We’ve known for a while that Clark Gregg‘s dear departed Agent Coulson would be coming back to the Marvel Universe for S.H.I.E.L.D. The question has been how exactly that will happen. Was Coulson’s “death” a set-up by Fury? Might Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. scenes be flashbacks? Could the new Coulson be a Life Model Decoy or a Skrull? Was the Coulson who got stabbed by Loki a Life Model Decoy or a Skrull?
Joss Whedon had something to say about it to a crowd at SXSW. Sadly (or happily—your mileage may vary) it didn’t clear up all that much. There’s still plenty of room for us to be Jossed.
“I’ll tell you guys this, Heimlich,” Whedon joked, before effectively clamming up about the show. “I can’t talk about it,” he admitted, but said that he did bring Coulson back from the dead for the ABC drama. “Yes. For realizes. [sic]”
Soooo… bringing Coulson back from the dead literally, as in Loki did kill him and he’s been revived somehow? Or “bringing him back from the dead” in the more colloquial sense, in that he’s coming back, which we already knew?
JOSSSSSS! *shakes fist*
Whedon also spoke to Deadline about Coulson and how he fits into the S.H.I.E.L.D. universe, and while there’s not much we can extrapolate from the quote about how Coulson cheated death, it’s still pretty cool (emphasis mine):
“The idea of the Little Guy is something that I am very fierce about, and there has never been a better Little Guy than Clark Gregg. That intrigued me, this world around the superhero community. It’s the people whose shop windows get blown up when the Destroyer shows up. It’s the more intimate stories that belong on television that we can really tap into the visual style and ethos, and even some of the mythology, of the Marvel movies. I think we’ve put together another really great ensemble headed by Clark. And how much it’s actually seeding or hinting or reacting to what’s going on in the movies is something we’ll let play out as we go. For me the most important thing is that people fall in love with it on its own merits, rather than constantly asking, ‘Is there gonna be an Avenger?’ Well, there’s not gonna be a Hulk because that guy’s too expensive.”
So… since Gregg heads the ensemble his scenes probably won’t be in flashback, because there will be too many of them… unless there’s a sort of Once Upon a Time-style split narrative. But unless I’m mistaken we’ve known for some time that he would have a major role, not just a few cameos to spice things up Coulson-style. So, yeah. I got nothin’.
The thing about “seeding or hinting or reacting to what’s going on in the movies” caught my eye. Might S.H.I.E.L.D. take place concurrent with the Marvel movies, so we’ll get to see how the agency reacts to Nick Fury’s Big Week? That might explain why the man himself would be too busy to show up.