Phil Coulson

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Name: Phillip J. "Phil" Coulson
Occupation: Agent of SHIELD
Relationships: Clint Barton/Phil Coulson, Phil Coulson/Steve Rogers
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe (Iron Man films, Thor Movieverse, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Avengers Movieverse), The Avengers (Marvel), Marvel 616, Ultimate Spider-Man (cartoon)
Other: Portrayed by Clark Gregg
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Phil Coulson is an agent of SHIELD in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, mainstream Marvel Comics continuity, and Ultimate Spider-Man (cartoon). He is portrayed by actor Clark Gregg.


Phil Coulson appeared as a recurring character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in the first and second Iron Man (2008, 2010) films, Thor (2011), and The Avengers (2012). Based on his popularity, his character has also been incorporated into mainstream Marvel Comics continuity in 2012 as well as Ultimate Spider-Man (cartoon) starting in April 2012 to the present. Coulson makes a by-name cameo appearance in the Iron Man: Armored Adventures in March 2012.

Agent Coulson was killed by Loki during the events of The Avengers, his death being used to spur on the team. However, due to his popularity and the success of the fan-run "Coulson Lives" campaign, he is currently alive and starring in the ABC series Agents of SHIELD which began in September 2013. In the first season, much mystery surrounded how he had returned to the living, and how much Phil actually knew was not certain. It's hinted at in the pilot for the show that he was in Tahiti or at least believed he was in Tahiti[1]. Fans theorized about how Coulson came back to life. Popular theories included that he was brought back by magic or he was a robot[2]. Neither was the case. In fact, Coulson was brought back to life by a drug created from Kree DNA.


Fanon and Common Tropes in Fanworks

  • Pheels - a fandom-specific variation of feels
  • One popular piece of fanon is that Agent Coulson is the son of Agent K from Men In Black.
  • Canonically, he is a fan of Captain America and Supernanny. In fanon this has been expanded to a love of all reality television and sometimes intense hero worship of Steve Rogers.
  • He is very particular about his car Lola in canon, and in fanon is often paired with it.

Six Degrees Influences

Every Hero Needs an Origin Story references Clark Gregg's previous role as Mike Casper on The West Wing.

Coulson Lives

Coulson Lives was a fan movement to bring Coulson back to life after his death in The Avengers (2012).

Common Pairings

The most common pairing (as tagged on AO3) is Clint Barton/Phil Coulson, followed by Phil Coulson/Melinda May. Other relationships include Phil Coulson/Clint Barton/Natasha Romanov and Phil Coulson/Natasha Romanov. Phil Coulson/Darcy Lewis has also popped up in fanworks, although they usually have a more platonic than romantic relationship in fanfic.

Since the premiere of the Agents of SHIELD show, the most common pairings remain Clint/Phil, Phil/Nick Fury, and Phil/The Cellist. However, with the new characters introduced by the show, other pairings are gaining popularity: Phil Coulson/Melinda May, Phil Coulson/Lola, Phil Coulson/Leo Fitz/Jemma Simmons, and Phil Coulson/Grant Ward.

The pairing of Phil Coulson/Skye has increased in popularity in recent seasons, and the gen pairing of these two characters also appears. Some fans dislike pairing Coulson with Skye for a number of reasons. Some believe Skye views Coulson as a father figure, and dislike shipping a younger woman with a much older man. Others prefer to ship Phil with May, and view this ship negatively as a result.


Notable Fanworks

Phil as The Hierophant tarot card, part of a series, Art Deco Avengers Tarot, by artist Julia Cross




Other Fanworks

Archives and Communities

Fannish Links





  1. ^ "He can never know", a gif of the lines from the show featuring Maria Hill and Dr. Streiten about Phil.
  2. ^ The Agent Coulson Theory for Those Keeping Score at The Turtle Cave. Posted on October 9, 2013.