Hi there, director Phil!
Now, I won’t be talking about the show here right now, although I must say that this is the best story arc since Agents of SHIELD aired a few years ago. As I said before, it’s come to its own as a self-contained show than a glorified commercial for other bigger Marvel properties. So, to celebrate the return of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD this week, I decided to make this one an appreciation of one of the breakout stars within the Marvel cinematic Universe that isn’t a super soldier, thunder god, or genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, who is none other than Phil Coulson himself.
The character played by Clark Gregg, who by the way is really hard for me to imagine being portrayed by anyone else, has become as iconic – yes, I’m going there – as Robert Downey, Jr. being Iron Man: there’s just something perfect about the casting choice made by Marvel here. And since I’ve mentioned things that are hard to imagine, I also find it hard to think that the director of SHIELD has been around for almost a decade now.
Yes, everyone may remember him for the role he played in the first Avengers movie back in 2012, which is actually just fair considering what happened to the character in that film cemented his status as a legitimate fan favorite, but he’s been garnering quite a buzz ever since the first Iron Man movie came out four years prior to that. The point is, Phil Coulson is the kind of character that has all the qualities of a sleeper hit.
Take his early appearances before the first Avengers movie, for example. Between Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Thor, all we knew about Phil was that he was this SHIELD agent keeping tabs on the then rising occurrences of superhuman activity in the Marvel universe. So, what makes him interesting there exactly? Well, what’s so appealing about him at the time is how mysterious his background is. For one, he seems like this very down to earth, middle management-type suit that’s very mild-mannered and looks nothing more than an unassuming corporate employee. But since we found out he’s an agent of SHIELD, we then start to think that maybe there are layers to this character; you can’t be an agent of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division if you didn’t have some impressive skills, after all, be it on or off the field. And it’s funny, actually, to have that contrast between this polite, rather soft-spoken middle-aged man and his profession as a liaison for this global police force.
Then came the Avengers movie, which proved that Phil Coulson is here to stay. In truth, you could see how Marvel Studios only ever intended the character to serve a somewhat disposable role within the MCU. In other words, they were playing it safe. But upon the clamor of fans for more Coulson after his heroic death in the Avengers movie, it would have been a poor business decision for the studio to not bring him back in some form or another, and so we have Agents of SHIELD. The rest, as they say, is history.