Many fans were surprised about the cast announcement for Captain Marvel today, which revealed the return of Phil Coulson to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But while some might consider Clark Gregg's role in the new movie to be a new connection between Marvel Studios and Marvel Television, early signs point toward the role being bad news for shows like Marvel's Agents of SHIELD.
Gregg was announced to be reprising his role as Agent Coulson, who first appeared in Iron Man and was a connecting thread for the early Marvel movies until his ultimate demise in The Avengers. The character was resurrected as part of Agents of SHIELD, though the ABC series was never acknowledged on the big screen.
Given that Captain Marvel takes place in the '90s and will show Nick Fury's earlier days in SHIELD, it makes sense that Coulson would be involved. But knowing that the movie will adapt the classic Avengers comic storyline of the Kree-Skrull War tends to complicate the future established in Agents of SHIELD.
Coulson was listed as part of the main cast, and even though we don't know the plot of the movie, that tends to indicate that Gregg will play a major role in the film. Which is all well and good until you remember that Coulson was resurrected by Kree physiology after his death in The Avengers, and the character was none the wiser about them or their Inhuman experiments in the series.
But if the Kree-Skrull War plays a significant role in Captain Marvel, it's hard to believe that Coulson would have never heard of either alien race by the time Agents of SHIELD begins, and even harder to believe that he wouldn't discover their existence when he becomes Director and gains access to all of that previously classified information.
Basically, this movie is setting up a major opportunity for Marvel Studios to completely ignore everything that has happened in Marvel Television. This isn't out of the ordinary, as the dog that is the movie franchise has always wagged the tail that is the TV series. But Captain Marvel provides an opportunity for the films to undermine all of the stories that have been told on Agents of SHIELD.
Gregg has likely known that he would participate in this movie for a long time. And if he did, Marvel Television would have likely planned fo this by making some cursory mentions in the first half of Agents of SHIELD Season 5, which dealt heavily with the Kree.
But Coulson — despite being resurrected by the alien race's DNA, and despite having taken over SHIELD, and despite having learned about many of Fury's secrets — knows nothing about the Kree.
Of course, there is always the opportunity for Captain Marvel to be the olive branch, to make cursory ties and references to events that could eventually lead to Coulson forgetting the existence of the Kree — or, perhaps, never even learning of their existehnce. But this movie is already dwelling in the past of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It's bringing in Kree characters who were already established in Guardians Of The Galaxy, fleshing out the backstory of SHIELD, and introducing a brand new faction in the Skrulls. That's a tall order for any film, connecting all of these disparate narratives while telling a compelling story.
That's not to say it isn't impossible, considering Nick Fury's knowledge of the Kree was established alongside the T.A.H.I.T.I. Project in the first season of Agents of SHIELD. There's a very simple way for the films to connect to what has already happened on television.
But, considering the nonexistent relationship between Marvel Studios and their small-screen counterparts, we would not be surprised if Captain Marvel contradicts many events that have already happened on Agents of SHIELD.
Captain Marvel premieres in theaters on March 6.