Let us talk a moment about Phil Coulson played by the wonderful Clark Gregg.
Is he the coolest secret agent since James Bond? I honestly don’t know. I do know what Coulson is, however, and that is one of the biggest BAMFs in the oeuvre of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Phil Coulson is, at first blush, a basic government drone. When he appears in the first Iron Man movie, he just seems to be your average government lackey who is just trying to do his job. Later, however, he was able to get into Section Sixteen with Pepper and set up a believable story for where Tony was to try to preserve his privacy.
I never said the man succeeded. But he did try.
Now, when Phil Coulson, with his dry wit and ruthless competency, was fleshed out in the movies it was in the Marvel one-shots The Consultant and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor’s Hammer that the fans began to love the character.
In The Consultant, we find out how well he works behind the scenes when he knows that Tony Stark is enough to annoy the General Ross into not having the Abomination from The Incredible Hulk forced onto the Avengers roster.
Because really? Who would you rather have? The Hulk?
Or would you want the Abomination?
We can all thank the planning of Phil Coulson for making sure the Avengers have a Hulk Smashing on their team.
His expanded role in Iron Man 2 was where he gave us this absolute gem of a threat:
I think I can accurately pinpoint the above as the moment that I got a crush on Phil Coulson.
It was solidified through his role in Thor and in the side story, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor’s Hammer.
He faced down a destroyer, interrogated a post-rampaging god of Thunder, politely tried to speak to a giant flaming machine of death, and took out two thieves with a bag of flour on the way there for funsies. Then he paid for his donuts and left. Why?
Because Phil Coulson is awesome. I really want to make a Chuck Norris joke here but I won’t.
Finally, in his last appearance in a Marvel movie, Coulson was given a more human side and also allowed for a true moment of just a person standing down the Big Bad. In The Avengers, we see the more human side of Coulson where he reveals his giant fanboy side about Captain America.
When Coulson faced down Loki, he did it knowing that he probably was not going to come out of there alive. Yet, he went in there anyway with a resolve and getting the last laugh. Now, the whole surviving his death thing is complicated, and I won’t get into it. Yet it does not detract from his willing sacrifice in order to protect the people of his planet and the ship. He did it with no powers or special abilities, but rather with a steel spine and cajones the size of basketballs.
When Agent Coulson returned on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., he became the star and also showed a sort of fatherly instinct. He cares about and encourages his team in equal measures. He chooses the best people for the job, but simultaneously also chooses the people who need to be there the most. Coulson’s resurrection was a big mystery, but the empathy, kindness, and regard that he held for his team was a great addition to the character.
It allowed for him to become fleshed out more. It also allowed viewers a chance to connect with him while also showing that even death cannot stop Agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D.
He has no superpowers or enhanced abilities in anyway. He’s a man who is damn good at his job. Phil Coulson is the Everyman in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s not a Avenger, but he is a hero in the best way. He shows just folks with a steel resolve and a willingness to die for what you value and care for can change the world. Because without Coulson’s “death” in The Avengers, would there have been a final push for peace and resolve? He is the catalyst and makes change happen.
He got the Avengers together and gave them a common cause. He brought his team on the Bus together and gave them a family. His own mysteries and curiosities about “Tahiti” were there in the back of his mind. But to Phil, the most important thing is his people. In the past, maybe, that wasn’t always the case but with professionalism, asskicking skills, depth of caring, and quick dry wit Agent Phil Coulson showed that a BAMF doesn’t need to wear a costume or anything. It’s a potential that rests inside all of us and we just need to step up and own it in order to help those around us.
Instead, Coulson shows how the ordinary can survive, thrive, and triumph in an extraordinary world. That is why he is the biggest BAMF in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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