Phil Coulson


Real Name
Phil Coulson
First Appearance
Iron Man (2008)
Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Team Affliations
Base of Operations
Skills and Abilities
S.H.I.E.L.D. Training, Weapons Proficiency, Hand-to-Hand Combat Proficiency, Espionage Training, Tactics
Tools and Weapons
Guns, Night Night Guns

Agent Phil Coulson is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and later appeared in the Marvel Universe.

Agent Phil Coulson is played by Clark Gregg.

He served as Nick Fury's second in command for some of the Division's most important missions. One of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s most decorated operatives, Coulson was put in charge of surveillance and served as the primary operative in the Avengers. As of the finale of Season One, Fury at least considers Coulson the Director of the new version of S.H.I.E.L.D. which is now needed.

Origin[edit | edit source]

An esteemed S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Agent Coulson was ressurected following being slain in the line of duty and given command of his own special S.H.I.E.L.D. team.

Marvel Cinematic Universe[edit | edit source]

Biography[edit | edit source]

Not much has been revealed about Phil Coulson's childhood, though it is known he was a big fan of Captain America growing up. At some point he was recruited by SHIELD, where he received spy training and became one of SHIELD's most valuable agents.

During a press conference following Tony Stark's escape from the custody of the ten rings in Afghanistan, Coulson approached Pepper Potts to schedule a meeting with Stark. He later approached Stark himself at a benefit for the Firefighters' Family Fund to arrange a meeting, and Stark dismissively agreed; Coulson arrived at Stark Industries headquarters for the debriefing, but encountered Potts as she hurried from the building, having downloaded incriminating files that showed that Obadiah Stane had sold Stark Industries weapons to terrorist organizations as well as having arranged the abduction of Tony Stark by the Ten Rings. Coulson then accompanied Potts back to Stark Industries headquarters, but Stane escaped arrest by suiting up in his Iron Monger armor and battling Iron Man (Tony Stark). Following the explosion of the Arc Reactor, Coulson provided Stark with a prepared alibi that Stark promptly disregarded.

Six months later, following a drunken brawl between Stark and Lt. Col. James Rhodes (was War Machine but currently Iron Patriot) at Stark's mansion, Coulson was assigned by Fury to personally monitor Stark while the industrialist searched for a cure to his palladium poisoning. He later assisted Stark in the construction of a prismatic accelerator with which Stark synthesized a new element to power his Arc Reactor, and informed Stark that he had been reassigned to New Mexico by Fury.

Thor's arrival on Midgard[edit | edit source]

After S.H.I.E.L.D.'s scientific branch detected unusual electromagnetic activity in the vicinity of Puente Antiguo, Coulson was dispatched to the site of an impact crater. In transit, he stopped at a gas station and overpowered two robbers. At the crater site, he found a number of town locals trying unsuccessfully to pull a hammer from the earth. Coulson notified S.H.I.E.L.D., who cleared and secured the area for further investigation.

With the hammer secured, Coulson turned his attention to the surrounding area and discovered equipment which led him back to astrophysicist Jane Foster and her colleagues. He immediately confiscated the remainder of her equipment and research, and when Foster returned to her home to discover her possessions being hauled away, Coulson offered her a check as compensation.

He was later at the S.H.I.E.L.D. compound surrounding the hammer when alarms sounded to signal an intrusion, and he became concerned by a corresponding build-up of anomalous weather. He witnessed an unarmed intruder battering his way into the compound to reach the hammer, and instructed Agent Clint Barton (Hawkeye) not  to use lethal force against the man, instead watching as the man reached the hammer, struggled in an attempt to lift it, and crumpled in anguish. Coulson ordered the man captured, confronted him, pressed him for information on his background and apparent military training, and earned only limited answers in reply.

The next day, Coulson was approached by Erik Selvig, who spoke on behalf of the stranger and claimed the man's name was "Donald Blake". Coulson discovered inconsistencies in Selvig's claim, but released his detainee before ordering S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to follow him.

Coulson responded to another discovery in the New Mexico desert when he received a report of four strangely-dressed newcomers in Puente Antiguo. Before he could respond, he was confronted by a ten-foot-tall humanoid machine that appeared through a wind vortex in the desert. He challenged it on the basis that it appeared to be unregistered weapons technology, at which point it opened fire and scattered the assembled agents.

Coulson escaped serious injury from the encounter, but could do little more than watch as the Destroyer laid waste to Puente Antiguo. At that point, the hammer that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been guarding dislodged itself from its resting place as it was summoned by the stranger that Coulson had formerly detained; Coulson then witnessed the man defeat the machine, and approached him in the aftermath, pointing out that "Blake" had not been completely honest.

Thor told Coulson that their goals were the same, and that Coulson could therefore count on him as an ally if he returned Foster's equipment and notes. Coulson accepted and pointed out that Foster would need the equipment to continue her research. He then watched as Thor and his four friends left. 

Some time later, Coulson met with Agent Sitwell in a diner to discuss the Avengers Initiave. While Nick Fury's superiors had approved the Initiative, the Council wanted Emily Blonksy (now dubbed "The Abomination") recruited onto the team due to his military record and status as a war hero.

Since Blonsky was still being held by General Thaddeus Ross, the Council planned to blame all the destruction that Abomination had caused during his rampage Harlem on Bruce Banner (Hulk) in order to clear Blonsky's name and have him released. With Fury unable to outright refuse, Coulson proposed sending a patsy to meet with Ross in the hopes of sabotaging the meeting so that Ross would refuse to hand Blonsky over. Sitwell suggested sending the "Consultant," who turned out to be Tony Stark; Coulson opposed the idea, but eventually relented, resulting in a successful sabotage when Ross refused to release Blonsky into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, keeping him off the Avengers.

The Avengers[edit | edit source]

At some point following his time in New Mexico, Coulson began a long-distance relationship with a cellist who lived in Portland, Oregon. This relationship was known of and approved by 'Pepper' Potts, who considered Phil a friend, discernibly more so than Tony Stark.

Coulson was later assigned to the Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. facility where the Tesseract, a relic of unimaginable power, was being studied Selvig's team. When the object began releasing erratic power surges, Coulson led an evacuation of the facility shortly before the Tesseract activated and teleported Loki into the facility. Coulson, Fury, and Agent Maria Hill were unable to prevent Loki from stealing the Tesseract prior to the destruction of the facility.

Coulson witnessed the revival of the World War II-era hero Steve Roger (Captain America) before being tasked with recruiting Stark into the Avengers Initiative, delivering a dossier on the situation. He later escorted Rogers to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, awkwardly requesting an autograph; once aboard, he oversaw the task of moving Jane Foster to a safe location.

Following the capture of Loki in Stuttgart, Germany by Rogers and Stark, Coulson remained on board the carrier until rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Clint Barton (Hawkeye) launched a daring commando raid. During the ensuing skirmish, Coulson procured an experimental weapon and hurried to Loki's holding cell where he discovered Thor trapped in the cell and Loki freed. He held Loki at gunpoint, but the Asgardian created an illusory projection that enabled him to attack Coulson from behind, piercing him through the back with his sceptre.

Coulson managed to fire a single shot and sent Loki in flames out of the helicarrier. Fury found the mortally wounded agent, who apologized for letting Loki escape and informed the Director that he was "clocking out" (despite Fury's insistence that dying was "not an option"). Coulson assured Fury that he would not die in vain, claiming that "this was never going to work if they didn't have something to..." He died unceremoniously without completing his final sentence. Fury later informed Hill, Rogers, and Stark of Coulson's death, using it to inspire the Avengers to unite against their common enemy in the ensuing Battle of New York. 

Level 7[edit | edit source]

Despite the common belief that he had died, Coulson returned to active duty in September of 2013, assembling a team consisting of agents Melinda May and Grant Ward, biochemist Jemma Simmons and engineer Leo Fitz, and hacktivist Skye. Coulson and Maria Hill later explained to Agent Ward that Fury "faked Coulson's death to motivate the Avengers"; Coulson claimed that he "stopped breathing for about forty seconds," though Hill indicated that Coulson was clinically dead for just eight seconds before being revived. He then spent time recovering in "a grass shack in Tahiti," which he keeps describing as "a magical place"; the story of Coulson's survival, however, is almost certainly a fabrication. Later in the series, Coulson discovers he was actually dead for several days, and that Director Fury had "Moved Heaven and Earth" to bring Coulson back alive. Coulson was given fake memories of a luxurious island so that he would not remember the pain and suffering he had gone through to live again; due to the fact that it would have changed him into a man who had given up on living again. In "Nothing Personal", May shows Coulson a recording which indicates he was the agent in charge of operation T.A.H.I.T.I., designed to save a (hypothetical) mortally-wounded Avenger, and he himself wanted to close it down. In his resignation speech he informs Fury that the only possible hope for sanity in a subject lies in scrubbing their memory of the procedure and replacing it with a pleasant alternative.

The Bus[edit | edit source]

As a reward for his "above and beyond" service on the Helicarrier, Fury provided Coulson with his own transportation, a S.H.I.E.L.D. Globemaster, and gave him free rein to assemble a team for ops of his choosing and liking. However, his hand was 'guided' by May, according to what she says in "Turn, Turn, Turn", since she needed "Someone who could repair your body, a technician who could reprogram your brain, and a specialist to help me put you down if it had to be done".

In their first mission out the dynamic is changed drastically by the addition of Skye, who causes the entire team to individually reassess what they are doing and why. Coulson sees immense potential in her, describing her as an 0-8-4. He empathizes strongly with Mike Peterson's sense of powerlessness, having been (he believes) dead for the best part of a minute at the hands of a "god"

Coulson is betrayed by his former colleague and implied lover, Comandante Camilla Reyes, in Peru over the 'object of unknown origin' he and the team are sent there to recover. Fitz explosively decompresses the Bus, leading to a 'discussion' with a less-than-delighted Director.

Coulson is reluctant to risk Skye alone in the enemy camp on Malta, but has no other choice, so he works with Ward to provide back-up. Franklin Hall reminds Coulson of his own sense that people are keeping things from him, and that sometimes steps must be taken to protect everyone.

His own past comes back to haunt Coulson, his failure to instill team spirit, when they encounter Akela Amador, a one-time agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. believed killed, who instead was patched up by someone who took the opportunity to plant a small bomb in her, compelling her obedience. Coulson has changed enough for Amadour to feel compelled to remark on the transformation to others.

His sense of betrayal in profound when Skye is found almost literally in bed with her ex, Miles Lydon. Coulson has put his own reputation on the line in bringing Skye on to the Bus, with Fury himself having warned him Skye is a risk. The tightening feeling of a unifying force behind the threats encountered also makes Coulson less than comfortable.

His relationship with Jemma Simmons is highlighted in "FZZT", along with his disappointment in Skye. The firefighters' struggles to come to grips with life in the wake of the Battle of New York resonates strongly with him, and Coulson is annoyed with himself that he is unable to save Tony Diaz.

An overview of what he's been missing, and not, is brought to Coulson by the team's visit to The Hub. AgentHand appears to be almost everything his rep says Coulson was up to New York - high flyer, stickler and big picture planner. The Ossetian op shows him that he values his team more than just as a set of components, which may be news to everyone, Coulson included.

His instincts are not entirely shot, however, as Coulson's deduction of Elliot Randolph's true identity shows when the team go in search of the Berserker Staff. Getting to choose who you want to be has a powerful allure for Coulson, but his duties as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. take precedence.

Hannah Hutchins has a conviction, albeit in God and demons, that Coulson sorely lacks, and the "trapped between worlds" state of Tobias Ford rings haunting bells for him too. May's assertive action also contrasts with Coulson's occasionally near-paralyzing need to assess his own judgment and motivations.

The return of Mike Peterson brings a number of unresolved issues bubbling to the surface, not least Coulson's private life, or rather the lack thereof. Mike makes the only call a father could, and Coulson is the one who tells him so. Raina, however, as the mouthpiece of The Clairvoyant, wants to hear Coulson's tale from his own lips, starting with his death.

Edison Po and Raina do pretty much the ultimate 'bad cop, good cop' routine on Coulson when they try to access his memories of his recovery. The flood of traumatic recollection unleashed is perhaps stemmed in part by the presence of Skye, the one person above all for whom Coulson feels the need to be strong and protective. The extent and manner of his manipulation by S.H.I.E.L.D., however, appears unforgivable to Coulson.

When he's informed by May of her liaison with Ward, Coulson displays no shock, but simply checks she knows what she's doing. The bond between May and Coulson does not appear actively threatened by the other relationship, although Coulson does take a moment later to discuss it with Ward. As much as she will allow herself to, May appears to genuinely care for Coulson. the two of them uncover some rather startling information about Skye's past, something they've both been trying to divert her from exploring.

Coulson's sense of reality is once more under siege when the board the train in Italy which also carries Ian Quinn and, presumably, further Intel on the identity of the Clairvoyant. Fitz and Skye are left together on the train when Ward, May and Coulson have to 'jump ship', and in her usual intrepid manner, Skye goes on to confront Quinn, having faced him once already in Malta. This time, however, he is a far more calculating opponent, and shoots her in cold blood, dredging up endless memories for Coulson of the losses in his life and under his command.

His total focus on saving Skye leaves Coulson prey to every doubt he's had to date, and the fact that he has to stop May killing Quinn presumably goes against his instincts also. Agent Garrett's fast and loose grasp on the niceties of interrogation may perhaps raise his spirits somewhat, but the need for information is paramount. Once again, his own past, his rebirth, seems key to what's happening now, and Coulson has to try to face his nightmares in order to drag Skye back from the brink. The Guest House is the hall of horrors and recycling plant of horrific memories Coulson feared it might be, and his own piecemeal memory brings him no peace.

The "alien invasion" by Lorelei appears to come as almost a relief to Coulson, as, however overwhelming, it's at least a physical enemy he can fight - although that changes when Ward is seduced. Lady Sif has a clarity of purpose, as well as a knowledge of blue-skinned individuals, Coulson envies, it seems, and the web around him gets ever more tangled.

Coulson calls together the 'top brass', or at least the top field agents the team have encountered, and organizes a massive manhunt for the Clairvoyant, looking to eliminate both the viper and its nest in one fell swoop. Agent Sitwell is called away, but the rest team up to track down 'overlooked' potential psychics from The Index. His own team, however, is fracturing from within, with May hunting Fitz and Ward in the brig for shooting Thomas Nash, whose confession of being the Clairvoyant Coulson now doubts, leading him to question Ward's motives and loyalty. As Coulson engages in a stand-off with May, and Skye looks to back him up, the Bus suddenly changes course - with no one apparently at the helm.

Coulson believes Fury is the key to all this, but the Director is no longer off-grid - he's now reported as dead. May was taking her orders directly from him, which expands the conspiracy around Coulson to mind-frying proportions, and it's no longer clear which level of the secrets anyone is trying to protect. With the fallout of "Winter Soldier" collapsing all around them, the team are not together in any sense, and their chances of survival are dwindling. The numbing blows keep coming with the revelation that Garrett is the Clairvoyant, and the massacre of the S.H.I.E.L.D. loyalists in a rescue team by the HYDRA infiltrators in their midst. Coulson has lost faith in almost everyone by the time Fitz and Hand stage a rescue and take Garrett into custody. Coulson believes that May is no longer a friend but is an ally, and thus vital to hopes of survival.

Director Fury, however, apparently left Coulson a going away present - a set of coordinates inscribed into his badge. Arriving, much against the wishes of most of what's left of the team plus Trip, at this location, they discover it's a secret base Fury prepared and stocked - known as Providence by the Eric Koenig

For security reasons, Koenig interrogates everyone except Coulson, leading eventually to Ward's Hydra allegiance being revealed and Koening's own death. Coulson is at a loss what to do, and drives May from the base with his criticism and distrust. Everything around him is proving unreliable, which as Coulson has given his life to S.H.I.E.L.D. is particularly disorienting for him.

In Beginning of the End, Coulson finally catches up to Hydra at a Cybertek facility and destroys the super soldier program and watches Deathlok kill John Garrett. During a small scene towards the end we see Garrett get up and be improved by super soldier machine. Coulson walks in and uses the Hydra weapon (0-8-4) against Garrett. Coulson talks with Fury and is given a small cube containing coordinates for a new Shield base called The Playground. Fury than declares Coulson the new Director of Shield. The team lands at The Playground to meet Simmons and also see a familiar face but find out that this is not Eric Koenig but Billy Koenig. Coulson awakens in the middle of the night and begins exhibiting signs of the same enhanced mental capacities and fixation that Garrett experienced by drawing symbols on the wall. It should also be noted that it is the same symbols that Ward took pictures of in the episode "Eye Spy".

Marvel Universe[edit | edit source]

Phil Coulson


Real Name
Philip Coulson
First Appearance
Battle Scars #1 (January, 2012)
Chris Yost, Cullen Bunn, Matt Fraction, Scot Eaton
Team Affliations
S.H.I.E.L.D., Secret Avengers, Doom's Avengers, U.S. Army Rangers
Cheese, Son of Coul, Bob Pants, ROFLCopter
Base of Operations
S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier
Skills and Abilities
Marksman, Martial Artist, S.H.I.E.L.D. training and expertise
SHIELD standard issue ordinance

Agent Phil Coulson is a high-ranking agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Marvel Universe

TV shows and movies[edit | edit source]

TV shows

  • Ultimate Spider-Man
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D


  • Thor
  • Avengers
  • Iron Man
  • Iron Man 2

Equipment and Abilities[edit | edit source]


  • Night-Night gun
  • Taser
  • Guns


  • Has agent training
  • hand-to-hand combat
  • interrogation
  • detective skills
  • sharpshooting
  • martial artist
  • expert tactician
  • expert strategist
  • Expert field commander

Marvel Universe[edit | edit source]

Phil Coulson is also a top S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in the Marvel Universe.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.