Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 7 premieres later this month, beginning the end of the long-running Marvel Cinematic Universe spin-off show. Lead actor Clark Gregg has anchored the show for all seven seasons, even predating it as one of the characters who launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008’s Iron Man. Now, with his character’s actual ending on the horizon (after several false deaths and resurrections), Gregg sees another way for Coulson to keep going once his show ends – Marvel’s burgeoning Multiverse.
“This seems like a real good time to announce that … I really don’t know. [Laughs] Sorry! That was a little bit of quarantine sadism. I don’t know anything!” Gregg joked to Variety when discussing whether Coulson could return again, before opening a door to the idea. “It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where I’d say, ‘No, I’m too busy to put on whatever the latest version of the suit is and go play Phil Coulson.’ I’m always thrilled when I see them changing timelines and exposing a multiverse in the cinematic [universe]. Because I think, ‘Well, I’ve seen scenarios where I could be around!’ So I really learned with this character to never say never, but I’m also really grateful for the ride that we had.”
Marvel’s Multiverse was first introduced in 2016’s Doctor Strange, and has since become a crucial aspect of the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the Doctor Strange sequel, In the Multiverse of Madnesss, planned to draw in threads from the Multiverse-centric Avengers: Endgame as well as Disney+’s reportedly mindbending Loki and WandaVision series. A Multiverse-style solution could also play a part in resolving Marvel and Sony’s current shared control of Spider-Man in movies.
As for how the Multiverse might play in to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Gregg himself spoke to Variety about how the corporate separation between Marvel Television and Marvel Studios during the show’s run affected its connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, acknowledging that at a certain point Agents stopped aligning with the overall MCU, saying the show wasn’t “tied too closely to all that” following season 4.
“When you look back at Season 1, and you look at the way it crossed over with Hydra and took the handcuffs off our poor writers when everyone was like ‘What is this show?’ — and Sam [Jackson] and Cobie Smulders came to play — I thought that was really thrilling. I missed that part of it, but I also felt like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. really continued to evolve,” he confessed. “And once they got to Season 4, and there were three separate pods [of episodes] — Ghost Rider, LMDs, and the Framework — I thought this is what happens when these gutsy writers aren’t tied too closely to all that. They get to really just tear it apart and start it over with a new corner of the Marvel Universe every season, sometimes two or three times in a season.”
Gregg also opened up about the idea of taking a shot at a higher budget Marvel show, a la the planned Disney+ series, saying he’d love a chance to make a show with such resources.
“Um. [Laughs] I don’t know specifically what kind of resources those [shows] are getting. I will say, as someone who loves storytelling and television, it’s been exciting to watch — from Watchmen to Game of Thrones — what’s being done cinematically on what used to be called TV,” Gregg explained. “So in fairness, the world really changed around us. I was always proud of us for being the first ones through the door in terms of the Marvel stuff, trying to bring that to a weekly television format. I feel like ABC did a great job of trying to adapt to us as we tried to adapt to them.
“But I’d be lying if I didn’t say boy, that would really be interesting to start the experiment over, doing 10 episodes or 12 episodes the way Tom Hiddleston told me he was doing [on Loki] with that kind of budget and that Marvel Cinematic production team. Although, it’s hard for me to even think about that, just because I’m so proud of what our crew and visual effects people and cast did within the constraints of our budgets and resources.”