Countdown to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Day 9: Coulson Lives! How?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
What secrets is Coulson hiding behind those glasses? What does he know that we don’t? © Marvel / ABC

All this month, GeekMom has been counting down the days until the September 24th premiere of what may be the geekiest show ever, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., by talking about all things S.H.I.E.L.D.-related. Check out the show’s tag to see all previous posts.

Today, we try to solve the mystery of exactly Agent Phil Coulson survived after his “death” in The Avengers.

That’s been the burning question ever since it was announced Clark Gregg would be reprising his role as Coulson in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  The most popular theory is that Coulson did die and he’s been replaced by an Life Model Decoy (LMD) or that he was an LMD during his “death” and instead he’s now the real Coulson.

That seems quite likely but there are a number of other possibilities to explain his return. Our top five:

5. Skrull!

The Skrulls are the shapeshifters of the Marvel Universe, even recently trying to take over the Earth via a plan that carefully replaced key leaders and superheroes with Skrull agents. But given that Coulson is answering to someone at S.H.I.E.L.D., this seems unlikely. They would know Coulson was really dead unless the Skrull took Coulson’s place and got rid of the body without anyone knowing, which I suppose is possible if the Skrull was already on the Helicarrier in The Avengers.

4. Dire Wraith!

The Dire Wraiths are a separate evolutionary off-shoot of the Skrulls but their shapeshifting can be a little more deadly because they absorb memories of the humans they replace. In the Marvel Universe, Wraiths were tracked down to Earth by Rom the Spaceknight, who had a special gun-shaped light to expose the Dire Wraith hidden in human form. Once Rom found the imposters, he killed them. Naturally, this led to problems with authorities who thought Rom a murderer.

Wraiths can take the memories of a human by using their spiked tongue to suck out brains, which causes their victim’s body to dissolve into some sort of fluid. So that would solve the problem of getting rid of the original Coulson’s body without S.H.I.E.L.D. knowing.

Still the Wraiths are obscure even by my geeky standards, so this also seems unlikely.

3. The Great Marvel God Jack Kirby bought him back from Heaven.

Jack Kirby as God
The Marvel Universe has a God and he looks a lot like Jack Kirby. Panel from Fantastic Four written by Mark Waid, art by Mike Wieringo, © Marvel Comics.

This is not as far-fetched as it seems, given Jack Kirby is the God in Marvel’s version of Heaven, at least as envisioned by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo in their run on the Fantastic Four. In Fantastic Four #511, the team travels to Heaven to rescue The Thing/Ben Grimm from death and encounter God, who looks a lot like Jack Kirby. Since Kirby was the co-creator of the Fantastic Four, S.H.I.E.L.D., and much of the Marvel universe, this seems wonderfully appropriate to me.

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However, I don’t expect metaphorical means brought Coulson back to life, given it’s been avoided so far in the cinematic universe.

2. Clone!

The Marvel Universe has a long history of cloning. Spider-Man was replaced for a while by his clone who turned out to be not his clone and instead the clone was really the guy who thought he was Peter Parker. Yes, it’s as messy as the dream that wiped away a season of Dallas. (If you ever want to scare a long-time Spider-Man fan, whisper “Clone Saga” into their ear.)

But other heroes have been cloned, notably Captain America, as the Red Skrull cloned the good Captain in order to have a perfect body. It’s a science-based theory, which fits with the cinematic universe, and S.H.I.E.L.D. might be perfectly capable of cloning someone.

However, it is an obvious solution, so chances are probably only fair to middlin’ that this Coulson is a clone.

1. Alternate Universe Coulson!

There have been so many alternate universes in the Marvel Universe that an entire title, Exiles, was devoted to time-traveling agents who hopped between alternate universes to set things right. Maybe this alternate Coulson never showed up in time to slow Loki down in The Avengers and dire things happened because of it, so when presented with a chance to replace his dead alternate self and fix history, he jumped at it.

That seems very like Phil Coulson, whatever universe he’s from.

Writer, Mom, Geek and Superhero. though usually not all four on the same day. Author of the award-winning Phoenix Institute Superhero series and the steampunk novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract.