Going by the Marvel timeline, Agent Phil Coulson dies before the Battle of New York in 2012. However, fans who are familiar with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. know the complete story. This is not all we see of Coulson’s character. He is resurrected, not once but multiple times over the course of Marvel’s show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC.
In The Avengers, Agent Coulson was stabbed to death by Loki, the god of mischief. But when I sit down to count the number of times Agent Coulson has been brought back from the dead, it is not only amusing but confusing, to say the least.
Anyway, coming back to our story. What the Avengers did not know, however, was that Agent Coulson was brought back to life soon after. Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., took the help of the T.A.H.I.T.I. program to heal Coulson’s wounds and change his memories, eventually bringing him back to life.
To sum up, did Agent Coulson really die? Yes. Agent Coulson was stabbed to death by Loki in The Avengers. But, he was brought back in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. when Nick Fury used the T.A.H.I.T.I. program to heal his wounds and bring him back to life.
1. Agent Coulson’s Death: How Did He Die?
In The Avengers, Agent Coulson tries to stop Loki from dropping his brother Thor out of the aircraft, during the Attack of the Helicarrier. The attack turned out to be a successful attempt by Loki to escape the Helicarrier. He then continued his master plan of subjugating earth.
When Coulson tries to stop Loki , he tricks Coulson and fatally injures him. Later, Coulson dies of his fatal wounds.
However, before his death, Coulson tells Nick Fury that the Avengers will never be able to successfully assemble without having something which could serve as an inspiration for their partnership. Later, Fury uses Coulson’s sacrifice as a reason to persuade Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Tony Stark (Iron Man) to assemble and work together.
2. How Was Agent Coulson Resurrected?
Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., is the one behind the resurrection of Phil Coulson. Now, Coulson was dead after the Battle of New York, as you would expect someone as wounded as him to be.
Cut to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airing on ABC: By Fury’s orders, the doctors brought Coulson’s corpse to the Guest House. On which they used a special kind of serum, extracted from the corpse of an alien from Project T.A.H.I.T.I.
The doctors also used a brain-stimulating device to change Coulson’s memories. Since he had lost the will to live, the doctors altered his memories so that he could feel like he was recovering.
3. What Is Project T.A.H.I.T.I.?
Project T.A.H.I.T.I. (Terrestrialized Alien Host Integrative Tissue I.) was a Level 9 project undertaken by the S.H.I.E.L.D. Undertaken with the purpose of creating a medicine that could bring an Avenger back to life, it was the brainchild of Nick Fury and managed by Phil Coulson. It was started in 2009 and located in the Guest House.
It involved the preservation of alien corpses and harvesting them for certain serums which could be used for medicinal purposes. Inside the Guest House, there was a room dedicated to project T.A.H.I.T.I. It had a Kree corpse, from which were extracted bodily fluids with medicinal value and stored in multiple vials.
These vials had different numbers with GH as the prefix, such as GH.211, GH.289, GH.317, etc. Among these, GH.325 in particular had the power of completely regenerating cellular tissue and implanting bits of cellular memory of the host in the receiver.
When Coulson headed Project T.A.H.I.T.I., he realized that the side effects of the whole process on the subjects were too extreme. This led him to resign from his position as the head of the project and to advise that the project be shut down. But evidently, his advice was not followed.
Nick Fury ordered Project T.A.H.I.T.I. to be put into action to bring Agent Coulson back to life after his death by Loki. As a part of the process of resurrection, Coulson’s memories were altered and erased. The memory of his resurrection and the memories of heading Project T.A.H.I.T.I. were wiped off his mind.
4. Who Knows about the Resurrection?
It’s been a while since Agent Coulson appeared on the big screen. His last appearance was in The Avengers, after which he continued his adventures in the show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which apparently the Avengers still aren’t aware of.
However, Clark Gregg, the actor who plays Agent Phil Coulson in the Marvel films, believes that some of the Avengers are aware that his character is still alive. In an interview with Gamespot, Gregg said,
“We know that Nick Fury knows, obviously, we’ve seen him. And I feel like Tony Stark knows things—he just finds a way to know things—but I think the two of them have had a blunt conversation about it and decided not to share it further. And then, we had Lady Sif promise not to tell Thor—but I don’t know how much I believe that. And Maria Hill knows, she’s spent time with him—but I think everyone else is just keeping it a secret.”Clark Gregg
Personally, I believe Gregg’s theory has some substance. Tony Stark definitely has his way of knowing things. Considering the time when S.H.I.E.L.D. was dismantled shortly after what followed the events of The Winter Soldier, Stark singlehandedly took over the functioning of the Avengers. There’s a high chance that Stark already knows about Coulson’s resurrection.
However, Coulson does not return in The Avengers: Endgame. So, it may be that as per the films are concerned, he is dead. After Endgame, it really does not matter if Tony Stark knew that Agent Coulson is alive because our beloved Iron Man is also dead (not to forget, we still do love him 3000).
5. About Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013-2020) is an American television series created by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen. It revolves around the fictional organization S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division), a peacekeeping and spy agency in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) based on the Marvel Comics organization of the same name.
The series, produced by ABC Studios, Marvel Television, and Mutant Enemy Productions stars Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, reprising his role from the film series. Alongside Gregg, the series stars Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet and Iain De Caestecker in the initial seasons. Elizabeth Henstridge, Adrianne Palicki, Henry Simmons, and Jeff Ward are seen in later seasons.
The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents deal with various unusual cases and enemies, including Hydra, Inhumans, Life Model Decoys and alien species such as the Kree and Chronicoms. Several episodes have direct links with MCU films, notably Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) which significantly affected the series in its first season.