So, Coulson lives. If you pause long enough to stop doing your happy dance (not an easy feat, we know), then the natural follow-up question is… well, how?
We have a few theories for how everyone's favorite Phil can return to the land of the living for Marvel's "S.H.I.E.L.D." television series. Check them out below!
It's A Prequel
One way for "S.H.I.E.L.D." to have its cake and eat it too is to set the series before "Avengers" takes place — but prequels don't always turn out so well, especially when we already know the end point. That feels like it would be a step backwards for everybody involved.
Life Model Decoy
The Coulson killed in "Avengers" was a life model decoy after all. That seems… sort of lame, honestly. Maybe instead, the Coulson on the "S.H.I.E.L.D." television series is a LMD with more complicated feelings and a capacity to learn new information. Kind of like Data with the emotion chip. Less lame, and kind of interesting in fact, but we have a feeling the Phil we're going to see will be of the flesh-and-blood variety.
It wouldn't be the first time, right? It would make Nick's decision to smear blood on Coulson's prized card collection a little less creepy. (But only just a little.) Perhaps Coulson never died at all and was merely injured; Fury just needed him to sit out to give the Avengers a tragedy to rally around. This one also feels a little bit cheap, but if it brings Samuel L. Jackson in as a special guest star for the "S.H.I.E.L.D." pilot, we're all for it.
Resurrection Rescue Mission
What is it they say about death in comics again? Uncle Ben aside, very few characters in comics actually stay six feet under for long. Given how faithful the Marvel Cinematic Universe is to the comic books, would it be too much of a stretch for Coulson to come back to life? Maybe that's even the plot of the first episode of "S.H.I.E.L.D.," with the recruits we've already heard about teaming together to save Coulson from the great beyond. That could make for one hell of a pilot, even if it stretches the limits of the MCU's plausibility just a touch.
Something Completely Awesome And Unforeseen
Basically, we're going to shut up right now and wait. Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige haven't let us down yet; we're sure they have a very exciting way of bringing Coulson back into the fold, and it's best not to think about it too much until we know more. Besides, at its most basic of levels, we're looking at a future where Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson kicks ass and takes names on his own weekly television series. There is nothing about that that sucks.
How do you see Coulson returning to life? Lay out your theories in the comments section or on Twitter!