Rumor: Agent Coulson’s Return in S.H.I.E.L.D. Series Revealed?

     April 26, 2013


It’s no secret that Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) didn’t have the best of days in last year’s The Avengers; the real mystery is just how he is going to return to lead Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  The ABC series recently wrapped production on its pilot but details on Coulson’s return to action have been locked down.  Steve recently spoke with Gregg at WonderCon about the series but couldn’t get the actor to budge.  Now, however, new information has cropped up that might actually be the answer behind Coulson’s return.  Is it a Coulson Life Model Decoy?  Will Vision be worked into the plot somehow?  Some trickery on behalf of Nick Fury? Or perhaps something no one has thought of yet?

The series also stars Ming-Na Wen, Elizabeth Henstridge, Tain De Caestecker, and Brett Dalton.  Hit the jump for more and keep in mind that major spoilers lie in wait.

While I’ll remind you that spoilers lie ahead, I’ll put this lovely picture of Cobie Smulders here for any of you who happen to come across this story in your reader feeds.


Smulders looks as confused as we are about this possible explanation of Coulson’s return, but here it goes (via /Film):

In the pilot, it’s revealed Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the ultimate super spy, faked Agent Coulson’s death on purpose to motivate The Avengers. 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. Coulson was forced to hold his breath as part of the ruse and that’s a point of contention among his colleagues  After the fact, Fury moved him to a remote location until things died down, and then he was reinserted into duty at the time of the show.

avengers-chris-hemsworth-clark-greggPersonally, I’m hoping this is just a rumor and that it doesn’t pan out because that’s one lame-ass bit of end-around writing to resurrect a character.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy to see Gregg’s return to the world, but “holding his breath” … really?  Need I remind you that this is a comic book world where an Asgardian God of Thunder exists next to a giant green rage monster and a thawed-out super soldier?  Can we not do better than, “Oh, he totes just held his breath, because that’s exactly the same as being dead.”

I get the idea of Fury using subterfuge to manipulate the Avengers and motivate them to getting the job done, I’m on board with all that, but the old “not really dead” switcheroo is both uninspired and cheapening to Coulson’s “death” scene in the feature film.  The writers have the entire pantheon of Marvel’s heroic history to play with and they chose holding his breath?  (I can’t get over that.)  I’m really hoping this rumor is just that, a rumor.  Perhaps I’m overreacting.  Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Here’s the synopsis for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:

Fresh from his role in the summer’s box office smash, MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS, Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) returns to the worldwide law enforcement organization S.H.I.E.L.D. He puts together a small, highly trained, team of Agents to tackle the cases that haven’t been classified yet, the new, the strange and the unknown. That team consists of straight arrow Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), an expert in combat and espionage; pilot and martial artist Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen); and brilliant if socially awkward scientists Agent Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Agent Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). They’ll be joined by civilian new recruit and computer hacker Skye (Chloe Bennet).

Prepare for an epic adventure that showcases the hope and wonder of the human spirit. This is a world of Super Heroes, aliens and the unusual – of action, spectacle and world spanning stories. The show will speak to the human condition through the lens of our very human, non-powered S.H.I.E.L.D agents – that together we are greater than we are apart, and that we can make a difference in the world.


  • rainestorm

    Not much of a spoiler, really. Honestly, people. Show of hands: did anyone seriously NOT see that coming?

    • Jim

      Seriously. Also, the author took the “hold his breath” out of context.

  • JK

    Kind of lame if it’s true. Would rather have it be his twin brother, life-like android, or clone, than this explanation–all of which suck, if you ask me.

  • Keyvon

    I can always use a good laugh on a Friday.

    I will give them this… it at least fits with the movie to an extent. We already saw Fury using Coulson’s death to motivate his team by splashing blood on his playing cards. Really though, having him faking it already sounds quite dumb, but “holding his breath!?” Luckily, I am almost certain it is just a rumor.

    • Keyvon

      rather, I am certain it is a BS rumor.

  • Flinderbahn

    Errrm….I think you have misunderstood the use of the phrase ‘hold his breath’. He didn’t hold his breath literally to fake his death, it is a figure of speech meaning he kept quiet and out of the way and let his absence and supposed death inspire the Avengers to do their thing. The English language is a beautiful thing – learn its subtleties.

    • Mr. Poop

      …what? I’ve NEVER heard someone use “hold your breath” as a figure of speech for “keeping quiet and out of the way.” I’ve heard it used to imply that someone is waiting (i.e. “don’t hold your breath”), but never in your context. I even did a google search to try and find someone using it the way you imply, and all I get is “don’t hold your breath.” You must be thinking of “hold your tongue.”

      The english language is a beautiful thing… unless you use it wrong.

      • Flinderbahn

        One of the beautiful things about the English language is that people can create new figures of speech all the time. I never said it was pre-existing. The first time I read the /Film article, I immediately assumed the phrase had the meaning I gave it, not the meaning that Collider has now given it. Let’s finish this conversation when the show actually hits the air.

      • Dave Trumbore

        “Let’s finish this conversation when the show actually hits the air.” <- I won’t hold my breath.

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  • tinypony

    I went back and saw Agent Coulson’s death scene. Only Nick Fury got close enough to Coulson, no one else. They can easily say that Coulson never died.
    Of course, there are always the life model decoys. :)

  • spongefist

    The Avengers so OBVIOUSLY played out that he WAS NOT DEAD, only the brainless didn’t see it.

    • eternalozzie

      no … only the brainless cared.

      • spongefist

        Obviously by writing your comment you clearly see that you ‘care’ and are therefore admitting that you too are brainless.

        Nice to have you with us.

  • Adrian

    Somehow I think “hold his breath” was just a bad choice of words in saying that he was forced to go along with the plan.

    And I’m pretty sure that the scene with Nick and Maria made it pretty clear that Coulson hadn’t died – that the thing with the blood and the cards was a part of the ruse. Fury is one badass and determined man, but taking the prized possession of his right hand man and rubbing it in the blood of his corpse to give the team a ‘push’ definitely doesn’t seem like something he would do. Yeah, Coulson didn’t die.

  • Beatific

    So Coulson agreed to being stabbed in the back by Loki? Perhaps Loki was in on it too, yea that must be it….

    • Alex

      Right ? I was thinking around the same thing, I get the whole charade bit to motivate but how could he have predicted his own demise ? Hope Whedon uses the Life Model Decoy route at least because this is utterly stupid.

    • outland196

      Coulson didn’t agree to be stabbed, the decision was made to use his “death” right after the stabbing. Coulson even implies it himself. This idea of calling it a ruse makes sense…but it’s too easy and lazy…

  • outland196

    Coulson didn\’t agree to be stabbed, the decision was made to use his \"death\" right after the stabbing. Coulson even implies it himself. This idea of calling it a ruse makes sense…but it\’s too easy and lazy…

  • Person

    Yeah, cuz comic books never kill off characters only to have them come back later with ridiculous explanations for how they’re still alive….

    Honestly, them doing this is keeping in line with Marvel’s whole cinematic universe and making everything feel more like a legit comic book. Yeah it’s kinda dumb, but so are some elements of the comics, so I’m not too bent out of shape about it.

    And there’s always the chance that this is all complete subterfuge to throw everyone off and gets us talking about the show….

  • GabeNeedsToChaseKnowledge

    Get over it.