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Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Clark Gregg Talks Agent Coulson's Resurrection

The Avengers are coming to primetime — sort of. Executive producer Joss Whedon, Marvel, and Disney all have a hand in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Whedon talked about how much he's been trusted to bring the superhero brand to TV when he came to the Summer TCA. One of the stars of the films — Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) — is a part of the series, and he addressed the big question of how he was brought back to life for the show, since, you know, his character died. We also heard from another cast member about how the agency is shaping her up.

  • On how much crossover between The Avengers and the new TV show we might see, Whedon said, "There will be as much as we can allow," and are still working it out. Whedon stressed that the show does not exist solely to promote the movies, so any crossover will be the result of a "fun opportunity," but "we don't just want to be an Easter egg farm." Like most spinoffs, this one is intended to stand alone. Whedon said the show "has to work for people who aren't going to see those movies and haven't seen them before."
  • Agent Coulson appears in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — but dies in The Avengers, a fact which is cleared up in the pilot by mentioning that his death was faked. Gregg expanded on how he got resurrected: "My next-to-last day on The Avengers involved this certain Asgardian fellow impaling me, quite convincingly. I was surprised how emotional it was to give up the character . . . and the long-term job." Gregg said he made jokes about rewrites, but "it was really clear that I was dead." Then four or five months after The Avengers, he said he got a call from Whedon, in which he explained the show to him — and what Coulson doesn't know. "I hung up the phone very deeply on board," Gregg said.
  • Marvel is protective of its properties, but Whedon called his experience working with them "extraordinary." He said, "We've gotten trust, which is different than freedom . . . ABC and Marvel have been very active in making sure the show is what they want for their company and their network and their audiences, and at the same time, they're very supportive of the vision that we first laid out. The most important thing is that we are all trying to make the same show."
  • Ming-Na Wen's character Melinda May is a ninja — "I don't like to brag about it, though," she joked, but she was more than happy to show off her arms, a result of her hard work. "I'm in the best shape of my life," she said of the training. "I'm really enjoying it, surprisingly, because I normally don't like working out." She clarified her attitude: "I don't like to work out; I do like kicking ass, though."
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