Pretty much everyone is coming back for Avengers: Age of Ultron (including War Machine, as we found out recently). That is, everyone except for one SHIELD agent in particular.
Phil Coulson appeared in almost every single Phase One film, only to be completely absent from Phase Two after his untimely “death” in The Avengers. He’s been plenty busy on Agents of SHIELD in the meantime, but if you were hoping that next week would be Coulson’s triumphant return to movies, that aint happening.
Why was Coulson left out?
As it turns out, Joss Whedon is none too happy that Coulson got brought back for the TV show. That apparently wasn’t his decision (despite his heavy involvement in SHIELD‘s development), and he feels like it may have taken the dramatic heft out of the character’s death in The Avengers.
Speaking to Mental Floss, Whedon said:
The Coulson thing was, I think, a little anomalous just because that really came from the television division, which is sort of considered to be its own subsection of the Marvel universe. As far as the fiction of the movies, Coulson is dead.
But I have to say, watching the first one with my kids—I had not watched the first one since it came out—and then watching it with my kids and watching Coulson die but [thinking], “Yeah, but I know that he kind of isn’t,” it did take some of the punch out of it for me. Of course, I spent a lot of time making sure he didn’t. And at the time it seemed inoffensive, as long as it wasn’t referenced in the second movie, which it isn’t.
With Age of Ultron being Whedon’s last Marvel movie, it’s no surprise then that he chose not to bring Coulson back.
That being said, maybe it’s better he wasn’t invited, because Whedon is also making Age of Ultron sound pretty detrimental to a character’s health…
Is someone going to die?
It sure sounds like it! Whedon went on to explain that it feels “disingenuous” to stage a big battle without having some casualties; and with Ultron bringing the Avengers their biggest fight yet… Well, anyone without a big movie coming up might not be particularly safe.
There’s a thing where you can do that so many times and there’s nothing at stake. But it’s difficult because you’re living in franchise world—not just Marvel, but in most big films—where you can’t kill anyone, or anybody significant. And now I find myself with a huge crew of people and, although I’m not as bloodthirsty as some people like to pretend, I think it’s disingenuous to say we’re going to fight this great battle, but there’s not going to be any loss. So my feeling in these situations with Marvel is that if somebody has to be placed on the altar and sacrificed, I’ll let you guys decide if they stay there.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is out on May 1.