Avengers: Infinity War director Anthony Russo dodged a question about whether Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) will appear in the film. First appearing in the film that kickstarted the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man, Coulson became a fan-favorite character. That’s why it was so tragic when he was killed by Loki in The Avengers – and why it worked to finally unite the team of heroes against the God of Mischief. However, while Marvel TV revived Coulson for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., currently in its fifth season, the movies never acknowledged his resurrection.
Instead, the films have largely ignored the television side of the MCU, while the TV series – spanning ABC, Netflix, and Hulu, and soon branching out – do most of the heavy lifting in terms of keeping the sprawling superhero universe connected. Still, fans have been wondering for years when the Avengers would learn that their fallen friend is back amongst the living. Many hoped to see some kind of payoff in Avengers: Infinity War, since the film is set to unite all the major movie heroes. While those at Marvel Studios have tried to temper expectations about any kind of TV crossover, one of Infinity War’s directors may have dropped a hint.
As reported by BuzzFeed News’ Adam B. Vary, co-director Anthony Russo was asked whether Coulson will appear in the movie during the press conference for Avengers: Infinity War this weekend. At first, Russo joked about wanting to talk about bass fishing (Chris Pratt had previously dodged a potentially spoiler-filled question by discussing bass fishing), but then spoke about the process of constructing the story of Infinity War. He said, “We thought about everybody in the MCU, and how they could play a role in the story.”
Russo didn’t confirm Coulson will appear in Avengers: Infinity War, but he also didn’t flat out deny the character would return somehow in the movie. There’s infamously a disconnect between Marvel Studios and Marvel TV, with the divisions answering to different leadership despite both being under the Disney/Marvel umbrella. However, Gregg is undoubtedly the biggest bridge between the film and TV sides of the MCU. Not only did he start out on the film side, but his story continued on TV. Most importantly, though, he’s set to return to the movies with a role in Captain Marvel.
Of course, Captain Marvel is set in the ’90s, meaning it takes place before Iron Man and The Avengers, so it’s quite different than Coulson appearing in Infinity War. It’s been argued that acknowledging Coulson’s resurrection in the MCU would undermine the narrative importance of his death in The Avengers. But him living on in the universe without the Avengers knowing is arguably one of Marvel’s biggest unanswered questions. So having it addressed in Infinity War would undoubtedly please fans.
Plus, Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb has said that the question of an Avengers and Coulson reunion would be “resolved” in some way, but that it would be surprising. (Though with Coulson’s death set up as a major plot point this season on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s possible it may be resolved with him simply dying again.) Still, Russo dodging the question about Coulson at the Avengers: Infinity War press conference is sure to get fans wondering whether the character will be referenced in the upcoming movie. Thankfully, with Infinity War set to hit theaters this week, fans won’t have to wait long to find out if he does, in fact, return.
KEY RELEASE DATES
Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 release date: Apr 27, 2018
Ant-Man & The Wasp release date: Jul 6, 2018
Captain Marvel release date: Mar 8, 2019
The Avengers 4 / Untitled Avengers Movie release date: May 3, 2019
Untitled Spider-Man: Homecoming Sequel release date: Jul 5, 2019