Looking back at Jon Favreau’s Iron Man - the first film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – you’ll notice that the role played by Clark Gregg, Agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D., was a rather small one. He appeared in only three sequences, and his biggest bit of “action hero” behavior was blowing up a lock with a small explosive. Small as the part was, however, Coulson quickly became a fan favorite character and Gregg not only appeared in multiple Marvel Studios films and shorts in the years following, but is now the star of his very own Marvel television show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. It’s been a long road for the character, having gone up against the Norse God Loki in The Avengers, died, and been resurrected, but also one that has laid out a path for Gregg to explore, develop, and evolve him in new and interesting ways each time out.
WARNING: The rest of this article contains major spoilers from the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. If you aren’t caught up on the show, continue at your own risk!
Having recently had the opportunity to talk with Clark Gregg about his latest directorial effort, Trust Me, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask him about the role that took his career to a new level. Discussing the season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the direction he’s looking to take Director Coulson in the second season of the show, Gregg was quick to point out that there is a lot of stuff going on in the mind of the dedicated character that will be driving him forward in the future.
“I love where they took it,” Gregg said, complementing the show’s writers. “I love that they stripped him down and gave him his dream job at a moment when S.H.I.E.L.D. no longer existed. He’s the President of the United States of nothing right now. He’s been told the reason he was saved was because of a project designed to save Avengers, so on the one hand that’s a ridiculous honor from Director Fury. But it’s just a huge responsibility that he’s basically been given. ‘This thing you’ve dedicated your life to, it was rotten to the core. Here’s a mystery cube, and start to rebuild it, and P.S. you’re pumping with alien blood, don’t really know the ramifications. Good luck!’”
That alien blood will certainly be playing a key role in the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as indicated by the final moments of the show’s first finale, where Coulson is seen carving strange alien writing into a basement wall. Curious as any viewer, I asked Gregg about it, and while he was light on the details, he suggested that Coulson isn’t fully aware of what he’s doing. As for whether or not the alien DNA is Kree – an alien species that will be introduced by name in James Gunn’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy - Gregg only gave me a half confirmation. Talking about the alien that Coulson found while searching for a way to bring Skye back to life in the episode “T.A.H.I.T.I.” Gregg said,
”It looks like [a Kree] to me, but I haven’t heard it confirmed. All I can do is be a fellow fan boy at this point.”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was renewed for a second season earlier this month, and will be back on the ABC Tuesday lineup next year – albeit an hour later at 9:00pm EST/PST.