- "Ms. Foster I'm agent Coulson with S.H.I.E.L.D."
Agent Phillip "Phil" Coulson is an espionage agent working for S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson is an original creation who is not based on a character in the Marvel Comics universe. Phil Coulson is portrayed by Clark Gregg.
Upon arriving in the deserts of New Mexico, Agent Coulson along with a unit of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents set up a perimeter and a base of operations around the crater site containing Mjolnir.
Coulson then gathered all of Jane Foster and her scientific team's research that was related to the hammer. When Thor attempted to reclaim Mjolnir by infiltrating the base and managed to single-handedly take out a dozen S.H.I.E.L.D. agents with various fighting styles. Coulson observed from a distance before asking Clint Barton to prepare to take action if necessary. After Thor failed to remove Mjolnir, Coulson interrogated him about his identity and training, believing him to be a warrior of some type despite Thor refusing to answer his questions. Thor's interrogation was interrupted when Erik Selvig appeared and informed Coulson that Thor is actually Donald Blake a member of his scientific staff. An agent confirmed it by running a background check in the computer database and turns up a falsified document created by Jane of Thor assuming the identity of Dr. Donald Blake. Coulson went along with the charade but assigned agents to follow them believing they knew more than they were letting on.
When an agent discovered the coordinates of another potential crater site that appeared to having an exact signature match to Mjolnir, Agent Coulson and a unit of agents went to investigate and find The Destroyer armor. One agent asked Coulson if the armor belonged to Tony Stark. Coulson replied that Stark doesn't tell him anything; he tried to address the armor but it attacked them.
Coulson managed to survive the attack from The Destroyer and watched as Thor regained his powers. Coulson confronted Thor who offered his services in protecting Earth under the sole condition that Coulson returned all of Jane's research and equipment. Coulson agreed to Thor's terms and requested that they be debriefed before Thor flew upwards with Jane in his arms.
- "So that's what it does."
- ―Phil Coulson
When a threat to the world required the formation of a team of Super Heroes to defeat it, Coulson took on the task of assembling Nick Fury's Avengers as just another day at the office.
He managed to convince Tony Stark to join the team, with the help of Pepper Potts, whom he befriended during his assignment to Stark. Back on the Helicarrier, Coulson was more than happy to meet his all-time hero, Captain America, who had joined the Avengers Initiative on Fury's invitation. Coulson asked Rogers to sign some vintage collectible sticker cards he'd gathered in around two years, stressing the fact that Rogers had always been a model for him.
After the team's first mission, Coulson told Fury that the team was not prepared to face the common menace, and that they needed to be motivated some way. Stark managed to capture Loki and bring him to the S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarrier, when a brainwashed Clint Barton attacked and Loki was able to break free. Coulson reached Loki's prison, only to find the villain out of his cage, and Thor trapped in his place. The agent threatened Loki with a weapon, Coulson's Revenge, created from The Destroyer's body, but the Asgardian teleported and stabbed him through his back by using his staff. Laying on the floor, Coulson was powerless to prevent Thor's expulsion from the Helicarrier, but managed to land a blow on Loki with the Revenge. Later, when the battle was over and lost, Fury reached Coulson just in time to hear his last words. As he died, Phil suggested Fury used his death to motivate the Avengers into working together as a team.
Coulson's death had a large effect on the team who became saddened or enraged in some way but Phil's death would be the final motivator for the Avengers founding. Later Tony Stark acknowlages his friendship with Phil while confronting Loki stating that one person he pissed off "His name was Phil".
- In the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Agent Coulson was generally depicted as a supporting character of the protagonists and used to represent S.H.I.E.L.D.'s presence in the plots of the films, to the point that Clark Gregg has described Coulson as "the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent". However, in the "Marvel One-Shots", Coulson is given "a chance to stand in his own spotlight for once", when the character is put in a position where there is an imminent threat and no superheroes around. The decision to give more focus to Coulson was "a natural" for "Marvel One-Shot" co-producer Brad Winderbaum.
- Gregg has stated, "I think of Agent Coulson, after all these years, as a guy with a full life. I think every day he's somewhere doing something for S.H.I.E.L.D., and yet I don't always know what that is... There's always a different twist. In this one he gets to show more of his wisecracking wit, and in this one he's a little bit more of a badass."
- Despite Coulson being called "the most recognizable face in the Marvel Comics movie universe", he was depicted as an "everyman" in a universe full of superheroes – "the glue that binds" the characters together. In Thor, Coulson complains that Tony Stark "never tells [him] anything", while in The Avengers, Stark shows his disdain for G-Men by insisting that Coulson's first name is "Agent" rather than "Phil". In an interview with WNBC, Gregg explained his portrayal of the character as 'just a guy grumbling about his job "He's the guy who's tasked - a very disciplined guy in my opinion who possesses secrets that would turn your hair white - but at the same time he's tasked with handling these kind of diva superheroes, you know? "Oh, really, Asgard? Dude, just get in the car."
Friends and Allies
- Steve Rogers/Captain America - Ally and Heroic idol
- Tony Stark/Iron Man - Ally and friend.
- Virginia Potts - Ally and friend
- Nick Fury - S.H.I.E.L.D. Director
- Black Widow - S.H.I.E.L.D. Ally and subordinate
- Thor - Ally
- Hawkeye - S.H.I.E.L.D. subordinate
- Maria Hill - S.H.I.E.L.D. Ally
- Jasper Sitwell - S.H.I.E.L.D. Ally
- Erik Selvig - Acquaintance who picked Thor up from Coulson's base, Coulson presumably recommended Selvig meet with Nick Fury to discuss the Cosmic Cube.