Phil Coulson and Peggy Carter: The Glue in the MCU

I got into a conversation with somebody the other day about how the Marvel television shows on ABC seem disconnected from the Marvel Cinematic Universe despite the fact that #ItsAllConnected as it was heavily marketed (and hashtaged).

This got me thinking about the two characters in the Marvel television shows on ABC who've also been in the films. They are basically looked as the glue in the films. The characters that bind some of the narrative together. First was the introduction of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) who appeared at the end of Iron Man ringing in the age of the Avengers.

Coulson would show up in various movies, including Thor, Iron Man 2, The Avengers and a couple of Marvel One-Shots. While Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury might have been in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson was the most important field agent to build the team eventually to become the Avengers.

And, then, Coulson dies in The Avengers. His death is the thing that actually inspires the Avengers to work together for the greater good. And Coulson dies a hero.

Then Marvel Television and ABC Studios announced that it would producing a show called Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which would feature Coulson as the leader of the team. Say what? I thought he was dead. Well, as we all learned Tahiti was a magical place and biff, bang, boom...Phil Coulson is back from the dead. It also involved some pretty intensive brain surgery and Kree blood as well.

One of the biggest conceits of the show is that both the Marvel Television shows are connected to the Marvel Studios movies. And, given that Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was being headlined by a character who had appeared in several movies and was basically the glue of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that there would be a lot of crossover. But, that promise didn't happen. Despite the fact that Agent Coulson, obviously, meant a great deal to the Avengers, they have kept his return from the dead a secret which seemed odd considering that Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye worked for the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization and, at the same time, Coulson was coming across characters such as Lady Sif (Jamie Alexander) from the Thor movies who know the Avengers. You'd think somebody would have bumped into him or learned of his return through rumor.

At the end of the first season, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had an opportunity to show #ItsAllConnected. This corresponded with the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier which, interestingly enough, through the machinations of Hydra, took down the very organization the show is about. It made for some compelling episodes which ended with Samuel L. Jackson making an appearance as Nick Fury to name Phil Coulson the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. This is where things become strange because now you'd think, at the very least, Coulson would appear somewhere in the movies to let the very people he's admired and put together as a team what's going on with S.H.I.E.L.D. I mean, we get why Robert Downey, Jr. or Chris Evans couldn't show up on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but it would make absolute sense for Coulson to crossover once in awhile. Especially since the advent of the Inhumans that he'd turn to the Avengers to help train their new enhanced humans. In fact, it would even make sense for Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennett) to appear in the movies because, in the comics, she has been an Avenger.

Anyway, its sad the glue that once binded the Marvel Cinematic Universe is no longer involved. It is nice, though, that he, Melinda May, and Fitz and Simons have become part of the Marvel Comics Universe.

But, take heart, there is another character that also serves as the glue in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Captain America's love interest, SSR Agent and Co-Founder of S.H.I.E.L.D. She made her first appearance in Captain America: The First Avenger and showed us that sistahs are doin' it for themselves. She was a no nonsense woman who refused to be talked down to, but not so stereotypically tough that she couldn't open her heart to Steve Rogers.

Peggy proved to be so popular and, I think, a favorite of both Marvel Studios Co-Presidents Kevin Feige and Louis D'Esposito. And, so, the Agent Carter Marvel One-Shot was born which showed Peggy living in a post-World War II era when men came back from war and women were expected to go back to being housewives. And, so, Peggy went to prove this sexism wrong by being smart, kicking butt and eventually being chosen to found S.H.I.E.L.D.

This One-Shot then led to Agent Carter getting her own show on ABC with Feige and D'Esposito being executive producers. Unlike Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter had some stellar hands on it, including Captain America (all 3 films) writers Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely as series creators and Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, and Chris Dingess serving as showrunners. I think this has allowed her to crossover in a way that Phil Coulson could not longer do.

We, of course, first saw her in her later years in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. She was in her 90s suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. But, she had a beautiful moment with Captain America and it was clear that Steve still had in her in his heart even to the end when she passed in her sleep in Captain America: Civil War. While this is sad to see such a beloved character go, it also tells us that she had a very long career working for S.H.I.E.L.D. And, this opens the door to bringing her back for more stories in other movies.

One such appearance was in Ant-Man where we see an older Peggy Carter in the 1980s. She's still very much involved with S.H.I.E.L.D. What's interesting is that I've read some people saying that stories of Peggy Carter are over because of her death in Captain America: Civil War. But, to me, her appearance in Ant-Man says this is just the beginning. That there are so many stories to be told beyond the 1940s and I hope we'll be able to see her.

I'm saddened that Agent Carter was canceled and that we don't get to see her adventures on television. While I'm hoping we see her appear more often in the MCU, I want to see the early days of S.H.I.E.L.D. under her command which would lend itself better to a serialized approach. There is a campaign and petition to bring Peggy to Netflix where Marvel series seem to be flourishing. I am supporting it and hope it happens. Again, there are so many stories to be told. So, be sure to sign the petition and/or write Netflix individually to let them know how you feel! 


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