It’s a good time to be Marvel. Between all the hit movies, beloved Netflix shows and upcoming films, they are also celebrating the March 8 return of “Agents of SHIELD,” a fascinating beast of a show that exists in the cracks between all those elements.
Of course, with “SHIELD” in those cracks, Agent Coulson gets to be the glue. Sitting down for an exclusive chat with Zap2it, the affable actor who was eager to tell us why it’s also a good time to be Clark Gregg.
“I just show up and deal with all the monsters,” Gregg says of the gig, now on the back half of Season 3 and recently renewed for more.
“Coulson is back from the planet, having elected — impulsively or not — to put an end to the human known as Grant Ward, as witnessed by Leo Fitz,” Gregg says of where the new episodes begin. “They now have that awareness between them. Coulson is pretty haunted by this decision. I wouldn’t say he regrets it, but he feels haunted by it.”
According to Gregg, the death of Ward changes Coulson quite a bit. “That concern of having crossed the line that people who are responsible for the law and justice should never cross, it is going to haunt him going forward.”
His actions also open the door for one of those aforementioned monsters. “Although he doesn’t know it and neither does Fitz, that act also left a body on the planet for this terrifying creature, this world-munching creature that may have been the genesis of HYDRA, even the HYDRA logo,” Gregg says of the show’s current big bad baddie.
“It has grabbed the ridiculously-handsome corpse of Grant Ward, and managed to find a way back to our world. And that, I think, will be the biggest dilemma we face.”
It’s also a dilemma that, once upon a time, Gregg never could have imagined.
When the actor first played Phil Coulson in 2008’s “Iron Man,” the character was a fairly standard-issue cloak-and-dagger-type with only a few lines of dialogue. Eight years later, Gregg has had dozens upon dozens of hours on-screen to give complexity to the character and create layers never originally intended.
“He’s made four movies, seventy episodes,” Gregg says of Coulson with pride. “It was a smaller character in ‘Iron Man’ that they just kept adding scenes for, as they found a use in him. I was happy then, I loved Iron Man as a kid and I loved those actors, I was thrilled to be a part of that.”
“It’s become an incredible journey and the gift that keeps on giving,” Gregg says. “That’s a ludicrous understatement at this point.”
Now, in the upcoming episodes of Season 3, Coulson’s journey will continue to gain in complexity.
“It’s been a dark journey at times, and it’s been great,” he says. “It’s a great direction to take the character. He was often the comic relief in the movies — when he wasn’t being stabbed — yet always a true believer in the cause.”
“I sometimes wonder whether he would have chosen to be the Director of SHIELD, I think he was pretty happy as a field agent,” Gregg says of how he sees the character.
“But that wasn’t a choice; that was something Nick Fury needed him to do. So he’s taken that job on and used all his particular strengths to succeed at that job in a world that has been changing and evolving very rapidly in ways that are playing out on our show … and I suspect that some of those same dilemmas will play out in ‘Captain America: Civil War‘ when that comes out.”
Once again, it seems, Phil Coulson is playing the glue.
“We’re dealing with a thing on our show which has that same division, between people who are enhanced, inhuman and those who aren’t — some of whom are our friends, some our enemies — and the complexity of us versus them,” he says of the similar paths that Marvel fans will see between the plotlines. “I think some of the same changes taking place in the [SHIELD] world will also be played out on the cinematic stage.”