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Spoiler alert if you haven't gotten around to seeing The Avengers yet. (And might we recommend that you do!).
The thing about the Whedonverse is, yes, investing in any of Joss Whedon's stories runs a pretty high risk of seeing one or more of our favorite characters killed off. The stakes (heh) are always high in that regard. But on the bright side, there's also always the chance that they could be brought back somehow. It's not guaranteed and there's really no predicting it, but it does happen sometimes. The Whedonverse collided with the Marvelverse this year with the feature film The Avengers, which Whedon directed, and it's happening again with the ABC pilot Whedon has in development that will focus on S.H.I.E.L.D. News from New York Comic Con is that Agent Phil Coulson will be back for the pilot.
TVLine shared the news this weekend, stating that Clark Gregg will appear in Joss Whedon's Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, returning to his role as Phil Coulson, the dedicated S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who appeared in the Iron Man movies and Thor, and played a crucial role in The Avengers. Coulson's death in the film was the catalyst to the Avengers putting aside their differences and fighting together, and from a viewer's standpoint, it heightened the emotional factor a few notches, making us eager to see the Avengers take Loki down.
If Coulson's dead, how can he be back for S.H.I.E.L.D.? That isn't specified, but as TVLine notes, Whedon has said the pilot will be "autonomous" from the recent Marvel movies. So maybe in this version of the story, Coulson never died. Or maybe we're dealing with a prequel-time period (some area before the movies or between The Avengers and the ones that came before it.) Regardless, this is good news. Coulson seems like the perfect character to tie this pilot a little more firmly to the movies, and Gregg is a great addition (or start to?) the cast of this highly anticipated pilot.