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When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. concluded its fifth season on ABC, all signs pointed toward the end of the Coulson era as the longtime leader was dying of his illness. The first trailer for Season 6 reveals Clark Gregg back, but he didn’t seem to be playing the Coulson fans came to know and love. Well, Gregg has now settled the question of whether he would be playing original Coulson or not, and the answer is a definitive no. Here’s what Gregg had to say:
The Coulson role and persona, though always evolving and always having new parts of him revealed to me by our writers, became a very familiar skin in a way. To change all that and suddenly find myself playing this other very mysterious person who is not Phil Coulson, and the mystery of who that person is and why he looks like that is something that they’ve done groundbreaking, wild stuff with that I’m really lucky to play.
So there we have it! According to his comments to Marvel, Clark Gregg will be playing this “other very mysterious person,” and that person will not be Phil Coulson. Alas, the only new footage we may ever get of original Coulson may be via flashback, hologram, or MCU projects set in the past, such as Captain Marvel. Now, the big question is who this new character is.
May’s words in the trailer indicate that she watched Coulson in his final days and presumably was by his side when he died, so it would be difficult for S.H.I.E.L.D. to say that this new character is original Coulson with just a mind wipe or something. Coulson certainly never mentioned having a twin brother.
Also, the trailer has the newcomer saying “Never heard of it” when asked if he’s from S.H.I.E.L.D. Surely somebody from the MCU’s version of Earth would have at least heard of S.H.I.E.L.D. at some point.
The agency was outed to the world after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (which forced S.H.I.E.L.D. to reinvent itself after less than one full season), and it has been a public agency in years since. Could Clark Gregg’s new character be from another Earth, one on which S.H.I.E.L.D. never came together, or at least was never outed?
While I would certainly be on board with S.H.I.E.L.D. introducing another Earth (especially if it means the show establishing itself farther from the larger MCU), there are other possibilities for why this new character looks exactly like Coulson. Could this person be a Skrull, with the stage set in Captain Marvel? The movie will be released before S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 premieres.
Or could he be a robot of some sort? S.H.I.E.L.D. is no stranger to introducing artificial intelligence creations that look exactly like the main characters. What about a clone, with DNA taken while Coulson was the subject of T.A.H.I.T.I.? The possibilities are endless. Fans will certainly have plenty of time to speculate about them. S.H.I.E.L.D. won’t be back with the Season 6 premiere until this summer.
The good news is that there are plenty of Marvel projects in the works on top of the new season of S.H.I.E.L.D. On the big screen, we have Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home on top of Captain Marvel, and plenty happening on the small screen as well. S.H.I.E.L.D. itself has already scored a renewal for Season 7 as well.