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Agent Phil Coulson ([personal profile] somethingtoavenge) wrote2012-07-10 09:32 am
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Character

Name: Agent Philip Coulson of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics division.
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Gender: Male
Age: Late 30's to Early/Mid 40's
Time Period: Directly after his last appearance in the Avengers
Wing Color: Black with white stripes.

Personality 2.0
Coulson is a man who works for the shadiest paramilitary organization in the world (that isn't obliquely bent on world domination), yet can still believe in heroes.

The Agent of SHIELD, Coulson is nearly always calm, cool and collected. He deals with the unusual on a almost daily basis and does his best to never be surprised. It's Coulson job to be unflappable in the face of the weird, bizarre, and downright rude. In many cases, all three.

Fury's right hand man, (along with Hill), Coulson works with the outsiders, while Hill runs SHIELD and Fury oversees both and works with the World Security Council. Coulson is the man the leader of SHIELD has put his trust in when dealing with large personalities and unknown factors, giving him free reign to do what he thinks is best, such as dealing with Thor and his radioactive sky hammer in New Mexico. While entirely likely Coulson was communicating with Fury, he still had the final say in everything, and the power to act quickly when rapid action was needed, like when Thor broke into the SHIELD compound. It was entirely in his power to have Hawkeye shoot Thor, but he held off instead choosing to see how the situation played out. He deals with SHIELDs outside assets because he doesn't care whether you are a Genius-Billionaire-Playboy-Philanthropist or an Asgardian alien, Coulson will tell you what's what.

Like any good second-in-command, Coulson does genuinely care for the people under his command, putting their lives ahead of things which can be replaced. This means having to be aware of the situation at all times, so as to best direct his people to where they are needed and what places to avoid. In the end he values people over objects, no matter how important the object might be to SHIELD. Coulson knows that objects can be replaced, while people cannot. To make sure his people are safe, Coulson thinks of all the details, making sure each one is accounted for, and contingencies are in place, such as the placement of Doctor Foster out of Loki's easy reach once danger to her was recognized. This was done even before Thor returned to Earth, and without the knowledge that Thor would return to earth. Of course this served two purposes; One in that if Thor did return to Earth, Dr. Foster would not be in Loki's clutches, and secondly it prevented Loki from getting his hands on another expert in astrophysics who had been studying the Bifrost (the Einstein-Rosen Bridge). From the discussion with Thor regarding her well being in "The Avengers", it is easy to see that Coulson personally planned to move Jane Foster into protective care.
Coulson makes a point to listen to everyone he meets, hearing what they are telling him and what they are not telling him. That doesn't mean Coulson can't be surprised as he is only human like with the Destroyer in "Thor", and the power of the Tesseract in "The Avengers."

Phil Coulson is fully aware of who he works for and what they do; however he doesn't completely approve of the methods or the contingency plans in place which is why he believe so fully in the Avengers initiative. He trusts Fury to do what's best for the Earth, but he knows that sometimes that can come at a high cost, and is willing to make that sacrifice. Even if it means taking away a brilliant scientists life work, or trying to stop a egomaniacal pseudo-god with an untested weapon, or disregarding his own personal set of standards.

Coulson has dogged determination to do what he thinks is right, and the courage to face overwhelming odds while also being humble enough to not draw attention to his own actions. He works diligently to help people who are better suited then himself for certain things, but is willing to sacrifice himself when he can see no other alternative. It is a delicate balancing act, Coulson's determination and his duties to SHIELD. What is right, is not what is always best in a situation.

It should be noted here that Coulson is an unapologetic workaholic. So much of his life is based on his work. His idea of relaxation is watching "Supernanny" and doing paperwork. While he had a life before SHIELD, once he joined SHIELD it became his life. He is extremely dedicated to SHIELD because he believes in what they are doing. Coulson cannot morally agree with all the actions that are taken, but he is familiar with sacrifices for the greater good.

A sacrifice is he familiar with on a personal level are his relationships outside of work. In "The Avengers" you learn of one relationship, the cellist. Based on the conversation with Pepper Potts, it seems to have come to an end. Considering that Pepper Potts doesn't know the name of the cellist implies that the relationship hasn't been happening for a long period of time before it ended. While there are other explanation, the fact is we never see Coulson outside of SHIELD business. This would obviously infringe on the time needed to maintain a dedicated relationship with someone who is not a co-worker. There are also the secrets implied by working for a top secret pseudo-military organization which makes any partner, other than a co-worker, out of the loop on where Coulson might be at any moment, or the where and why behind disappearing at unusual hours.

Coulson isn't likely to pursue a relationship with a co-worker (possible fraternization regulations aside) because he is so high in the chain of command and the implications of a relationship with a subordinate are never good. However, it is not completely impossible as long as whoever he had a relationship with could understand that work is work and personal is personal.

As an agent of SHIELD Coulson has seen quite a lot; but there are still things which can send this harden agent for a loop. Such as the Tesseracts destructive power, or is childhood hero alive and well.
Coulson's delighted fan boy reaction to Captain America shows just how human the man is. Talking to his hero is enough to fluster the calm man and have him make some weird verbal faux pas. However, even then he doesn't fully let go of his job and when the good Captain starts to express his doubts about his usefulness Coulson is quick to sincerely reassure him that he is needed. It goes beyond a fan reassuring an idol that they are perfect, or a commander reassuring that a soldier is still useful.

Fury could have reassured Steve Rogers that he was still needed, but it would not of had the same impact, as Fury simply respects the man. Coulson views him as a hero, not only for his abilities but also for his flaws. While it is true that most things about Captain America when Coulson was growing up would have been whitewashed to be child appropriate and therefore avoided the man behind the shield, it shouldn't be forgotten that Coulson is not the child he was. Yes, Captain America was his hero. The fact that he still is, after Coulson is an adult who has seen the best and worst of the world, shows that Coulson knows Captain America is also just Steve Rogers. But he is a man who did his best, did what he could that no one else could and became a hero. Coulson reassurance, though perhaps not fully recognized by Steve, was genuine belief and faith that Captain America, that Steve Rogers was needed.

In most conversations Coulson is very deadpan and uses some subtle snark when not being blandly interested, or playing the polite government lackey. He also tends to us short sentences when talking, getting across as much information as he can in the smallest period of time. The only time this isn't visible is when he is delivering threats.. It's hard to tell when he is joking and when he is not, as his face doesn't betray him. That isn't to say he is expressionless. In fact there are many subtle expression he may use, but the fact of the matter is when someone is paying attention to him, Coulson controls his expressions very well. It is when he doesn't think he has anyone attention on him that his face and body language relax to show some of his true emotions. For example is the scene on the bridge of the Helicarrier, the confrontation between Fury and Thor. When Fury asks what is Thor prepared to do, Coulson ducks his head, but not before discomfort is visible on his face. The further implications of that particular reaction are quite interesting.

When Fury goes and confronts the Avengers in the lab, Coulson isn't with him. It could be that he is overseeing the Helicarrier while Fury deals with them, but Coulson is the one who normally deals with the volatile personalities. It is interesting that he does not this time when his skills at dealing with tense situations would be the most useful. Most likely he refused to confront the Avengers alone or with Fury. This is because he knows exactly what SHIELD is prepared to do to Loki and even though it might protect the earth, he finds it wrong. His lack of presence during the key confrontation between SHIELD and the Avengers is a silent but poignant protest against SHIELD's plans and against keeping the truth from the Avengers.

While his job means he interacts with many visible personalities what really makes Coulson is his ability to be a face in the crowd. He does not stand out and he does not draw attention to himself. Coulson is the ultimate background character, taking care of things so the heroes can focus on the main problem at hand.

Strengths:

Physical - Coulson is a SHIELD Agent. While certainly not up to Black Widow levels of ass-kicking, he does have SHIELD training, works for and with some of the most terrifying people on the planet and has their respect. We see him in action in the Marvel Short "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer". He is easily able to toss a 2 or 5 pound bag of flour with enough force that is explodes on impact into someone's face from a few yards away (try that at home. It's not that easy to do), close in quickly and jump to the second shelf, jump off that, aim well enough to hit the guy' shotgun down with his foot, land easily, grab the shotgun and take down both gunmen by hitting them with it. All without breaking a sweat. Yeah, Phil Coulson can definitely hold his own on the physical front.

Emotional - While not actually an emotionless automaton, Coulson is very good at not showing his true emotional reaction. Instead Coulson uses a series of polite, bland expressions to mask his emotional reactions. Somehow, Coulson is also an optimist who believes in heroes, even though he works for SHIELD. His ability to keep calm in the face on the unexpected is in part because he is emotionally stable. Yes, he makes difficult choices in his line of work, but he has also come to term with that fact. In the triumvirate of power which is Fury - Coulson - Hill, he is the one who has managed to hold onto his sense of right, a belief in hero's, and maintain a relatively optimistic outlook on humanity. Even when dealing with Tony Stark, unbending generals (General Ross), and the press. It's rather impressive.

Mental - Coulson is able to think tactically, especially when it comes to taking down opponents, whether physically with a bag of flour, or mentally with a well-placed comment. Has no qualms about issuing threats, and though he has never had to go through with threats in canon, never doubt the fact that he would. Even when the odds are against him, Coulson will still do his best to stop threats, even if there is the chance he will die. He also acknowledges the fact that he has weakness which he cannot surpass and to cover for them he has to rely on other people. Coulson believes in teams and relying on others when you cannot do something alone. He knows he is not the smartest, strongest, richest, most badass, deadliest, etc. Agent of SHIELD. However, Coulson accepts that fact and instead tries his best to support everyone else and doe the best he can at all that he does. Has an unshakable belief in hero's.

Weaknesses:

Physical - Sadly human and middle-aged. Not quite as quick or strong as he was at his peak condition. Also, not exactly physically imposing, so it's easy to think of him as a pencil-pusher instead of a fully-trained and active SHIELD agent. Also, working for SHIELD hasn't been easy on his body, and he certainly has the expected scars, and repetitive injuries associated with dangerous field work. These also affect his physical condition, and leave him at risk of re-injuring himself if he pushes to far past his limits.

Emotional - Giddy as a school girl in the presence of Captain America, which while strangely adorable, isn't the picture of Perfect SHIELD agent Coulson wants to portray. Subtle emotional tells on his face when reacting to news, but rarely when someone is looking at him, making it hard to read him. While emotional stable and at peace with the choices he makes, he can have moments of self-doubt. It's only natural when having to balance between the work you love and the standards you set for yourself and your actions. Also it takes him time to come to terms with his choices, and he never lets on when he is struggling with himself. An inability to maintain a steady relationship because of letting work take precedence over his relationship makes him less likely to try and keep a relationship going after the first rough patch like when he refuse Starks offer to fly him out to see the cellist he had been dating. While that was not the best timing, nor a place where he'd want to discuss his private life, Coulson could of said We'll see instead of the flat out refusal. A deep need to keep his personal life, personal. Explains the lack of knowledge about Coulson outside of his work at SHIELD.

Mental - He is only human. No matter how much he tries to plan for all the details, he can't account for all of them. Frustrated easily if left out of an information loop which he thinks he should be a part of ("He never tells me anything."). All too willing to make sacrifices for immediate wellbeing of the Earth. Makes verbal faux pas when flustered, which end up being really creepy. Numb to the sounds of violence. A workaholic, never really not working even when he returns home. Unable to keep work out of his personal life, no matter what it costs him. Making sure that he's there to support everyone leaves him without much time to self-actualize, stunting his personal growth and marginalizing his own skill set.