The Marvel Cinematic Universe will be whole once again in 2019 when Agent Coulson returns for Captain Marvel.
Disney and Marvel Studios announced today that Clark Gregg — the actor best known known for portraying Agent Coulson in Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Thor before his untimely death in The Avengers — will reprise his character in Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel’s story will take place in the early ‘90s, which pre-dates the first entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by more than a decade (Iron Man was set in 2008, the same year it was released). At a San Diego Comic-Con panel last July, it was announced that Captain Marvel will mark the first MCU appearance of the Skrulls, the villainous, shape-shifting alien race.
Agent Coulson was not adapted from Marvel Comics, but rather created whole cloth to serve as a connecting thread between Marvel’s Phase One films. It’s safe to assume that he’s being brought in to Captain Marvel for similar reasons. But there’s also a little bit of fan service at play, as Coulson, the original Captain America fanboy, has always been a fan favorite.
After his death in The Avengers, he was resurrected to lead the central team of agents in the ABC sci-fi drama Agents of SHIELD, but has not been slated to appear in another Marvel feature film until now. Marvel Studios co-president Kevin Feige previously said he’s always wanted to bring Coulson back to film, it was just a matter of how to about about making that happen.
Coulson isn’t the only familiar face that Marvel fans will find in Captain Marvel, either. Lee Pace and Djimon Hounsou will reprise their respective roles as Ronan the Accuser and Korath the Pursuer from the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Ronan was a radical member of the alien Kree, who attempted to destroy the planet of Xandar with the purple Infinity Stone. Korath the Pursuer was one of Ronan’s underlings. Both were defeated by the newly-formed Guardians of the Galaxy. Captain Marvel will also feature a young Nick Fury, as was announced at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
All of which is to say, again, that Marvel is looking for ways to tie Captain Marvel to the overarching cinematic universe as it heads into the fourth phase. The current third phase of the MCU will conclude in 2019 with the release of Avengers 4. Feige has referred to the end of the current MCU — and most of the Avengers as we know them — as a reset of sorts for the franchise.