Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Who is Agent Coulson?


By Lauren Petterson (@Pixidustdprops)

I finally had some time to catch up with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. again this week. After seeing the direction the show is going one thing still irks me. Who is Agent Coulson? What happened to him? Was he really that different before we were introduced to his character? Every episode I keep thinking they will reveal something, even if it’s tiny, about who he was and what happened after he took and Asgardian spear to the heart. I just keep getting more questions.

If you are just meeting up with Phil Coulson through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. you probably get some inkling that he’s not who he once was. Clearly something traumatic happened to him to make him this way. However, you get a pretty good sense of the Agent Coulson those who have met him through various Marvel movies, including the Avengers, have come to know. He’s a guy who takes his job seriously, is mostly business but likes to have fun, and is sarcastically funny. He’s the guy who won’t stop until a solution is reached. Also, he has a generally fantastic judge of character. This is the Phil Coulson we have all come to know and love. The one we were fairly upset to see “die” at the end of the Avengers.

However, throughout this first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. we get the sense that he wasn’t always the Agent Coulson we loved. In the second episode we heard that he spent a lot of time in the field alongside Agent Camilla Reyes. We learn that he likes to collect old things that have meaning. Something that leads me to believe there are memories or secrets hiding within those things. We also learn that he had a protégé who he pushed too hard. At the end of that episode, Akela, his protégé asks what S.H.I.E.L.D. did to Coulson hinting that he is not the same person that she knew. That leads me to believe he was a super serious Agent in the past. It puts together why he can connect so well with his But we still don’t have answers. All we know is that he is not who he once was. So who is he?

Who is Agent Phil Coulson really? Is he quiet, funny, but serious Coulson? Is he super-serious-push-too-hard Coulson? Was he once a really serious, really intense agent that saw too much? Did the Battle of New York really mess him up that badly (I mean he did die)? What happened between the Battle of New York and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? Where is Tahiti and does it stand for something?

I’m just going to say that Agent Coulson is a Life Model Decoy and he has been that way since before that Battle of New York, but I don’t know why.

What are your thoughts? Who do you think Agent Coulson really is?


  1. MIROctober 25th, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I find the LMD theory intriguing on many levels because it explains some of the outlying questions about Coulson. Like his passionate interest in all things from the WWII era, but I think the LMD theory is too easy a solve for this particular equation. In the Marvel Universe nothing is as it seems, and by now we fans should know to expect the unexpected. I think the simplest answer to the Coulson mystery is may well be the obvious one. Loki. Meaning… You broke him, now fix him or you can’t go home to see Mommy. Even with Thor being a member of the Avengers, it seemed highly unusual for Nick Fury to just send him home after the damage he caused, without getting something in return. Another theory is Coulson could have been associated with Hydra in some way during WWII, (maybe as a S.H.I.E.L.D Agent). We know Red Skull was big on experimenting with ways to lengthen his life/make himself immortal. Furthermore, the Reich loved to call itself the 1000 year army, so who knows. Whatever the ultimate answer to the Coulson mystery is, I’m confident it will set the fandom ablaze and produce more questions.

  2. James WhiteOctober 26th, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    You think Coulson was already a LMD before the Battle of New York? I would guess that he is one now for sure, but only after New York. This seems to be inferred to by a lot of the conversations that people have had in the show about Coulson, talking about how much he has changed, how he didn’t know, how he died, etc,

    On the other hand, I don’t know how the Earth-199999 continuity (that the movies and show occur in) relates to the continuity that the comic book events like Civil War and Dark Reign occurred in. If there is any relationship, there was a point in that comic book continuity where just about everyone was or had a LMD, it is very possible that Coulson has been a machine for a long time.

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