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VIDEO: Analyzing the Avengers: Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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He’s our awesome everyman who fights alongside the Avengers in a snappy suit. Today, Ursa takes on that most mild-mannered of badasses, Agent Phil Coulson, and discusses why Clark Gregg made Movieverse Coulson too adorable to live, along with sacrificial lambs, and death, destroyer of worlds.

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  • Yeah, I liked Coulson, too; and his death in the movie hurt me a little.  I don’t care if it is official or not:  Agent Phil Coulson was an Avenger.

  • Tim Terrell

    I found it a bit hard to believe that the core Avengers were supposed to come together over Coulson’s death. Most of them didn’t know him that well, except Tony, who didn’t even like him. Natasha and Clint  worked with him and didn’t give his death a 2nd thought.

    Also, I found it hard to believe the slightly frumpy Coulson was a top SHIELD agent. Most of them look bad ass and in shape (Maria Hill, Natasha, Clint and even Nick Fury). He certainly doesn’t fit the average svelte SHIELD agent in the comic book.

    • Cristiona

      He was a top “agent” because he was employed by SHIELD.  He was less a troubleshooter (see trouble; shoot it) and more a fixer.  He was more a field overseer than anything.  Look at the scene with the Destroyer in Thor.  He wasn’t there to fight the thing, he was there to lead the team that would have to fight it.

      You wouldn’t expect a section chief in the CIA to infiltrate a terrorist cell, but that doesn’t make him less of a CIA member.

  • I agree, if Clark Gregg returns in any form, it should not be as Coulson, at least not as we know him. I’m intrigued by the popular idea of him becoming the Vision, as anyone who reads the comics knows, the Vision may have the memories and brain imprint of someone else but he is decidedly NOT just that someone else in a robot body, he’s completely different. So we’d get the benefit of seeing Clark Gregg do his think again without devaluing Coulson’s story arc, in fact giving him a whole NEW character arc. Presumably he’d be the Spock of the group (not the Data, his personality is closer to Spock in everything I’ve read). BTW, I sincerely hope the pilot of the SHIELD TV show is set before Avengers, because if the rumors about Coulson appearing in it are true, he’s a likely a LMD or something, which would be a complete cop out.

    Although, if they ever need someone to fill a similar role to Coulson, they’ve got a backup waiting in the form of Jasper Sitwell. You might not have noticed him unless you’ve watched the short film “Item 47”, but he’s appeared as an extra in Thor & the Avengers, always as Coulson’s no. 2 guy (which I guess makes him Fury’s no. 3). He’s got bigger roles in the short films “The Consultant” and the aforementioned “Item 47” and his overall demeanor is not too dissimilar from Coulson’s. Plus as an added bonus he’s actually a character from the comics, so boo-yah.

  • Zekk_Jedi_Knight

    Ursa, I think that’s when everyone started to love him 😀

    You definitely make/compile the best arguments I’ve seen for not bringing him back 🙁 [we all miss the Son of Coul]

    As I’ve said elsewhere I have great trepidations toward the new cartoon, but Coulson is a point in it’s favor 🙂

    If Coulson is to be brought back, I Hope that the new ‘SHIELD’ show reveals that Coulson didn’t actually die, because honestly out of all the fan theories for how to “bring him back” the best is that he didn’t actually die (no LMD, no Vision…just that the medical team actually did save him off panel) and both he and Fury perpetrated the lie of his death, because it was the best way to make the Avengers work together.

    Going that route would add so much more to both Coulson and Fury’s characters, not the least of which is showing (in the most effective way possible) that both are men who’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals and that even though they’re on the heroes sides, the Avengers (and we the audience) would be fools to just take them at their words.

    Bonus points for the fact that it sets up future conflict (and mixed feelings amongst them) when the Avengers realize that not only he isn’t dead, but that his ‘death’ was actually part of Fury and him tricking them so they’d band together to take on the trickster god. And have it be that he’s been in a recovery ward, so that gives more sympathy for Coulson (again for both audience and Avengers).

    Finally, by doing a very mundane way of bringing back a character they can ease audiences into the more outlandish returns from the other side that comics are so notorious for 😉

    PS: sorry just have to ask have you read those/other fanfics? (cause I may have read a few too… including some that did indeed have Clint/Coulson pairing which I would never have thought of, but I can’t think of an argument against [other than Mockingbird, she is the only valid argument against that pairing:)]
    I don’t even read much/any fanfiction but Avengers Movie-verse keeps pulling me in, and I’m okay with that)

    • Jill Bearup

      Hawkeye/Coulson isn’t a pairing I really seek out, though it has cropped up in the fic series ToasterVerse, which also has a long and complicated name, but starts on archiveofourown.org with ‘Some Things Shouldn’t Be A Chore’. Though the series is mostly Tony-centric.

      You can also tag search, if you’re looking for a specific pairing or character. I tend to go straight for stories with Darcy in them, mostly because she seems to have become fangirl stand-in, so gets to do hilarious/ill-advised/occasionally awesome things. And tase people. Which I’m all for.

      • Zekk_Jedi_Knight

         I agree with all you just said, I too stumbled upon the pairing and don’t seek it out, but I’m still amused it exists (of course the joke w/Avengers-verse has become that there is shipping in every single direction, so, par for the course I suppose)

        I have not however even heard of ToasterVerse before, but if you’re recommending it I’ll check it out. I assume from the title we’re talking robot duplicates of all characters?

        and yes, I’ve never seen Darcy handled badly, whenever she pops up in a story it seems to improve it (even if I’m a little wierded out by her often getting paired with Bruce [if he thinks he can make a go of a relationship, shouldn’t he be seeking out Betty?] but again Avengers-ships). I’m all for her tasing people too; I can’t remember where I found it, but someone made some gifs of movie footage (Thor and Avengers) with fan-made subtitles to have Loki show-up, just to say how impressed/happy he was that she’d tazed Thor 🙂

        and yes I know about tag searching, I’ve been through a bit of searching on both archiveofourown.org and fanfiction.net. And if we’re being completely honest here, I first started reading such because I wanted to see if there was any good (and clean, or at least clean for fan-fiction) Natasha and Steve pairing works, since they make far more sense together (IMHO) than any other possible romantic pairing from the film (and the closest you can find in comics is her and Bucky, which isn’t bad mind you, but isn’t the same [apparently some writers have wanted to pair them but never got the chance, though the 3 Animated Avengers movies had them as becoming an item]). Any of the good ones I’ve found of that have been appropriately both awesome and adorable as a couple. I especially liked most of one ongoing where they/the whole team adopted an x-chromosome clone of Steve they rescued (mainly because: Most Awesome Parents ever/at least tied with Storm and Black Panther).

        All of that said, I really hope they resist any urge to pair Black Widow off with any of the rest of the team in subsequent movies and the cartoon. Both because of how much I liked the intimate, yet non-romantic friendship Clint and her had, and because at least right now she’s the only woman on the team, and she should not be relegated to “just the love interest” for anyone. Sadly it’d be more likely for some writer/director to do that in a future film, even if it was introduced well.

        Sorry Ursa, I keep going off on tangents, thanks for bearing with/hope that’s okay

  • Cristiona

    Excellent episode and bang on about everything.  I also noticed that he was slouching in the first two Iron Man movies (especially the first).  I wonder how much of the evolution was him actually changing and how much of it was him no longer feeling the need to act like a dweeb and be underestimated.

    • Jill Bearup

      Ah, good point. In A Funny Thing… he does that ‘I’m so unassuming and dweeby’ act to perfection, even after he’s just disarmed two shotgun-wielding thugs with no weapon in front of a witness. 

      Him paying for his donuts and walking out just killed me.

  • Sofie Liv

    I do believe the entire idea of him being in a ill fitting ugly suit by the beginning of the first Iron man movie was because he was setting himself up in a character.

    A none-threatenly dweeby character whom would have an easier time getting close to Tony Stark.
    Shield does that, making themselves play characters.. just look at Natasha.
    Only problem is that Tony saw right through it and thus immediatly stampled Coulson as “guy who wants to manipulate me and tell me what to do = not trust worthy.. go away.”

    But underneath all of that, he was always a smooth well-trained agent whom could transform in a moments notice does he wish.

    But well, there just is some-thing about a cosy homely nice looking guy whom turns out to actually be a bad-ass when put under pressure (hey John Watson.)

    And I think we just all fell in love with him doing the Avengers. mostly. yeah, I liked that this is a character whom is actually incredible competent. He’s a shield agent, and you just don’t become that, not only is he a shield agent.. he i the shield agent that controls and delegates other agents, he is one of their higher ranking boss’s.
    It could have been such an easy mistake to make to make him dumb for comedies sake.. people do that, just look at almost every comedic superhero made. “How do we make this funny.. Lets make the hero incompetent and the villain groan at that incompetence!” .. that’s why I like Darkwing, he is a funny yet still highly competent hero in his own right.
    The same way Coulson is a loveable and even funny, but highly competent agent, so.. yeah.

    • Yeah I definitely thought it was a cover how he acted in Iron Man. Whether that was the intention or not and they went back to make it so after the other movies with a much more competent Coulson is an interesting question.

  • You got his first name right!  It’s Agent!

  • Necroglobule

    Agent Coulson should totally pull a Harley Quinn and get introduced into the canon Marvel universe. He’s -that- awesome. 

    For those who don’t get that, Batman villain Harley Quinn was created solely for Batman: The Animated Series. She proved to be so popular that she was introduced into the DCU canon proper.

    • Sofie Liv

       Don’t forget that Batgirl was created solely for the Adam West Batman show, and again proved so popular that she has been in almost every cannon, including the comic book cannon, ever since 😉

      And who ever said that show did nothing good for the superhero franchise?

      • Necroglobule

        The most prolific instance of this phenomenon was probably with Superman. In fact, most of what we know of Superman today comes from the comics adapting certain things from other media. It was the radio show and the Fleischer cartoons that gave Supes the ability to fly, and also it was where kryptonite was first introduced. 

        I happen to disagree with anyone who disses the Adam West Batman for being so campy, did they READ the 60’s Batman comics? That silly TV show captured the spirit of the comics of its particular era more faithfully than any televised comic adaptation since. The show was silly and camp because the COMICS at the time were silly and camp. It wouldn’t have been that far-fetched for Cesar Romero’s Joker to be running around Gotham committing ‘boners’. It would have been worth it just to see them try to get THAT particular plotline past the censors.

        • Sofie Liv

           Hell, 90’s Batman tas kind of just shaped what comics would become after that point.. re-shaped.

          Seriously, comics before that and after that just comes from that single show, it created comics as how we persee them today. Before that.. comics were silly! And the most serious adaptation of them up till that point was Bill Bixbys the Hulk which went out of its way to be as un-comic like as humanly possible. Which granted worked for them, but that show just wouldn’t have worked today :/

          So like it or not, the moving media affects how you percieve comics more than the comics themselves does…

          • Thomas Stockel

            I have to disagree with you, Sophie.  Comics had already been moving towards more mature fare going back to Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s X-Men from the late seventies.  Slowly you saw the industry changing, culminating in DC’s company wide reboot in ’87 when they did away with a lot of the Silver Age fat (Also during this time you saw Frank Miller’s Batman, The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore’s Watchmen as well as a healthy secondary market with comic companies like 1st, Dark Horse, Eclipse, Comico, and independent press releases like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.).  But then by the nineties things went utterly to hell.  Speculators began buying tons of comics not to read them, but as potential investments.  And then we saw a string of lousy creative decisions; ill conceived crossovers and events, artists breaking away from Marvel to form Image Comics with the delusion they could write, numerous gimmicks like foil covers, multiple covers, trading cards kept in sealed comics.

            Every other super heroine seemed to be wearing a thong, Sophie.

            The Batman cartoon did not affect anything.  They killed Superman, broke Batman’s back, replaced Wonder Woman with a blonde, made the Hal Jordan Green Lantern turn evil.  Marvel Comics was not doing any better; watch Linkara’s episode regarding the Clone Saga and how the Marvel marketing department began calling the shots and had the Clone Saga drag out for two years(!).  By the end of the nineties a lot of the status quo had returned but I wouldn’t say the overall quality was there.  Sure, there were gems like Grant Morrison’s JLA but does anyone remember that Marvel comic where The Punisher was an avenging ghost?  Yeah, Marvel would like you to forget that one.

            And the industry is still suffering today.  While comic book movies are doing incredibly well now, comic sales are not.  DC’s latest stunt was another company wide reboot where the only comics selling well are, well, the comics that were selling well before the reboot.  And after years of tiresome mega-events Marvel is attempting another stunt with the “Marvel Now” thing.

            Bruce Timm performed a miracle with Batman, The Animated Series.  But he did not have that much of an impact outside of his series, none that I saw.

          • $36060516

            Yeah, as someone who lived through all that, gotta say Sophie that I agree you are wrong, the Batman cartoon did not change the maturity level of comic books.  It was marketed mainly as a childrens’ cartoon which played in the after-school timeslot along with other childrens’ cartoons.  The Batman Adventures comic book series DC published which attempted to appeal to fans of that TV show were also marketed towards children with tamed language and violence and simplified artwork.  Mostly agree with Thomas’s assessment.

          • Yeah, I think you have to pin a more mature Batman on partly Denny O’Neil/Steve Englehart in the 70s and of course Frank Miller when he got his hands on the character in the 80s and recreated what he’d done with Daredevil.
            I’d argue 90s DC was better overall than what happened at say Marvel who ratched up variant covers of everything and almost destroyed Spider-Man their flagship character.

          • Zekk_Jedi_Knight

             I just wish comic writers today got this, esp regarding things like New52 Starfire in comics vs Starfire in Teen Titans cartoon

    • Black Doug

      You’re in luck–he made the jump to comics this year, along with Black Nick Fury. (Who is White Nick Fury’s son. Yeah, don’t ask.)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Coulson#Comic_books

      He’ll be in Secret Avengers with Fury, Hawkeye, Mockingbird (Hawkeye’s ex-wife), Black Widow, Hulk and (I think) Maria Hill.

      Also, in the Hawkeye episode, will you bring up the current comic? If you haven’t read it, it’s basically the best book Marvel is putting out.

  • Thomas Stockel

    Good analysis, and I’m glad you split Clint and Phil.  While Clint did not get a great deal of screen time the guys deserves his time in the sun.  And yeah, those pics have made me laugh.  I think there has been this attempt by Marvel and DC both to cut back on the cheesecake; you can see it in the redesign of Power Girl and Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel’s costume, among others.  We have come a long way from the nineties where every Extreme(!) heroine was wearing a thong.

    And you mentioned David Weber.  My inner nerd went “Squeeeeeeeeeeeee!” at that. 🙂  Honestly, I think Weber is my favorite writer.  His Honor Harrington series is the best military sci-fi/space opera out there and after about fourteen or so books(!) it has truly become an epic.  If anyone wants to know whether or not it is the series for them, pick up book one, On Basilisk Station.  It is a good self contained story.

  • MephLord

    I hope Maria Hill gets an expanded role in the future of Marvel movies.  I liked what limited material she was presented with in Avengers.  And if you ever watch Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes, you’ll see that she’s a very cool character in her own right.

    • Necroglobule

      I also crush hard for Cobie Smulders.

      • FullofQuestions1

        Me too.