Joss Whedon Bummed That Marvel Brought Agent Coulson Back From The Dead

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“Coulson lives!” was the excited cry from many Marvel movie fans when they learned that Agent Phil Coulson would be resurrected for the TV show Agents of SHIELD. But not everyone was a fan of bringing Coulson back, including director Joss Whedon, who felt it took “some of the punch out of” his Avengers movie.

Mental Floss has an interview with Joss Whedon that covers a number of topics: his desire to go back to working on his own original projects, working within Marvel’s policies for movies, and how little time he has for consuming pop culture.


One particularly interesting thing that came up in the interview was Whedon’s feelings about Agent Phil Coulson, a character who originated in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was apparently killed off in The Avengers, and was then brought back for the TV show Agents of SHIELD. Responding to a question about various Marvel movie characters apparently dying only to reappear later, Whedon said:

A lot of people come back in The Winter Soldier. It’s a grand Marvel tradition. Bucky was supposed to die. And the Coulson thing was, I think, a little anomalous just because that really came from the television division, which is sort of considered to be its own subsection of the Marvel universe. As far as the fiction of the movies, Coulson is dead.

But I have to say, watching the first one with my kids—I had not watched the first one since it came out—and then watching it with my kids and watching Coulson die but [thinking], “Yeah, but I know that he kind of isn’t,” it did take some of the punch out of it for me. Of course, I spent a lot of time making sure he didn’t. And at the time it seemed inoffensive, as long as it wasn’t referenced in the second movie, which it isn’t.

There’s a thing where you can do that so many times and there’s nothing at stake. But it’s difficult because you’re living in franchise world—not just Marvel, but in most big films—where you can’t kill anyone, or anybody significant. And now I find myself with a huge crew of people and, although I’m not as bloodthirsty as some people like to pretend, I think it’s disingenuous to say we’re going to fight this great battle, but there’s not going to be any loss. So my feeling in these situations with Marvel is that if somebody has to be placed on the altar and sacrificed, I’ll let you guys decide if they stay there.


Whedon (who is one of the creators and executive producers of Agents of SHIELD) is entitled to his own ideas about the canon (within Marvel’s strictures), but I think he’s going to have a hard time convincing fans that the MCU movies and TV shows don’t share the same continuity. But we can certainly understand how he feels that one of his movie’s big moments was a little cheated in the end.

Q&A: Joss Whedon on Super Heroes, the Pop Culture Mainstream [Mental Floss via]