Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) has a habit of dying: First in film Marvel’s The Avengers, and more recently at the end of season 5 of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But this is Marvel, after all, and Gregg has already appeared in the ABC series’ season 6 trailer. And, either way, you’ll get to see Coulson again in March 8 film release Captain Marvel.
“He might be a little bit of a rookie new guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Gregg told Rotten Tomatoes at ABC’s party at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour on Tuesday. “He might have a man-crush on Nick Fury that makes his Chris Evans one look feeble.”
Set in the ’90s, Captain Marvel tells the story of how Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) got recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, pictured above). Coulson would be just beginning his S.H.I.E.L.D. career back then.
Gregg began his Marvel career as the character in 2008’s Iron Man. Eleven years of Marvel movies and TV have passed since then, and Coulson has experienced numerous twists and turns in his S.H.I.E.L.D. career.
Captain Marvel takes place decades earlier, which required applying the same digital de-aging technology that made Michael Douglas, Kurt Russell, and Robert Downey, Jr. younger in the movies. This is pre–eye patch for Fury, so Jackson gets the treatment, too.
“Sadly it was digital,” Gregg said. “I really wish they would follow me around and do that. From the few shots I’ve seen — I haven’t seen much yet — I’m like Wow, I don’t think I ever looked quite that good. It was fun to be in a Blockbuster [Video store]. It was fun to see some MTV videos, some exciting ’90s stuff.”
Early images from Captain Marvel have revealed the Kree, which has led some to suggest the Kree–Skrull war from the comics might be coming either in Captain Marvel or a subsequent adventure.
The Kree have been featured on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so Captain Marvel could portray Coulson’s first contact with Kree.
“It could be,” Gregg said. “It could be. I think fans of the show will have an awfully good time watching Captain Marvel. I think they’ll see some origin stuff.”
Gregg was doing double-duty while filming Captain Marvel and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6, but team Marvel was good at working out his schedule.
“Luckily it’s all under the giant powerful Marvel umbrella so the coordination was really good,” Gregg said. “I was shooting some of Captain Marvel during our season, some after. Some quite recently.”
We won’t see Gregg’s return to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. until this summer, but Gregg has been teasing his new character. He confirmed to Rotten Tomatoes that he will have a new name.
“I do have a new costume and a new name apparently,” Gregg said. “They will call me something else.”
Gregg knows his new character name. His costars know it, too, but no one is telling.
“I do, yes. Really, the only person who doesn’t know is you,” he teased.
The season premiere will see Gregg direct his second episode of the series. Like all Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season premieres, it resets everything.
“They were kind enough to give me the first episode of this season which is huge, the huge return they always do which is tear everything down to the studs and start over basically,” Gregg said. “People are grieving the loss of Phil Coulson. There’s mysterious non human entities suddenly manifesting on Earth so the Earth crew has to deal with that. Meanwhile, the team’s divided by a whole nother group combing the galaxy for the frozen time traveling iteration of Fitz.”
Fitz (Ian De Caestecker) was another casualty of season 5. Fortunately, the way time travel works means there is an earlier version of Fitz out there somewhere. Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) is determined to bring him back.
“Simmons is not really grieving for Fitz, because she is convinced that she will find him,” Henstridge said. “So we have a little team doing that and then a team back on Earth too.”
Daisy (Chloe Bennet) is helping Simmons and the duo are traveling the galaxy.
“It’s been a fun season for Simmons and Daisy, because we got to be partners in crime a little bit on our journey trying to find Fitz,” Bennet said.
Gregg added: “Daisy’s got her back and they are going to every different kind of species and culture and planet in the galaxy, meeting the species there. And then Daisy’s going to kick their ass until they give up Fitz.”
Henstridge also said that the lighter side of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would return after a few seasons of dark drama.
“It’s also funny this season,” Henstridge said. “There are some episodes that are really funny that we haven’t been able to do comedy for quite a while. It’s been very serious.”
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been off the air since Avengers: Infinity War opened. The subsequent film Ant Man and the Wasp addressed Thanos’s snap wiping out 50 percent of the universe (at least in its closing moments). Will Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. be affected by the snap?
“I don’t know how that fits into our timeline,” Gregg said. “That’s not something we’re allowed to discuss. If we even say ‘snap,’ we might vanish.”
Henry Simmons did not attend the ABC party, but Gregg also wanted to shout out his character, Mack, becoming director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
“One of the other storylines that I find really compelling has to do with Mack, played by Henry Simmons, who has really had a slow journey into the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Gregg said. “He really puts his ass on the line when he’s there, but I think at times he’s wanted to be out. Now that he’s the Director, watching just the gravity with which he takes that job and how difficult it is on his relationship with Yo-Yo and how dedicated he is to finding a way to pull off what this team needs to pull off, he does an amazing job.”