Playing a character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe means you have to be ready for your personal timeline to get twisted up a bit, but few actors in the MCU have had a journey that can compare to Clark Gregg's. He first appeared as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson all the way back in Iron Man, became an integral part of the universe in Iron Man 2 and Thor, sacrificed himself battling Loki in The Avengers, and then somehow became the first MCU star to get his own TV show despite, you know, dying.
Over the course of seven seasons on ABC until its conclusion last year, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. just kept making Coulson's life more complicated, first revealing how he came back to life after The Avengers, then eventually effectively killing him off again, only to then revive him as a Life Model Decoy for one last mission to save not just the world, but time itself. The last time we saw Coulson, he was taking a much-deserved break from adventuring, heading off in his beloved car Lola to see the world and come to grips with his life as an artificial version of the man he once was.
It was a nice sendoff for the character, but now that Coulson (and Gregg) has returned for an appearance in the Disney+ animated series What If…?, fans are wondering yet again: Where's Coulson these days?
"He's no doubt cruising around in his newly upgraded Lola," Gregg told Entertainment Weekly in an interview about his What If…? appearance. "In my fantasy world, he has reunited with some people from that team and they're back at work. And maybe that show will be announced! [Laughs] No, I'm just kidding. There's no show. Let's just break the internet."
If anyone could find their way back after seven seasons of ups and downs, it's Phil Coulson. After all, this is a character who returned not just for an alternate timeline appearance in What If…?, but a flashback appearance in Captain Marvel, and there are constantly rumors floating around that he might someday get to pop up in an MCU movie yet again. Though Gregg noted that he's "heard those rumors" and follows the fan theories as a fan himself, he didn't confirm or deny anything about Coulson's future. What he did say, though, keeps hope alive that we haven't seen the last of him.
"I'm so grateful for just the chance to show up every once in a while to do this stuff," he said. "I can't wait to see The Eternals; I can't wait to see Shang-Chi. I just love the way they're expanding [the MCU]. If there's ever a moment when me or my alter ego can be of use and participate in any of that, I would be thrilled but right now I'm just enjoying it as a fan."