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Off My Mind: The Future of Agent Phil Coulson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Is there still a place for him in future Marvel films?

Ever since Clark Gregg's Agent Phil Coulson made his debut in 2008's Iron Man, he's added quite a bit to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Coulson doesn't have any superpowers but has played an important role in the movies. The importance doesn't come from the fact that he's been the glue needed to bring the Avengers together by doing his part in the films prior to The Avengers. He may not have had a role in Captain America: The First Avenger but his enthusiasm towards the Captain in The Avengers more than made up for it.

Coulson became the everyman. He was the fanboy. In some ways, he was us. Coulson's character may have been a tad cynical in the beginning but clearly he wanted to believe in heroes. This is what we discovered as his character gained more screen time. Coulson added humor and heart to the movies. His presence made a superhero fantasy film a tiny bit more believable.

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But what's next for Agent Coulson and Clark Gregg? His future has been up in the air with the question of where could his character go next? There will be some spoilers from The Avengers. Hopefully you've had a chance to see it by now as the worldwide box office has passed 1.3 billion dollars.

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What happened to Agent Coulson in The Avengers was extremely unfortunate but necessary, in some ways. The team needed a reason to regroup and actually become a team. They needed something in order for them to live up to their name. New York City was being attacked and numerous civilian lives were at risk but the members needed that personal touch to give them the drive to get back on their feet and defeat the enemy.

Many of us watching the movie refuse to believe what happened. We all know that death doesn't have much meaning in comic books. Characters die all the time only to come back eventually through some miraculous incident. Couldn't the same apply to the comic book movies? The problem is, it's usually the heroes that are able to make their way back from the land of the dead. The civilian characters aren't usually as fortunate. It would have been cheesy but we could easily see an end scene where somehow, Coulson 'got better' in The Avengers. Despite the reshoot for the final after-the-credits scene, Coulson was no where in sight.

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Since his final scene, there has been a bit of an outcry for Clark Gregg to return and one suggestion is by becoming part of the Vision. The Vision is the synthezoid member of the Avengers that had the brain patterns of Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man (who was dead at the time), which gave him his humanity. With all the heart Coulson's character had, who better for a mechanical character to have as the basis of his personality?

Except, Coulson becoming the Vision would just be a bit weird. It turns out even Clark Gregg isn't thrilled with the idea. He voiced his thoughts on the idea in a recent interview.

Vision is cool, but I would hate to be any A.I. life form. If I got to come back, I would need to still be somebody who could wisecrack, because my favorite part of the job was that if anybody was going to tease anybody about their diva superhero outfit or whatever, it would be me.
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It seems unlikely that his popular character could just be killed off. As mentioned, his demise played a crucial role. But Marvel has already shown that they value the character.

In recent comics, Agent Coulson has gained a bigger presence in the pages of BATTLE SCARS and SCARLET SPIDER #6.

Agent Coulson is also part of The Ulitmate Spider-Man animated series. With S.H.I.E.L.D. involved with Spider-Man's training, Coulson is acting as the principal at Peter's high school in order to keep an eye on things.

No one ever really stays dead in comics. There are a couple exception but popularity often helps in getting writers to come up with creative ways to bring them back.

Of course there is one way to bring him back that has surely been thrown around. LIFE MODEL DECOY. They do exist in the Cinematic Universe because Tony Stark made a joke about them when trying to avoid a phone call with Coulson. Coulson could return as an LMD or the one that met his demise could have been one. The latter would be a better option as Clark Gregg has stated he doesn't want to return as a "any A.I. life form." It's possible that Coulson or Nick Fury sent on out to try to deal with Loki. The death could have been carried on in order to give the team the inspiration (or kick in the pants) they needed. Would anyone (us viewers) really be surprised if Fury let everyone believe Coulson was dead when it was really a LMD?

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Agent Coulson may not be a superpowered character but he's proven to be an important part in the Marvel films. His comments and jokes help to let us know the filmmakers are having fun and not taking it all too seriously. When you try to bring comic book characters to life, there's always going to be that sense of disbelief needed to make the movie work.

With Coulson making light of certain things, it helps keeps us entertained and in the movie. He is still listed as being rumored to be in a Nick Fury movie on imdb. We'll have to keep our fingers crossed that they will find a believable way for his return.