Character Study: Phil Coulson

It’s always the quiet ones. Even more so if they’re also the little guy. This is most certainly the case if that quiet little guy is one Phil Coulson.

Coulson isn’t exactly a character one would initially expect to have a loyal following, much less receive a spin-off tv series. Played flawlessly by the charming and handsome Clark Gregg, when Coulson first debuted in Iron Man, he made it a point to be as quiet and non-assuming as humanly possible.

Understandable, given that he is a secret agent.

While most people would take Coulson at face value, a few of us immediately recognized that when it came to our Secret Agent Man, there was more to him than meets the eye.

Jasper Sitwell said it best, when he told Coulson, “For a quiet guy, you make a lot of noise.”

Coulson is in many respects the “Anti-Stark.“ Whereas Stark is the cocky, larger than life billionaire playboy whose charisma might exceed his wealth, Coulson has a much more subdued style. 

He has what can best be described as “Grown Folks' Swag.” Whether standing next to gods or irradiated monsters, he’s a man who’s comfortable in his own skin and is confident in who he is. He doesn't have to be the life of the party. He's more than content to hover in a corner.

Though he only shows it in glimpses, Coulson is a multifaceted individual who appreciates the classic and the cultured. This is a man who listens to jazz, was romantically involved with a cellist, and his transportation of choice is a flying red 1962 Chevrolet Corvette. This is also the man who collected the vintage Captain America trading cards. With the exception of the Super Soldier himself, Coulson is many respects a man out of time and a throwback to a more idealistic era of yore.

Whereas Nick Fury was at times ruthless and morally dubious as a necessity to successfully perform his job as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Director Coulson is one of the most compassionate characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ve seen him go above and beyond for Michael Peterson and his son and he’s taken on a paternal role for Skye.

This is an Avenger who values life, wholeheartedly believes in the principles S.H.I.E.L.D. was intended to stand for. In a time when S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to be reborn free of Hydra’s corruption, Fury couldn’t have selected a better successor to lead the way. But compassion doesn’t mean weak and Son of Coul certainly has an edge. After all, when you can hold your own in a snarkfest with Samuel L. Jackson, you’re on another level of cool.

One thing is obvious, our secret agent man is still by in large a a mystery and his story is far from over. But we wouldn't expect anything less from the quiet one.

on December 8, 2015