Continuing our Countdown to Avengers, I thought it would be worth taking a look at the two Agent Coulson shorts that appear on the Thor and Captain America Blu-rays. I do not believe they are on the DVDs, but I could be mistaken about that.
Each of these are about 3-4 minutes long and serve to "fill in the gaps." Well, at least that's been the claim. That's certainly the case for the first one, but more on the second one in a bit.
Way back when Iron Man and Incredible Hulk first came out, the producers of the movie were sort of shooting in the dark and trying to use the post-credits scenes to get the ball rolling on a shared universe. Iron Man introduced the idea of the Avengers Initiative and introduced us to Nick Fury. In Incredible Hulk, the final scene (what I believe was originally intended for a post-credits scene) shows Tony Stark meeting General Ross in a bar and beginning a dialogue. What went on in-between Iron Man and Hulk was somewhat of a mystery. In fact, based on the Hulk scene, it seemed as though Tony agreed to join the initiative and was already out doing stuff for Fury.
Iron Man 2 comes along and Director John Favreau decides to pick up Tony's story before the scene in the bar. In fact Tony has turned down Fury's request and it takes a whole chunk of the movie to convince Tony to give these guys the time of day. And even at the end of the movie, things are still a little unclear as to what Tony's relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. actually is. So why Tony would show up in a bar and talk to Ross made little sense.
So in the first of the Coulson shorts, entitled "The Consultant," Coulson meets another agent at a diner to discuss current Avengers roster issues. The World Security Council has requested that Blonsky (Abomination) be put on the team but SHIELD does not want him. However, in order to make good with the WSC, they have to at least ask General Ross for him. So they come up with the idea of sending Stark to go ask, someone so pompous and off-putting that Ross would never say yes to the request.
The four minute short is about 2.5 minutes of two guys sitting in a diner, half a minute of clips from Hulk, and almost a full minute of credits. But, it does answer the Hulk end scene and release it from needing to be a part of The Avengers movie.
The second Coulson short takes place between Iron Man 2 and Coulson's arrival on the scene in Thor. The plot of this short is that Coulson is in a gas station when it is suddenly held up. Coulson quickly and easily dispatches the would-be robbers, buys some Little Debbie donuts, finishes filling up his car with Roxxon gas, and leaves. This four minute short is actually about 2 minutes 40 seconds once you factor out credits and other than introducing us to Roxxon, seemingly does little to advance the Avengers storyline. My supposition is that the point of this short is to set the stage for some good Coulson action in the Avengers movie.
I like Coulson and it seems I'm not alone in that. However, Coulson cannot carry his own movie and will likely only ever be a supporting character to advance the plot. I doubt his role in Avengers will be all that large. That said, I think Whedon loves him and has spoken highly of the actor. My guess is that if any hero dies in the movie, it will be Coulson...but I have no idea if that's truly going to be the case. That's not a spoiler, just a guess.