Major Spoilers For The Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Season 4 Finale Follow
Tonight’s season finale of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, “World’s End,” concluded with a surprising reveal about Phil Coulson, leader of SHIELD. The reveal raises many questions about Coulson and his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One among them should be, “Is Phil Coulson the Man on the Wall?”
The Man on the Wall is a significant role from the Marvel Comics Universe. While it was held by at least one other before him, the Man on the Wall for most of the Marvel Universe’s existence was Nick Fury. He kept this role secret from his fellow members of SHIELD and from the superheroes he so often found himself working with because it required him to take decisive and sometimes morally questionable action of the sort that may cause heroes and average men to waiver.
The purpose of the Man on the Wall is to defend the Earth from otherworldly threats at any cost. Here’s how Nick Fury described his duties as the Man on the Wall once he forced to expose this role to others during Marvel’s Original Sin event, which was written by Jason Aaron:
“I've killed... More times than I can count. I've burned worlds. Destabilized galaxies. Dethroned gods. And I did it without any of them even knowing my name. That's what it means to be the man on the wall. To be the invisible monster who keeps the other monsters at bay.”
Fury only revealed this information to the other Marvel heroes because the Infinity Formula that had kept him young for so long had been drained from his body and he was aging rapidly and would soon die. He needed someone to replace him as the Man on the Wall, and so he set up a faux murder investigation as a test for his six candidates – Emma Frost, The Punisher, The Winter Soldier, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Ant-Man – one last example of the lengths the Man on the Wall will go to achieve his goals. The Winter Soldier eventually replaced Fury as the Man on the Wall.
This brings us back to Phil Coulson and the Agents of SHIELD Season 4 finale. The final scene of the season revealed Phil Coulson waking up for what seemed for him to be a routine day of work in outer space, and this was apparently taking place just after the events that transpired with AIDA and Ghost Rider on Earth. This seems similar to how Fury was able to somehow operate on Earth and in space for years without anyone noticing.
Could this mean that Phil Coulson is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Man on the Wall? It would make sense. It is possible that Coulson would have taken it upon himself to become the Man on the Wall after discovering the existence of alien races like the Chitauri and the Kree. Another possibility is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Nick Fury was also the Man on the wall and that, after installing Coulson as the new director of SHIELD, Fury may also have filled him in on the duties of his other role. Perhaps Fury’s Toolbox contained files that detailed more than just peoples, places, and events transpiring on Earth, and perhaps something has occurred that is going to force Coulson to admit what he’s been doing to his SHIELD team.
We'll be waiting for