"I'm in the spy business your highness, it's my business to find out things that nobody else wants me to know, and to tell you things you're not supposed to know. Life's complicated like that."Not much has been disclosed about the past history of Agent Phillip J. Coulson, even his age has never really been discussed. Coulson has been a member of SHIELD since at least the mid-90s, as he was seen as an instructor at the SHIELD Academy in 1999 and was present during the initial training of SHIELD agents Clint Barton, Barbara Morse and Jasper Sitwell. What is known for certain is that SHIELD is his life, and he has been high up in the organization for many years.
Coulson was the agent initially assigned to debrief Tony Stark following his escape from the Ten Rings in Gulmira. However Stark kept putting off the meeting, citing more important concerns. Coulson eventually aided Pepper Potts in trying to apprehend Obadiah Stane, and witnessed the eventual battle between Stane and Stark. He fashioned the alibi for Tony Stark (that Stark promptly dismissed) before being reassigned and letting Nick Fury handle the debriefing personally. Coulson then told General Thunderbolt Ross that he was being taken off the hunt for the Hulk, offering the explanation that they are "better suited to this sort of thing." In reality, he was actually assigning Romanoff to tale Banner in India, trying to keep Ross off of the Hulk's trail.
Coulson would also be temporarily assigned to Stark once more to keep him on task when trying to find a cure for his palladium poisoning. However this assignment was short-lived, as he was then assigned to the southwest region in New Mexico. There, he found the mystical hammer Mjolnir and set up a perimeter around the area, working with Barton and Sitwell to try and keep civilians away from the area. He also authorized the "borrowing" of the research of Jane Foster and Erik Selvig. He attempted to interrogate Thor (thinking that he was some kind of rogue operative) but got nowhere, eventually releasing Thor when Selvig vouched for him. He returned the research to Selvig and Foster shortly after the Destroyer armor was defeated byThor, who had his power restored to him.
Coulson would then travel to Greenland, being present for the discovery of the Valkyrie airship from World War II and the frozen body of Captain Steve Rogers. Coulson would accompany SHIELD director Nick Fury to recruit Rogers to join the Avengers Initiative while also recruiting Tony Stark for the same, following the arrival of Loki to Earth and the stealing of the Tesseract. Coulson fought bravely in the assault on the Helicarrier when Taskmaster and his group of super villains attacked to free Loki, even confronting the god of mischief himself. However Coulson was apparently killed by Loki shortly before the latter left with Taskmaster to begin the Chitauri invasion, with Coulson dying in front of Fury. However, it was later revealed that Coulson was not dead, but had been resuscitated somehow. Details on this "marvelous" resurrection have not yet been revealed.
Coulson's survival was kept secret from most people, even the new SHIELD director Thaddeus Ross was unaware of Coulson's return from the grave. Coulson would be the one to releive Ross of his command following his unilateral decision to turn the Vision over to the Mandarin. He then helped Tony Stark by sending Quinjets to confront the warlord and the dragon Fin Fang Foom over Beijing. Despite Stark's incredulousness at finding Coulson alive, the two struck up their friendship once more, as Coulson suggested that Stark be named the interim director of SHIELD for the time being.
Coulson also was assigned with the task of bringing Ulysses Klaue to justice for his role in the Ultron Incident in Sokovia. He confronted Klaue in Busan, South Korea, along with King T'Challa of Wakanda. Klaue was eventually captured by T'Challa and then turned over to Coulson's custody. After interrogating Klaue, Coulson was badly wounded in the jailbreak by Erik Stevens. He was taken to Wakanda for medical treatment, but shortly after he awoke he was whisked away by Shuri and Nakia, being told that Stevens (an ex-military man and unbeknownst to him the son of Prince N'jobu) had seized the throne of Wakanda. Coulson helped take the Heart-Shaped Herb to the Jabari tribe, ostensibly to grant M'Baku the powers of the Black Panther, though this mission was changed when it was revealed that T'Challa was still alive. During the Battle of the Vibranium Mound, Coulson holed up in Shuri's lab and used a remote piloting device to fly a Wakandan aircraft, taking out the weapons delivery ships before they could leave Wakanda and deliver their weapons around the world. Following the battle and the defeat of Killmonger, Coulson was present at the United Nations when T'Challa revealed Wakanda's technological advancements to the world, promising to keep the most advanced tech away from Tony Stark.
Powers & Abilities
- Master Marksman: It is stated that Agent Coulson is one of the best pure marksmen in all of SHIELD, with a variety of firearms.
- Advanced Combat Skills: It can be assumed that, like most SHIELD operatives, Coulson has received advanced hand-to-hand combat training. He is capable of fighting Taskmaster for a period of time, who is one of the best hand-to-hand fighters in the MCU.
- Deep-Cover Espionage Tactics: Having been trained at the SHIELD academy, Coulson possesses the same high level interrogation techniques and knack for duplicity that most SHIELD agents have, though he has never displayed them readily.
Blessed with a dry wit, Coulson is an unassuming opponent for most, and a dangerous one for anyone who takes him lightly. That being said, he possesses no special ability that would make him a great threat to super powered individuals, and possesses all the frailties of a normal human being. His resurrection, as revealed in Iron Man 4, has yet to be explained on camera, and may yet prove further weaknesses and/or abilities to be revealed.
Agent Coulson appears in the following films within the Earth-11584 continuity. In all cases, he is portrayed by actor Clark Gregg.