedon and Jed’s wife Maurissa Tancharoen. The project also stars Ming-Na as Agent Melina May, Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Gemma Simmons, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz, Brett Dalton as Agent Grant Ward and Chloe Bennett as Skye.


  • 0bsessions

    “Not what we were expecting” seems to be stretching it a bit. This was probably the single most popular theory out there with only LMD being close.

    Hell, they even call out Fury as a liar when Hill approaches him about Coulson not having the cards on him during the fight right in the film. This was heavily implied (And it was also implied that Hill was not in on it considering her questioning of Fury).

    This was the most obvious course of events.

  • Just sayin

    I think they should turn Coulson into a black man like they did Nick Fury. In fact, make all the heroes black, too.

  • Percane

    they really should have gone the LMD route. stark already mentioned them anyway

  • Curtis Hart

    Like in DS9’s Trials and Tribblations with Worf, keep the answer vague and stick to it. Just whenever Agent Coulson is asked about it have him reply, “I got better.” Not everything has to be explained.

  • dlfurman

    LOL., Seriously folks….
    This a film based on COMIC BOOKS. You know the stuff where, people build flying suits of armor, travel across dimensions, have inanimate heavy objects fly into ones hands by a thought or look, change into green, nigh invulnerable monsters of immense strength, have flying invisible aircraft carriers and we are actually worried about someone living after a stab wound?

    C’mon! ;)

  • Adam Walters

    I don’t get the holding the breath thing. Why would he need to hold his breath?

  • Adam Walters

    I was thinking the same thing.

  • ls1200

    What are you talking about? Nick Fury has always been black.
    (his father was white, though, I think)

  • JungleFritz

    I love that bit! “We don’t talk about it.” End of story. :)

  • JungleFritz

    While I firmly believe that Coulson lives, I think that Fury lying about it is only the tip of the iceberg. I suspect that we may get AN answer as to how Coulson lives in the pilot, but I’m willing to bet that the true and complete answer will take most of the season to get to.

  • Craig Peters

    shoulda been an LMD … duh

  • Kevin Vincent

    You need to read more comics…

  • james

    just curious as to how old you are… cuz my little brother (17) had no idea that Nick Fury or Green Lantern were caucasian in their original incarnations.

  • Iskander Izzy Islam

    I was hoping him to have died and have his brain patterns used to create the Vision – but ‘holding your breath’ is really corny and a let down – an LMD would have been preferable to that excuse!

  • Curtis Andrew Hedrick

    He was only Black in the Ultimates universe.

  • Curtis Andrew Hedrick

    Nick fury was made into a black man (modeled after Sam. L Jackson) in the Ultimate Spider-Man back in 2000

  • Curtis Andrew Hedrick appear dead.

  • Jon

    Not to be a d#ck, but I don’t know a single person who DIDN’T assume SHIELD faked Coulson’s death to give the “Avengers” something to “Avenge”. Seriously, that’s the one big flaw about the comic book version. Marvel originally gave the team this name simply because it sounded cool. In their origin, the Avengers aren’t actually avenging anything – unless you count “avenging those who’ve been wronged”, which is a slogan that could go to ANY super hero team. Or police division. Or consumer protection service, really.

    Seems the author of the article is the only person who didn’t see things playing out the way they will be.

  • Jon

    That’s pretty much the most condescending posting I’m likely to read today.

  • Jon

    I love when people on the internet start their replies with a condescending and sarcastic “umm”. The internet needs more condescension and sarcasm.

  • Jon

    It doesn’t matter when it happened, the guy’s making a point about the fact that it happened at all. Not saying I agree with him, I just don’t understand what point you were trying to make with your reply.

  • Jon

    Holy crap, I’m old.

  • Curtis Andrew Hedrick

    My Point was, by his comment it seems he assumed that Fury being a black was a decision created by the film makers. I was informing him it was done in the comics long before the cinematic universe and not just pulled out of thin air for the film.

  • Curtis Andrew Hedrick

    When someone asks an obvious question, a little sarcasm is deserved. By all means keep “defending the wrongs of the internet”..more sarcasm for you.

  • 0bsessions

    In fairness to Spinoff, Bleeding Cool was running it the exact same way as if it was some huge surprise to anyone.

  • 0bsessions

    I’m getting the impression that that aspect is being misconstrued by the press. It comes off to me as a metaphor (As in laying low until the invasion was resolved) whereas it’s being widely reported in the literal sense, which would just be moronic.

  • Curtis Andrew Hedrick

    How would it be “moronic” for him to hold his breath to appear dead?

  • 0bsessions

    Ummm…because that would be moronic?

    Like you said, an obvious question deserves a sarcastic response, right?

    I mean, I’d like to think it’s common sense: When, in the history of man, has holding one’s breath ever actually fooled anyone remotely competent into thinking someone’s dead?

    The only Avenger present for Coulson’s death was Black Widow, someone who had (In that very scene) proven she’s perfectly capable of faking emotion. It’s no stretch to say Fury could’ve gotten her in on the lie if necessary.

    Past that, the only people present were the medics and if SHIELD medics are capable of being fooled by a guy “holding his breath,” SHIELD needs new medics. If they were in on it, what would be the point of him holding his breath?

    Like I said, the entire concept of him “holding his breath” in any literal capacity is utterly moronic.

  • Curtis Andrew Hedrick

    she may have been the only one there for his “death” but the other Avengers could have seen the body at some point, a good bit of time passed between his “death” and the avengers taking off. The medics were most likely in on it, yes. Tony and Cap I highly doubt have the training to tell when someone is holding his breath. Banner most likely could have but of course he was not onboard at the time.

  • 0bsessions

    Tony is a certified genius and Rogers is pretty bright himself. The idea that either could be fooled by Coulson “holding his breath” is beyond ridiculous.

    For that matter, the guy took a spear to his gut. How much lung capacity do you figure a guy in that condition is going to have immediately following the incident. All logic dictates the guy should’ve been hooked up to a respirator or some form of life support in the immediate term.

    Like I said, it’s just utterly moronic in concept and unlikely to be meant literally. I’d like to give Whedon more credit than that.

  • Nick

    Whoa. I’m only 17, but I know very well that Nick Fury is Caucasian. He always was and always should be. It’s fine that he’s African-American in the Ultimate Universe, but I’m disappointed how much the Marvel Cinematic Universe is influencing the comics, in which the currently main “Nick Fury” is African-American; makes me a sad, little boy.

  • Curtis Andrew Hedrick

    They are not medically trained though, they would see his chest not rising up and down and take that to mean…no breath=dead. After going back and reviewing the seen, the only Avenger to witness it was Thor, Widow was in another part of the ship after she kicked Hawkeye’s ass. Personally, unless they do go into the Avengers being very pissed at Fury for deceiving them, Coulson should have stayed dead.

  • Curtis Andrew Hedrick

    As it is actually his son, I dont see it as a big deal.

  • Adam Walters

    To who? The characters they wanted to think Coulson was dead were not in the room.

  • Foogos

    I like that Vision idea!

  • demoncat_4

    thought they would go with the old lmd so coulson could be part of the shield tv series guess that throws out him being the vision now.

  • Bryy

    It’s not a big deal, it’s just a really crappy justification.

  • dlfurman

    Nothing condescending about it. He was stabbed, not gutted (no gibs or body parts strewn across the deck). The Medical personnel were present rather quickly. There would be a state of the art medical facility on the Helicarrier. And if you are a fan of both genres (comic books and film) you know that there is an out for just about any situation should the need arise for the sake of story.

    In addition, the scene with Coulson’s cards tells you that Fury had to make a play to get the heroes to gel.

    Methinks I’m not the one who needs to get off the high horse…

  • JusticeBringer

    Okay, how did Phil Coulson survive a spear through the torso? And why
    was Fury looking genuinely sad? And if Hill knew, why would she point
    out Coulson’s cards not being on him?

  • Jon

    You say that as if Bleeding Cool was some kind of authority in serious comic book news reporting. Rich’s pro-Marvel bias (since he made up with them a couple of years back) is now legendary. Of course Rich would make anything Marvel-related seem like big news. I’m just surprised anyone else did.

  • Jon

    And MY point was that he never blamed the filmmakers outright. His exact words — and not the ones “it seems he assumed” — were that “they” should turn Coulson into a black man like “they” did Nick Fury.

    The bottom line is that for half a century, Fury was white. Now he’s black, and not just in the ultimate universe. Everywhere. So why not make Coulson black too?

    Not saying I agree with him. I’m saying that you explaining to him WHEN Fury became black does not address the point he’s making.

  • Jason

    Dude, do you ever re-read yourself? Or do you simply not know what condescending means? Because the more I read from you, the more obvious it is to me that you are condescension made flesh. Just stop. You’re not going to condescend your way out of a condescension accusation, that’s just silly. It’s like a bully trying to intimidate a kid into not calling him a bully.

  • Jon

    umm.. whatever you say, dude. ;)

  • Jon

    Only Fury and Coulson would have been in on it. So whoever *was* in the room, even if not the superheroes themselves, needed to be convinced just like the heroes eventually would.

    I realize everyone here wants to be “the guy who said something smart no one else thought of” but come on, people. You are trying WAY too hard. This did not need to be explained to you.

  • Jon

    That “duh” at the end really drives your point home. Well played, sir.

  • Fry Cook on Venus

    “He held his breath”? Shenanigans!

    I’m going with Coulson died, Fury transferred his consciousness into an LMD, Fury TOLD him they faked his death, and Coulson doesn’t know he’s not a real boy anymore.

    THAT’S a Whedon arc.

  • Jon

    You don’t think a spear that goes through a torso — but misses the heart — is something that an organization like SHIELD, in a universe like the Marvel Universe, is something Coulson could come back from?

    Explain to me how the Hulk’s pants stretch to 4x their original size, but only tear from the calves down. Take your time, I’ll wait.

  • TheGavGav

    “definitely not what we were expecting”? I’ve been expecting that ever since the cards were in the locker scene during my first watch of The Avengers.

  • Curtis Andrew Hedrick

    If you don’t agree with him, as you keep stating, why are you responding to a reply that was to him. You are assuming his intent as well. Perhaps, I’m right and he was inferring that the film makers made the change. Perhaps you’re right. Won’t know until he comments. Also to their being a Black Nick Fury in the Marvel 616 Universe, that was something, I’ll admit, I just found out from another post and looked into as I haven’t read a marvel comic or many others since the beginning of Civil War. So in that sense, that is just a way to bring black nick fury into the forefront. He used the words “they” as you have said, in a response to an article about the cinematic universe, so I read “They”as the film makers.

  • Tophman

    haha… I think what a lot of folks are forgetting is that ultimately, this IS set in a Marvel Universe… and as we’ve seen across decades of comics (even some movies): no one stays dead.

    Methinks the Marvel Cinematic Universe can easily have an unchecked revolving door. :p

    Besides, for those who care: no explanation will ever be good enough; and for those who are just along for the ride: no explanation is necessary. -just my two cents.

    PS: I personally prefer the LMD/Vision scenario. Perhaps they’ll have Coulson be a machine who thinks he’s still in his old body thanks to some Pym tech.

  • CCB

    It’s not complicated. Fury gave him a dose of the Infinity formula. Solves it easy enough and sets up for later stories and complications.

    Holding his breath? Meh! Make dead Coulson the LMD.

  • dlfurman

    Jon and Jason, you both try and have nice days.

  • Tophman

    yeah, that would be more plausible (no blood on Loki’s blade or any visible spatter).

    “Holding his breath” is a lame plan to fake one’s death. No one bothers to check for a pulse in the MCU?

  • Happily LS

    As a fan of Joss’s, I didn’t think it was fake. He has brought characters back before but the majority are outright dead with no trickery. Although I did wonder why the cards were bloody if they were in Coulson’s locker when he died…

  • Happily LS

    It’s just a flesh wound!

  • Tony Kelsey

    Green lantern has four out of six of the earth lanterns as white, if your 17 year old brother had no idea that Green lantern was white (technically five out of seven if you count jade) then he was not paying attention. the Nick fury thing is mostly because they had him underground at the time (in regular marvel).

  • WheadonLMD

    why would they reveal how he lived before the pilot airs? it’s just a goddamn joke that he held breath for a long time that got you arguing over nothing.

  • SP

    “Fury has the same blood on his hands as Loki does.”

  • ls1200

    I though it was painfully obvious I was joking.
    I love Ultimate Nick Fury, but I also think that making 616 Fury’s son look like the Ultimate/Movie Fury was one of the stupidest ideas coming out of Marvel.

  • Luqman

    I doubt he did the hold his breath trick…More likely he was just saved or given some sort of pill or serum to fake a death.

  • Luqman

    I think that will be the point…That the Avengers will not trust Fury. Which helps Thanos divide and conquer.

  • AstroBoyAaron

    Fury put the blood on the cards to make it seem more legit that Coulson had the cards on him when he died.

  • AstroBoyAaron

    “Even his lies have lies..”

  • Justin Bieber

    Coulson’s Dead. He Didn’t Hold His Breath. He Wasn’t Saved Either. SHIELD Might Had Experimented On His Corpse And He Comes Back. Or This Might Be A Prequel To The Avengers.

  • Orphan

    What difference does it all make? No way in hell this is going to last on ABC the graveyard of fantasy/SF TV shows.This is just Disney throwing a bone to a division of their media empire so that those in charge can walk away when it tanks.

  • Heather Z.

    I heard he is saved by extremis, that’s why s.h.I.e.l.d was lacking in iron man 3…maybe.