Agent Coulson Lives in ‘The Avengers’ TV Spin-Off ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’

By  · Published on October 13th, 2012

If you’ve been wearing a black armband in tribute to Agent Phil Coulson since The Avengers opened last May, it’s time to rip the thing off, because you’ve been mourning a decoy. Well, we can ramp up the theory that we saw a Life Model Decoy stabbed to death by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in the movie, but we’ll have to wait for the S.H.I.E.L.D. television series to know just how the character survived.

Apologies to anyone who hasn’t already seen The Avengers (what’s wrong with you?) and has now been spoiled that Coulson is killed off, but now he’s alive again so I guess it doesn’t matter. At the New York Comic Con Marvel television panel today, actor Clark Gregg hit the stage and then was joined via video by Avengers writer/director Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige for the announcement that Gregg will reprise his franchise-connecting role as the lead on the show.

The scoop comes to us from Comic Book Resources (covering the whole panel):

“We all love Clark Gregg, there’s no doubt about that,” Whedon said. “From before we made ‘The Avengers,’ we discussed whether there was a way for him to be a part of the Marvel Universe, perhaps a part of a TV show even after his death. … The fact of the matter is, as much as we love him, now that I’m really running Marvel, I like to keep a type of artistic integrity, which means we don’t stretch the bounds of reality.”

“There was never going to be a ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ show without Agent Phil Coulson!” said Feige, who appeared behind Whedon, wearing a COULSON LIVES shirt.

“He’s headlining the S.H.I.E.L.D. show and always was.” said Whedon.

Coulson himself acknowledged the LBD possibility, and he also referenced the theories that he’s Vision, but it’s been made pretty clear that the series won’t really include superheroes. LBDs were alluded to in The Avengers when Tony Stark answered a call from Coulson saying that the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent had reached his life body double, and they were previously mentioned in Iron Man 2. So they do exist in that universe.

While the explanation will surely matter and could lead to an introduction to Vision later on, whether he’s Coulson or not, the only thing to care about right now is that Coulson lives and we have a very proper character link between films and series.

Gregg, by the way, is no stranger to television work. Besides voicing Coulson in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, he was a regular on The New Adventures of Old Christine and had a short stint as an FBI agent on The West Wing. Interestingly enough, he also appeared in two episodes of The Shield.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.