Alas, poor Coulson — we knew him well.
"Avengers" director Joss Whedon is known for killing off fan-favorite characters to heighten the stakes of his stories — we're still pouring one out for Serenity flyboy Wash all these years later. In the Marvel superhero flick, it wasn't one of Earth's mightiest heroes who bit the bullet, but the much beloved S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson who lost his life at the hands of Asgardian bad boy Loki.
Of course, this is a comic book property we're talking about, and in comics, no one stays dead for long. That idea has kept Coulson fans feeling optimistic about the possible return of actor Clark Gregg to the Marvel movie universe at some point down the line, with his resurrection as popular character Vision the current leading theory.
"Vision is cool," he said. "But I would hate to be any AI life form. If I got to come back, I would need to still be somebody who could wisecrack, because my favorite part of the job was that if anybody was going to tease anybody about their diva superhero outfit or whatever, it would be me."
Indeed, while Gregg has "seen a lot of theories" about Coulson's return — "I love what people are doing with that," he said — he's just as happy to let his character rest in peace.
"I really love what Joss did with Agent Coulson in 'The Avengers,' " he said. "It seems like an idea that was in the cards, not only from Joss but from Marvel, in that you needed to ground the movie in some real emotion and stakes. I loved playing that guy, and I'll miss playing him, but I was glad to have that job."
Coulson's fate will remain a hotly debated topic for many weeks to come, we're sure. But even if the hard-nosed S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is gone for good, that doesn't mean Gregg can't visit the set of "Avengers 2," right?
"That might be hard. I might be sad," he said. Then again ...
"I guess I would [visit the set] if I was dressed up as a sentient android," he teased.