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Clark Gregg Talks His Return to The Marvel Universe

Clark Gregg

High on the velvety steps of the Seattle International Film Festival's opening night gala, I had a chance to speak with Clark Gregg, the one actor who has been in as many Marvel films as Robert Downey Jr. From the first inklings of the Marvel Movie Universe in Iron Man, Gregg has played Agent Coulson, an uncharacteristically likeable but no-nonsense agent of S.H.I.E.L.D; the super-secret, super-hero organization led by Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. S.H.I.E.L.D has had a hand in all of the Marvel movies leading up to The Avengers as they are the organization responsible for assembling the troop of heroes together and Gregg, alongside Jackson, have been the face of The Avengers years before the movie's release.

For those who haven't seen The Avengers, I'm going to go ahead and assume that you never will but will still give you fair warning that there are some SPOILERS in here for it. In the second act of The Avengers, Gregg's Coulson is run through by villain Loki with an enchanted scepter, effectively gutting Coulson and leaving him to die wide-eyed on camera. Later, his death is used as motivation for the team to drop their egos and unite into a viable team. As such, Coulson is the unsung hero, the catalyst for the Avengers assembly and their saving NYC.

With the announcement of Marvel's network television show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, many were speculating the return of Coulson, even though this wouldn't strictly make sense in relation to The Avengers. However, it turns out that Coulson is still alive...but Gregg had no idea that he was.


What was it like having your character come back from the dead?

Clark Gregg: Well even though I knew that this was the comic book world, I didn't get my hopes up. His death was the motivation for the Avengers to unite so it was very cut and dry. I was sad to be leaving this character that I played for four movies but it had to be done for the sake of the story.

So you had no idea that you would be returning?

CG: No. It seemed really definitive. When we were shooting the scene where he dies, I kept asking if they want shoot it again where they just graze me, because they gutted me pretty good. I thought if I was ever going to return, they might want a version where I didn't look so dead but that was what we went with. When I got the call, I was as surprised as anyone else. I thought he was dead.

What has it been like working on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D?

CG: It's been really similar to the movie because Joss is writing, directing and producing. But instead of having all the superheroes, this is about real world people and the group that Coulson leads and works with.


The question that remains is whether or not Whedon had any intention of keeping Coulson alive after the series. I would assume that Whedon built himself a little loophole with the whole "blood-covered cards cards from the locker" gambit, giving himself an out if The Avengers was the success that it eventually was and he wanted to continue being able to use Coulson.

With Whedon given the reins to the television show, the only natural helmer of that project was Gregg's Coulson so it goes without saying that the whole revival, however deviant and perhaps unwarranted, is a necessary evil to the success of that spinoff.

As to whether or not the television show will be a hit or not, things are still up in the air but my gut is telling me that it'll be dead in the water in terms of critical reaction but will still claim a legion of fans who want to be in the know for the ongoing Marvel Movie Universe saga. For those of you who haven't seen the trailer for the ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. check it out here.

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