While I was at Wizard Con in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, I attended the “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” panel with Elizabeth Henstridge and Brett Dalton. One of the audience members asked them a question that the simply could not answer, except to say, “I don’t know.”
In essence, the question was; “Do the Avengers know that Agent Coulson is alive? And if not, will they ever?”
This is a great question, and one that begs a scene in which the Avengers happen upon that minor tidbit of information.
How would they react?
I jokingly tweeted to the two of them that I would draft that scene for them so they knew how it would turn out, and I finally got some time to do it. However, since I don’t normally write in screenplay format, I figured that I would try to just “prose out” how that encounter goes down.
It’s quick. It’s dirty. It’s not perfect, but I think… I hope… you’ll like where’s it’s going.
The sun blazed through the floor-to-ceiling windows, bathing the conference room in its late afternoon glory. Seven figures sat around the table in the center of the room. Six faced the windows, speaking in hushed tones in groups of two or three.
“Hey, guys? I designed these windows to dim on command, so… how about we command it? I can barely see over here. I feel like I’m being interrogated. What’s next? Waterboarding? Come on, some of us still have both our eyes. Chop chop!”
A black-gloved finger stabbed at a control pad, and the windows dimmed to near opacity. The interior lights faded up automatically to compensate for the loss of the natural lighting, coming to rest at a comfortable level.
“There, see? Was that so hard?”
“Shut up, Stark,” Nick Fury said, pushing himself up out of his chair.
“Why are here, again?” Tony Stark asked, propping his feet up on the table for barely a second before dropping them back to the floor and drumming his fingers on the tabletop. “I don’t see any aliens invading. S.H.I.E.L.D. is gone. Captain Rogers blew it all to hell, remember?”
Fury pressed another button, and a holo-display powered up in the center of the table.
“Old news, Stark. And whatever… disagreement… the Captain and I might have had about all that is now water under the bridge. We have a bigger problem.”
Stark gasped. “Bigger than a decades-old, Nazi-based, occult-worshipping spy agency infiltrating and destroying your decades-old spy agency?”
Stark swung his gaze to his right.
“Agent Romanov. How’s life as a double-agent been treating you?”
“Since I testified for Congress, business has been slow.” She pouted her lips and tilted her head, adopting a sarcastic tone. “It’s tough to go deep undercover when you’re the face of the S.H.I.E.L.D. debacle in the media. Between gigs with you guys, I basically wait around doing nothing.” She batted her eyes at him.
“Somehow, I doubt you can do ‘nothing’ for more than a couple days without getting the itch to kill some—”
“Stark!” Thor’s baritone cut him off. “Agent Romanov is an Avenger, and your incessant petulance is growing tiresome.”
“Wow!” Tony’s head jerked back in surprise. “The Mighty Thor calling me petulant. That’s rich. Destroy any worlds for fun, lately, Fabio?”
Thor’s grip on Mjolnir’s haft tightened, charging the air and bringing the hair on Stark’s arms to attention.
“I’d appreciate it if we could maybe dial down the aggression level in here.”
Heads turned to the figure sitting quietly at the far end of their assemblage. His fingers were intertwined in front of him on the table, his eyes were focused on them.
“You okay, Bruce?” Captain America asked from a few seats away.
“I’ll live,” he replied, a wry smirk crossing his face. “You guys, though…”
“That’s enough! Like I said, we have a bigger problem. Even bigger than your ego, Stark.”
“Shut up, William Tell.”
“There is a situation in central Africa,” Fury continued, unperturbed. “As you know, Cap, your old pal, Adolph loved to dig around in the dirt, especially in Africa. Always looking for something or other he could hold up as proof of Aryan superiority.”
The holo-display projected map of Africa above the table.
“We’ve seen this movie, Fury.”
“Well, consider this the sequel, then,” Fury said evenly.
“What’s the deal, Boss?” Natasha asked, peering at the map projection for some sort of clue.
“I’ll let our point man bring you up to speed. He should already be here.”
“Does he know what he’s getting into with this group?” Banner asked, finally raising his eyes from his hands.
“I think so. After S.H.I.E.L.D. fell, he kept a group of agents together to continue the mission, even though they were on the run most of the time.” Fury looked around the room. “He might be familiar.”
The rattle of a doorknob and the click of shoes crossing the floor behind them announced his arrival. The crisp, black suit rounded the table with a jovial “Sorry I’m late, boss. Couldn’t find a spot for Lola.”
The clatter of chairs and a cacophony of raised voices engulfed the room in disbelief as the new arrival looked them over.
“They seem a bit edgy, boss.”
“Seeing a ghost will do that, Phil.”
“Are you serious?” Stark’s voice finally penetrated the wall of sound. “He’s alive? Do you know—” he blustered and coughed. “Do you know how distraught Pepper was? She cried for weeks! She wouldn’t cry that long if I died!”
“It’s nice to be missed, Mr. Stark, but I think—”
“And you people wonder why I don’t trust anyone, Fury,” Banner said, shaking his head and stepping away from the table and toward the door.
“Wow,” was all that Captain America could muster, falling back into his chair after his initial bluster.
“To Valhalla and back, then, son of Coul? I do not understand how, but I am pleased to see you.”
“How did I not see this coming?” the Black Widow asked no one in particular.
“No way. Nuh-uh. I ain’t buying it,” Stark said again, waving his finger between Coulson and Fury. “No way. What is this? Life Model Decoy? That the plan, Fury? Suck us in with a robot wearing a familiar face? Get us all boo-hooey and maudlin so we dance to your tune? Not me, pal. No way. Coulson is DEAD!”
“I was. Trust me when I say that I was more than a little… confused… when I figured it out, too. Turns out that resurrection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
The door closed behind Banner.
“Romanov, get Banner back in here. We’ve got work to do.”
“And a lot of explaining,” she said, exiting the door in pursuit.
“I gotta call Pepper,” Stark said, whipping his phone from his jacket pocket and exiting as well.
The room fell quiet for a moment.
“How you doing, Phil?”
“Not bad, Clint. How’s the family?”
“They’re good. You shouldn’t have spent so much on the kid’s Christmas presents, though. They’re spoiled enough.”
“Ahh. You’re only a kid once. Let them enjoy it while they can.”
“You knew about this?!” cried Captain America.
“Ye-ah. How did you not?”
“Ha!” cried Thor. “Odin’s beard, but this is a great day!”