Since 2013, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have wondered when the Avengers might learn that their pal Phil Coulson is back from the dead and as active as ever, following his demise at the hands of Loki in 2012's original Avengers film. According to Coulson himself, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Clark Gregg, that's not a moment likely to make the big screen.
Speaking to press including CBR this week in Los Angeles in advance of Friday's season 5 premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Gregg stated his opinion that Earth's Mightiest Heroes have probably "moved on" from Agent Coulson at this point.
"It's really touching to me how much the fans stay obsessed with the idea of when the Avengers are going to learn Coulson's alive," Gregg told reporters. "I don't know, I find that so touching. I think the Avengers have moved on, they're busy."
As hard as that may be to hear, it's not surprising given the general trend of Marvel's live-action projects over the past few years. There have been fewer and fewer connections between the film world and the TV world, and actors and producers alike have repeatedly advised fans not to expect overt crossovers between the two. The break became even clearer when news surfaced in 2015 that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige would now report to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn, rather than Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has specifically become more and more of its own entity during the course of its run, after starting out with the explicit purpose of filling in the blanks of the films. Still, Coulson remains a unique case, having first appeared in the movies -- debuting back in 2008's Iron Man, which kicked off the ongoing MCU continuity. Given that, he didn't completely close the door on the possibility of some sort of acknowledgement in the future of Coulson's status, as unlikely as it may be.
"I think it's a great credit to the show and the characters and the actors who brought these characters to life and to our production team, to Mark Kolpack's visual effects and to the great writing of our writers, [executive producers] Jed [Whedon], [Maurissa Tancharoen] and Jeff [Bell], because I think there's a growing number of people who kind of feel like this feels like a part of that bigger world and they want to see the various worlds," Gregg said. "Whether it's the incredible Netflix world of New York, they just want at some point to feel that this is one big story, which I still believe it is. And you know, when the time is right, who knows?"
After multiple appearances in Marvel's movies leading to fan-favorite status, Gregg moved to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with that show's premiere in 2013, and has remained one of the central characters through the show's run. The show's two-hour fifth season premiere -- which sees the show move to space -- premieres 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1 on ABC.