Sunday, October 14, 2012

Coulson Lives

NOTE: No, the headline is not spoiling a surprise... which in and of itself is surprising, since this sounds like something that could've made for a killer reveal.

For me, what continues to be the most interesting part of the Marvel Films experiment is that they keep making decisions that feel like conscious, deliberate challenges to every "that won't work in a movie" part of their material. Prior to this, every superhero movie was approached from a perspective of "what has to be done to this comic for it to work as a movie?"... but they've been doing the exact opposite: More and more, the "grand scheme" of the whole enterprise seems to be transforming "the movies" into comics so that their Universe can be carried over as unmolested as possible...

Already we've seen once thought "unfilmmable" aspects of superhero comics like genre-mixing and shared-universe continuity brought successfully to the screen, and the results have made Marvel so confident that they feel comfortable going even deeper into comic-spawned weirdness... like, say, greenlighting a space-opera co-starring a Tree Man and a Space Raccoon as "Phase II's" new Big Shiny Thing. And now, we may possibly be looking forward to comics' infamously loose rules of mortality coming over as well: Yesterday at NYCC, Joss Whedon, Kevin Feige and Clark Gregg confirmed that Gregg's Agent Coulson character - famously killed off in "The Avengers" - is coming back for the pilot of the "S.H.I.E.L.D." TV series.

At this point, no one knows in what form his appearance will be (he could just be there for flashbacks, for example) but Gregg was already joking about LMDs (Life Model Decoys, human-duplicate robots typically used to fake deaths in the comics and referenced in "Avengers" by Tony Stark) at the announcement. I seriously doubt that he'll be popping back into full-human existance (remember, Gregg is also a filmmaker in his own right so I'd be surprised if he committed to a TV series) but having a Coulson-based LMD - or maybe some kind of "digitized memories" hologram or computer-presence - onhand as part of the team would be a clever way of keeping him around while also keeping him dead "for real." It would also leave the door open for the popular fan theory of Coulson becoming the Movie-verse version of The Vision (short version: He's a Terminator who dresses like a superhero and has the digitzed memories and personality of a dead good guy.)


Ralphael said...

He wasn't killed off Bob. At least not 100%.

Nick Fury proved that he was a character capable of lying when he told the Avengers he found the bloody Capt. America cards.

If he lied about where he found the cards, he is also capable of lying about Agents death.

Also, no funeral, body bag, or any other confirmation that he was actually dead.

Peace and Cheers

Lido said...

in your face Rachel Dawes

Benfea said...

Which comic book writer was it that said that in comic books, death is just a "temporary inconvenience"? Truer words were never spoken.

Allan said...


I love you so very much for that line.

Taylor said...

I would be really, really pissed if they brought Coulson back to life.

His death was one of the most critical plot moments in Avengers, as well as one of the most moving and dramatic moments in the movie.

No matter how likeable he is, bringing him back would just be the kind of kick in the balls "You got attached for nothing" that PROVES why retcons like this are such terrible ideas.

All fiction is artifice. To connect to it, we must be willing to identify some sense of consistency and rules in this fictional world. The audience relies on the information you give them.


Mads said...

@ Taylor

Look again. Second time I watched the movie, I interpeted it differently.

Coulson is stabbed (shot?) by Loki, yeah, but clearly not in a fashion that's immediately fatal. Coulson fires a weapon and proceeds to lie down and bleed out. This is all you see.

Fury never explains to his liutenant what aspect of what he told Cap and the others was a lie - he used the death of coulson to push them. He manipulated them with it.

But that's just it - it is made very clear to the viewer that fury is LYING HIS ASS OFF when he gives that speech.

You'd have to show some clever explanation if you brind coulson back - but if you bring him back, this is how it is done.

Guy said...

Nostalgia Critic: But what about coulson?



BookwormOtaku said...

Well, considering he's a semi-major character in the Ultimate Spiderman cartoon (which I have to admit I kinda like despite it's flaws) I'm not surprised.

Anonymous said...

Got to admit, but I was kind of hoping Coulson would only be back in flashbacks and such. I feel it is slightly better when death has consequences...

Vision will be a tough, but really interesting character for them to pull off if he looks like and has the memories of Phil, because he is not Phil, but he is to everyone else who is happy they no longer have to grieve for Phil's loss

Aiddon said...

another reason comics get really annoying and why Marvel's pandering with their movies is kinda stupid: the goddamned status quo. Deaths mean very little and characters arcs are practically non-existent since whenever something changes someone just gets out an eraser or retcons it. It's why I have to read comic arcs in a vacuum.

Daniel R said...

@Anon 11:11

Oooh! That Vision thing sounds like a brilliant idea, I really hope they go with that!

It's Coulson, but also its not. Maybe some characters are initially dismissive of him, "You're not Phil! You're just software!"

While others are just glad to have him back.
Great idea!

As for the death has no consequence's thing;
I've never really bought that. Even in comics where everyone gets brought back eventually, death always has consequences. Thor's first reunion with Iron Man after he died in Ragnarok is one of Marvel Comics best moments in the past decade. Because Thor was disappointed that while he was dead, they were having a civil war like petulant children.

Batman's semi recent death during Final Crisis made nothing but change the comics. It allowed Grant Morrison to give us: Dick Greyson's tenure as Batman, Damian Wayne taking up the mantle of Robin, and Tim Drake's ascension to Red Robin, not to mention the genius that is Batman Inc.

But see, Whedon isn't dumb, he knows Coulson's death shouldn't be meaningless. This probably isn't going to be a useless retcon to reaffirm the status quo. The best retcons are the ones that supplant the status quo with a newer one. Recently, Kieron Gillen brought Loki back to life. This really wasn't a surprise was it? I mean, how can you have Thor without Loki? But he made a key change. He made him 12.
This not only gave us Loki back but it turned out to be a massive paradigm shift. Kid Loki interacts with Thor, the other Asgardians, and even himself in a completely different way. Since then, Loki's headlining the Journey into Mystery series and lo and behold, its one of Marvel's best books right now.
Retcons are usually called stupid and regressive but they don't have to be.

Andrew said...

I think the key point of discussion is not "Should Coulson's death be reverted", but rather "Was he actually killed at all."

To be fair, the super-Coulson-fan in me doesn't want him to be dead, and is probably looking for any thread that he might not be. But as several commenters have said, there isn't ever a totally clear, unambiguous "HES DEAD" moment in the movie.

The Timeline:
He's stabbed. Obviously its not through the heart or it would be instantly fatal. He lives long enough to give Loki a good talking too, shoot the guy, then have a somewhat lengthy chat with Fury.
His gives his message of hope and his eyes kinda blank out, paramedics rush in. This is the last shot of Coulson at all.
Fury informs everyone that Coulson died, then gives a speech to Stark and Cap about Coulson's legacy, and shows them the bloody cards.
It is prominently revealed that Fury lied about the cards, and given the other lies or half-truths he's told, it isn't unreasonable at all to think that he would manipulate like this.

The point in all this, is that Joss Whedon is not a fool. He knows the kinda fans he's dealing with here, the ones that will pick apart EVERYTHING, and I would be willing to stake a lot to say that he put that ambiguity there on purpose. Could it be just to make us speculate and guess for kicks? Absolutely. Could it also mean that Coulson was not killed? Speaking as objectively as possible, its POSSIBLE, a stretch but possible.

Andrew said...

To clarify: If it were a situation where he was killed without a doubt, then yes, retconning that would be dumb.

But I think its clear, or at least up for discussion, whether he was or not.

Gordy said...

2nd time lucky, hopefully.

This wouldn't be the first "just when you thought he was dead" moment in a Marvel movie. Remember how they brought Xavier back in the post-credits scene in 'X-Men: The Last Stand'?

That movie has its flaws (though I've never understood quite why so many regard it as an unwatchable piece of shit other than hatred for Brett Ratner) but I liked that bit. :)

Capt Derp said...

I think this is a sign that the dollar signs are starting to take over in the eyes of the creators. One thing I would not begrudge any movie is if a character has to die. I don't care how attached I am to that character--if they are dictated for a purpose, then they MUST fulfill that purpose. They spent several movies since Iron Man attaching us to Coulson's character, and his put-down was the "push" needed to finally tie the team together at least for one act of defense of the Earth, and a tumultuous-yet-cohesive agreement to meet again should that act need repeating.

Coulson served his purpose. He was a damned awesome character. Leave his revival to the FANS, and as WRITERS, continue on with your story. I'm not even saying "play it safe", but most definitely they should seriously consider their plans before attempting to milk this revolutionary cow completely dry.

KingOfDoma said...

Can one of the things "that won't work in a movie" be a female protagonist? Of the Big Two, Marvel is the least burned by this idea. There's no Catwoman or Supergirl in their history, just Elektra (and, might I add, these all didn't suck because there was a female lead, they all sucked because they were awfully written and awfully directed). Let's go the Miss Marvel route. Or make the major selling point of a new Hulk movie Jennifer Walters. And here's the extent of my insanity: a Great Lakes Avengers/X-Men/Initiative movie with Squirrel Girl as the lead. Get ballsy, Marvel! Or, um... ovarish? ... you know what I mean.

(And yes, I know it's RUMORED that Miss Marvel is gonna be lead on Guardians, but I'll believe it when I see it.)