Hero of the Year

Agent Phil Coulson

shield marvel avengers comicsRemember what you thought of Agent Coulson in the first Iron Man? We were so overwhelmed with all the cool parts of this movie that this character didn’t pop on his own. That’s not to say he wasn’t memorable, he was just over shadowed by the idea that S.H.I.E.L.D made it’s movie debut. He just represented what S.H.I.E.L.D. agents could be but he didn’t exactly define himself as the character we would come to know until his next appearance. Iron Man 2 better defined Phil and let you see him as capable as well as good humored. His later and more prominent appearance in Thor and a few short films (available on DVDs) made us really fall for this character.

movie shield agentWhat makes Phil the breakout character of 2012 was his appearance in the Avengers movie this year. How does a once nameless agent in a suit have the largest emotional impact in a movie starring Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and The Hulk? The answer is humanity. Phil is just like us. He’s an enthusiastic fanboy with a mancrush on Captain America. That aspect of his humanity gets us to really root for him but it’s his bravery that makes him a hero.

Phil is totally incorruptible making him the only one to stand against Loki. Loki’s plan physiologically takes down every threat he expected had a chance to stop him but he totally underestimated Phil. Coulson almost takes down a god one on one but Loki gets in a killing blow. As he is dieing, he tells Loki that he is fated to fail because he “lacks conviction”. This act of defiance, even at his end, is the most powerful moment in the film. In a movie filled with CGI, explosions, and a seemingly random alien invasion, Phil Coulson was the much needed human element in a movie almost devoid of anything you can emotionally connect with.

shield marvel avengers comicsClark Gregg brings so much to this role. His smile is disarming and he exudes patience and intelligence. He never comes off smug, cynical, or negative. His performance is all heart. Gregg can also pull off the role of an action hero on top of his emotional performance. I believe that a lesser actor would not have secured another appearance of this character after his initial role.

shield agent avengers stan leeA tribute to this character is the response fans have had since his movie death this summer. In a rare move, this movie universe character has come over to the comic book universe in the Battle Scars mini-series. He will premiere as a member of the Secret Avengers Marvel Now relaunch less than a year after his debut. This would be impressive enough but he has a very big role in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon on Disney XD. Proving that this character is more than a plot device, he works in comics, cartoon, and movies surrounded by a three very different casts. That is a really significant test for a character that leaves him with only once place to go…live action TV! The announcement that Clark Gregg will be reprising his role in the upcoming ABC show for S.H.I.E.L.D.

From an unknown agent to the lynchpin to the formation of The Avengers – Here’s to the most human hero in the Marvel Universe: Phil Coulson!


Short Box co-founder, Nick, is married to Sarah and their 1st child is on the way,
Nick uses terms like Comic Book Historian and Geekologist to describe himself but...those aren't real things...right?
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