Contact: heatherberry | firstname.lastname@example.org
Game Cast: n/a
Name: (Agent) Phillip Coulson
Canon: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Canon Point: Immediately post-death in “The Avengers”
Age: Late 40s
Reference: Phil @ the MCU wiki | Phil @ Wikipedia
Headcanon—and there is a fair amount of it, because lawl "minor" character whut—is marked in blue.
Phil's world is a lot like our own, except for the whole "superheroes and pseudo-magic and monsters" thing. As far as the superheroes go, some are humans with special training, some are humans with superhuman abilities, some are humans who happen to own some really awesome tech toys (or, in the case of Tony Stark, can build really awesome tech toys), and some are a mix of all of the above. Others aren't human at all. The pseudo-magic most often comes in the form of extremely advanced technology, but if you were to go snooping (bad idea), you might discover that some of that tech is also—or was originally—extraterrestrial in nature. And the monsters—well, you can't have superheroes without anything to fight, now can you?
And this is where S.H.I.E.L.D. comes in. S.H.I.E.L.D., also known as the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, is an organization that might as well not exist for all that's known about it by the general public. This organization has multiple functions, each of which is crucially important to maintaining the balance between the human and the superhuman in a world where the two are constantly interacting (and sometimes coming to blows). They're part law enforcement, part espionage, part military. It's unclear which branch of which government S.H.I.E.L.D. falls under, if it's subject to any governmental control at all—which is extremely unlikely, but unclear.
S.H.I.E.L.D. agents like Phil are specially trained in everything from weapons use to interrogation techniques to more minor—but still important—things like public relations. They serve as the catch-all for things other organizations can't or won't handle and although they're relatively new and relatively small compared to groups like the CIA and SIS, the operatives they employ and the missions they carry out have been responsible—on multiple occasions—for saving the world.
The history of Phil's world closely mirrors that of the Earth we know today, although it's impossible to ignore the influence the above factors have had in shaping the narrative of Phil's world. A prime example of this is the existence of the group Hydra, who, while working with the Nazis, harnessed Tesseract technology to manufacture super weapons for the Axis. In response, America created its first real superhero: Captain America.
Phil grew up in the late 60s-early 70s, so like many children raised during the Vietnam era, he turned toward the idea of superheroes for comfort and hope. After Cap went missing at the tail end of WWII (or, some may argue, even before that), he turned from national celebrity to worldwide legend, and little Phil latched on to that star-spangled image as soon as he could understand concepts like good and evil and patriotism. An entire generation of would-be heroes was raised during this time, many of whom—like Phil—would later be recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D. service for their idealism, patriotism, and willingness to fight the good fight.
The things that happen in Phil's world are literally fantastic, literally awesome, and often terrifying. Though organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D. remain—for the most part—secret, the heroes of the day are very much in the public eye and for that reason are the subjects of both adoration and criticism. In the end, though, the uninvolved and mundane humans in this world need those images, just as Phil did, to keep the nightmares at bay.
And they need S.H.I.E.L.D. just as much as they need the heroes.
"We're the good guys." | "One way or another, we find out what we want to know. We're good at that."
Phil is the model S.H.I.E.L.D. agent: loyal, reliable, dedicated, and willing. He believes wholeheartedly in the cause for which he's fighting and has never questioned or disobeyed the orders handed down to him (but he's been known, on occasion, to offer suggestions or carry out orders in a slightly different way than originally planned—this was a Thing That Got Him In Trouble when he was younger, but has served him well ever since). Some may mistake this zeal for blind obedience, but that's far from the case—Phil wakes up every day knowing that there's a good chance he'll have to hurt someone or may be hurt himself, and he's okay with that. He has to be.
He's Fury's best man, his "good eye," and is considered a legend by junior and senior agents alike.
"This isn't my first rodeo, Mr. Stark." | "Thank you for your cooperation."
Next to Director Fury, Phil is probably S.H.I.E.L.D.'s most experienced agent. He's been on task forces, surveillance teams, ground interference teams; he was the primary operative in the Sector 16 investigation and the Avengers Initiative and he ran tactical operations in Puente Antiguo when Thor's hammer was discovered... among a pile of other things.
Phil is tough, and he knows it. His experience as an agent has shaped him into the curious mix that he is: polite but badass, patient but liable to explode into fits of badassery at any second, your run-of-the-mill everyman with badass tendences thanks to his extensive training. (No, his middle name is not "Badass." But it should be.) When S.H.I.E.L.D. recruited him, he was little more than a mild-mannered New England boy who happened to catch the organization's attention while training with the UMass ROTC. (A side note: The fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. recruited him is something he will always, always be proud of. He always wanted to serve his country, but he never dreamed he'd wind up working with such skilled men and women and come to be considered one of them—let alone one of the best of them.)
His patience has been his biggest asset since day one and is part of what made him so well-known within the division; when he says "I can do this all day" during an interrogation, he means it. Phil tries to avoid physical conflicts whenever he can, and though he's well-versed in torture techniques, he usually finds them messy and unnecessary—he'd much rather sit with someone and smile that polite, tight-lipped smile of his until the suspect cracks. Surprisingly, it often works. As for when it doesn't work, well. Then his other training comes into play. His current record is 31 hours and 24 minutes.
"If you try to escape, or play any sort of games with me, I will taze you and watch 'Supernanny' while you drool into the carpet." | "Move away, please."
Somewhat contrary to the above, Phil can be impatient when he feels the situation calls for it (read: when dealing with Tony Stark). He also has a very low tolerance for bullshit, which is another vital part of what makes him so good at his job—superheroes can be difficult, sometimes. Diva-like, even. Phil's happy to keep them in check, but do not make the mistake of calling him a babysitter. For this reason, some might call him grumpy or wonder aloud if there's a stick up his ass (read: Tony Stark), but the only thing that makes him grumpy is paperwork. Paperwork and evil-doing. And there is no stick up his ass, but thank you for your concern.
On that note, Phil is also prone to snark. His bad moods are rare, but when they exist, he makes it known by being short, snarky, and sometimes even sarcastic. He'll banter playfully with those he's comfortable with, but that list is a short one.
He's the epitome of grace under pressure; if "Keep Calm and Carry On" had a poster child, it'd be Phil. (Never mind that it's a British phrase. Shh.) He's also highly adaptable, and the combination of these traits make him ideal man to put in the field.
"Barton's been compromised." | "You lack conviction."
All of the above might make one think that Phil is unemotional and maybe even stoic, but that's mostly not true. He may not show his emotions often, but he's got a lot churning just below the surface that's revealed through little things like the tone of his voice or the look on his face. When he tells Natasha that Clint's been compromised, his voice drops because he knows that what he's telling her is going to hurt; when the research facility blows, the expression on Phil's face is complete shock; when he's on the verge of death, we see a single tear roll down his cheek. Phil is a fairly emotional guy, but emotions are easily manipulated. He knows how to keep them at bay.
But it would also be a lie to say that all he's been through hasn't desensitized him, because it has. A lot.
His relationships with others are complicated. It takes time to earn his trust and few people are willing to take that time, so his romances have been few and far between. (And those that have managed to sprout usually wilted under the demands of his job. Much as he would have liked moving to Portland to settle down, he couldn't.) The line between 'friend' and 'ally' is a bit wiggly for Phil, but he always feels like he's bonded with people after going through a crisis with them. A good example of this is his relationship with Pepper Potts.
The one time we see Phil express a strong positive emotion is when he meets Steve for the first time. Standing next to Captain America brings out the child in him and it's not hard to imagine Phil as that idealistic little kid running around his backyard with a towel for a cape. As Clark Gregg said in an interview, Phil may not fit the superhero image, but he believes in his heart that he's one of the Avengers.
He knew what he was in for when he went after Loki on his own. As he lay dying, he mumbled to Fury, "It's okay, boss. This was never gonna work if they didn't have something to..."
Something to push them together, just like Fury said they needed.
"I'm clockin' out here." | "Goodbye? I just got back."
As a character, Phil is fleshed out more and more with each canon appearance and makes the difficult move from minor character to major character fairly quickly. He goes from the cool but sober, no-nonsense face of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Iron man films to an obvious (but still cool) badass in his "A Funny Thing Happened" one-shot. His appearance in Thor solidifies his role as the go-to S.H.I.E.L.D. agent for those "oh shit" situations, and by the time The Avengers happens, Phil is a multifaceted character crucial to the plot
AND TO OUR HEARTS.
Really, he's who a lot of us wish we were: The average Joe-turned-hero not thanks to any special powers, but thanks to his actions. Phil is a hero because he's Phil.
Phil is going to be very confused upon his arrival, probably to the point of complete disorientation, which is going to be surprising to those who know him. He was raised by Catholic parents and kindasorta believes in God, so when he finds himself in Keeliai and not in a cloud kingdom with pearly gates swinging open for him, he's going to wonder what the hell went wrong. After all that's happened in his life and the events taking place just before his death, you'd think he'd be more inclined to believe the impossible... but no, he's going to have a lot of trouble with this one. He's also going to have trouble coping with the fact that he's dead, but he won't want to question that as much: he knows he died back home. It's more of a question of what he has to do now; without S.H.I.E.L.D., he's going to feel pretty damn lost.
He'll (probably) eventually come to see his arrival on the island as something of a second chance, another opportunity to do good with his idols by his side. And that will make him happy. What more can he ask for from the afterlife, right?
Appearance: Agent Coulson stands at roughly 5'9", has thinning brown hair and blue eyes with brown flecks near the cornea, a fair complexion that tans pretty well, an athletic build bordering on the muscular, and an overall clean-cut look. You'd be hard pressed to imagine him wearing anything other than a suit, and he really wouldn't want you to.
Physically, Phil is not that intimidating (especially not when you put him next to, say, people like Thor or Clint), but he's trained in multiple types of hand to hand combat. He can't pick you up and throw you, but he can probably punch your lights out. And if that doesn't work, he can always pinch that nerve you never knew existed and bring you to your knees and maybe make you cry. Or he can just shoot you. He's really good with guns. He's also trained in the fine art of improvised weaponry, so he can also take you out with a bag of flour if he needs to.
Phil is a master interrogator and field tactics expert, so he's pretty damn intelligent. His mental fortitude is also impressive, and by impressive I mean it would probably be easier to breathe in space than it would be to get information out of Phil if he doesn't want to give it to you. There's a reason he has level 7 security clearance, you know.
- tailored suit, including:
- bloodstained black blazer with a hole in the back
- bloodstained light blue shirt with a hole in the back
- bloodstained, patterned navy blue tie
- black slacks
- black socks and polished black Oxfords
- silver, white-faced analog watch
- black leather belt with silver buckle
- S.H.I.E.L.D. ID card, level 7 security access, pinned to the lapel of his blazer
- standard issue 9mm handgun, 8 rounds remaining, likely damaged by the water
- bluetooth earpiece synced to his...
- super high tech smart phone, both likely damaged by the water
- brown leather wallet, containing:
- $27.41 in random bills and loose change
- New York state driver's license
- American Express card
- vintage Captain America trading card tucked behind his driver's license
- a pair of sunglasses, tucked in the inner pocket of his blazer
- two sticks of spearmint gum in his pants pocket
- one empty gum wrapper in that same pocket
- a ring of keys, including:
- the key to an Acura
- the key to his apartment
- another keyring full of discount/rewards cards for places like Duane Reade and Blockbuster
- pewter Portland Spirit keychain
- the Destroyer gun (also "Coulson's Revenge"), a reverse-engineered weapon that is capable of discharging large amounts of energy, likely damaged by the water
Suite: Earth sector, two floors preferred. His attitude and outlook fit in best with those who live in the Earth sector, as Phil is the definition of (pardon the pun) grounded. Also, his ideal home—the one he always pictured in his mind's eye, the one he could never have as long as he was facing death each day with S.H.I.E.L.D.—is stereotypically American dream-esque, the kind of home a family could live in comfortably.
When Phil bursts into the armory, his wide-eyed gaze immediately falls on the newest piece of technology S.H.I.E.L.D.'s engineered, an impressively large gun on display behind metal bars. He's heard it called a number of things, but mentally settled on the Destroyer Gun when he first saw the blueprints weeks ago. It seemed fitting and simple, and the other possibilities seemed way too dramatic. He doesn't need any more dramatics right now, thank you very much.
He swipes his ID card past the electronic lock on the cage, then reaches in to retrieve the weapon.
It's heavy. He gingerly tests the weight in his arms as though he's holding a child, then peers closely at its shell in the hope that he can figure out what it might do, but to no avail. After a few seconds of attempting to think with the alarms blaring like screams in his ears, he decides that it must do something damaging, and he knows exactly how to find out what it's capable of. If only he knew where the little rat—
Fury's voice cracks through Phil's earpiece, stern and loud enough to make his eardrum rattle painfully. "He's got Thor in the cage! Someone get over there!"
"Aha." Phil smiles to himself and readies the weapon in his hands. "Thank you, sir."
On the way, his stomach lurches as injured and uninjured agents run past him. Instinct tells him not to do this on his own, but what other choice does he have? Endanger more lives just so he can delay Loki? Whatever the gun does, he's sure it won't be enough to kill a god. The best he can hope for is throwing a wrench in the plans—that way, maybe Thor can escape. Maybe then there'll be a chance. He swallows the lump in his throat like a bad pill and tries to keep his cold hands steady, resolve building a wall around his heart.
The door to the area housing the cage is open, blocked from shutting completely by a dead body in a S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform. Phil grimaces and steps over it. There's another agent standing nearby, and Phil doesn't have to wonder why he's not doing anything to stop the black-haired god as he approaches the console. The front of the Destroyer meets the back of the agent's head—the blow is hard enough to knock him out, but not kill him—and then, Phil aims.
"Move away, please."
[The screen flickers on, and there sits Phil. He's wearing the same clothes he arrived in—a rumpled, still-damp suit, the red that saturated his chest not long ago now a pinkish smear on the light blue canvas of his shirt. His S.H.I.E.L.D. ID is hanging loosely from his lapel, his hair is a little messier than he'd like, and there's an obvious hole in the fabric near his heart, but he's wearing the expression of a man who's too dazed to give a damn.
That, or he just hasn't noticed.
More likely, it's both. He hasn't noticed, and even if he did... he's dead, right? So who cares?]
My name is Phil Coulson. I just—
[He hesitates, thinking. Tired blue eyes flicker toward the keyboard, then dart back up, this time focusing directly on the camera.]
I arrived here a little while ago.
[And there it is, the thin-lipped little smile he uses in so many situations. This time, it's meant to convey something akin to appreciation, but it looks a bit pained. He's not sure he can help that.]
Just thought I would say hello.