What’s the Deal With Coulson?

Posted October 10, 2013 by Chris Donnelly in Entertainment

Tahiti.  A magical place.  Back from the dead.  But how?

Coulson was technically dead, according to Maria Hill and Doctor Shepherd Book (wait what?) but then they can’t let him know what really happened.

But let’s skip past all that because the thing that interests me the most is Phil Coulson’s lack of muscle memory.  So let’s talk about muscle memory, shall we?  You’ve heard the phrase about how you can never forget how to ride a bike.  Well, I can assure you that the same muscle memory that lets you do that, or lets you sign your signature, is the same muscle memory that will let you take apart your firearm without thinking.  (Which, to clarify, Coulson was trying to take apart that gun by removing the slide.)

So let’s talk about other movies with secret agents and muscle memory.  Jason Bourne, when encountered by two cops in some city somewhere (Paris, maybe? I forget) takes out both cops and take apart a gun without thinking.  The scene ends with Bourne looking at the grip and the slide of the pistol, each in a separate hand.  And he did this after he’d forgotten everything.  All he had was muscle memory.

So why doesn’t Phil?

My theory is, that, he does not in fact have that muscle memory.  He has the memory of the muscle memory, but maybe not the same muscles themselves?

That was the moment from The Asset that stood out most clearly to me.  A trained S.H.I.E.L.D. agent should know how to take apart the sidearm he’s carried for years.  I mean, he does clean it regularly, right?  So the reason for that scene to be so prominent in the episode was either a) Coulson is some kind of clone, Life Model Decoy, or other non-real-Coulson-thing (which, with the references to Tahiti, and the “he can never know” line, makes sense), or b) Whedon wanted to push the fact that Coulson wasn’t the same in the field.  Now, I’m leaning more towards answer A, but that’s just my thoughts on the matter.  So why not drop a line and tell me yours?

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About the Author

Chris Donnelly

Chris is a college student living in New Hampshire who spends too much time reading comics and watching television than he does studying. If you mention Firefly to him, he will never shut up. He runs Ubuntu as an OS, and tries to keep up with a comic news and reviews podcast, but school and work sometimes take over.



    I just finished the “The Asset” episode, and immediately jumped online to see if anyone else has pointed this out. I’m leaning towards option A, and honestly, I’m kind of thinking “…it’s a magical place…” actually refers to a magical place, say Valhalla for example. I’m thinking that after his death, Thor did what he could to bring Coulson back and honestly I can’t wait to see Thor 2 to see if there’s going to be any tie-in.


    I tend to agree with Scott on this one, Valhalla maybe, I was thinking maybe still on earth but other worldly power had created a new body for him. I don’t think he’ll turn out to be a robot like some have said. Interestingly enough the IMDB page http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0037737/bio says that “The unknown truth about Coulson is that he himself is an immortal with a 230 IQ.” Whether that will turn out to be true is anyone’s guess.

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