I'll assume that if you're reading this, you've either seen The Avengers, or haven't seen it but you don't care about having a major character's death spoiled for you. (After all, it's right there in the title.) Spoilers from now on...
I had a chance to speak with Clark Gregg recently, and he called in "an honor" to be killed off in the service of bringing The Avengers together on screen. You can check out my interview with Gregg here, but io9 spoke with writer/director Joss Whedon about the same topic. In a recent Reddit Q&A session, Whedon expressed disdain for being referred to as "the guy who kills people" in his films. io9 wondered, if that's the case, when why kill off Agent Coulson? Here's what Whedon said:
In our first meeting Kevin Feige said, this is what we're gonna do and I said, 'Oh but you have to go out there and tell everybody that it was your idea because this is going to get me so much shit. Because they are all going to be like, 'Oh he did it again!' It was stipulated from the beginning, and I completely agree that it was the right thing to do, and so did Clark. Who said in the early days, when I was busy apologizing for it, 'In a movie like this, with what's going on if there isn't some toll, it's just irresponsible story telling.'
It's kind of cool to know that the whole thing was Feige's idea and that Coulson's death was pre-established as a big part of the reason the team ultimately ends up coming together in The Avengers. It shows a true commitment to characters and storytelling by building up Phil Coulson for all of these movies and then using him to raise the stakes like that when it matters the most. Kudos to Marvel for pulling off an amazing movie, and kudos to Whedon, Feige, and Gregg for coming up with and executing a shocking moment in the film that we'll all remember for a long time.
What did you think about Coulson's death in The Avengers? Did you see it coming?