Here’s a spoiler for “Avengers: Age of Ultron”: Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is not in it. Neither are his team of intrepid SHIELD agents who make up the cast of “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” and according to director Joss Whedon, they never were going to be.
Buzzfeed spoke to Whedon for a big feature on the director tied to “Age of Ultron,” but talk inevitably shifted to the Marvel TV series which he co-created. Though Whedon killed off Coulson in the first “Avengers” movie, he also had an instrumental hand in bringing him back to life. Sadly for fans of the series, Whedon never had plans to inform the Avengers that their dearly departed friend is actually not so departed.
“As far as I’m concerned, in this movie, Coulson’s dead,” he tells Buzzfeed. “If you come back in the sequel and say Coulson’s alive, it’s like putting f***ing John Gielgud in the sequel to ‘Arthur.’ It mattered that he’s gone. It’s a different world now. And you have to run with that.”
Apparently Whedon’s relationship with “Agents of SHIELD” has been complicated since his early days being a part of it. Though he helped create the premise, it sounds like he also planned on showrunning the series along with his brother Jed Whedon and sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen. The big problem? Marvel wanted him for movies, not TV, so his involvement was severely limited.
“They didn’t actually want me to make it,” he explains. “It’s like, ‘Uh, Joss, we really wanted you to do [‘Age of Ultron’]. Instead you created a TV show, you moron.’ ‘I thought you wanted me to!’ ‘No, we just wanted you to make a movie.’ ‘Oh. My bad.’ … It went from being absolutely 100 percent the driving force and totally hands-on to ‘That sounds great, Jed! You should do that!'”
With Whedon stepping away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe once his commitment to “Age of Ultron” is over, things could change for “Agents of SHIELD,” Coulson, the Avengers and the MCU as a whole. Going into Phase 3 it’s Joe and Anthony Russo who will be running the “Avengers” movies, with the two-part of “Infinity War.” Maybe they will have different ideas than Whedon about Coulson’s involvement in the Avengers’ business and whether he should come back into the movies.
Until that day maybe comes, though, rest easy knowing Whedon has a very valid reason for not reuniting “Agents of SHIELD’s” hero with his formed avenging allies. At least fans will always have this: