Having observed ongoing discussion surrounding the extent of Clark Gregg's involvement in S.H.I.E.L.D. we feel it timely to revisit some of the information we have learned about S.H.I.E.L.D. up to this point.
The initial announcement concerning S.H.I.E.L.D. as a series came from New York Comic Con on October 13, 2012. Joss Whedon appeared via pre-recorded video with the following message:
"We all love Clark Gregg, there's no doubt about that. From before we made 'The Avengers,' we discussed whether there was a way for him to be a part of the Marvel Universe, perhaps a part of a TV show even after his death… The fact of the matter is, as much as we love him, now that I'm really running Marvel, I like to keep a type of artistic integrity, which means we don't stretch the bounds of reality... He's headlining the S.H.I.E.L.D. show and always was." (Quotes via ComicBookResources)
The first casting call information posted a month later included in the show description, "Clark Gregg is playing Agent Phil Coulson, the same role he has played in 'Iron Man I & II,' 'Thor,' and 'The Avengers'. The series will center on his character."
We will assume at this point that individuals interested enough in S.H.I.E.L.D. to be seeking out this website have seen 'The Avengers' and are aware that Coulson succumbed to what appears to be a certain death. We know from comments made by ABC president Paul Lee last week that S.H.I.E.L.D. takes place after the Battle for New York so we are left with the question of "How?"
If we go back to New York Comic Con there may be a clue. Clark Gregg took the stage to talk about the death of Coulson and said, "I just want to say because I won't have another chance to ask this -- 'Have you heard of a Life Model Decoy?' I don't know if you've read the theories from the people on Twitter, but there's this guy called the Vision. I don't know if you saw the UK version of the DVD, but the blade wasn't coming out of his chest. There's a tesseract!" Gregg then went on to say to Marvel's Jeof Leob "All around the globe you can see graffiti, bumper stickers that say 'Coulson Lives!' You have the power, Jeph! I feel like we could make this happen right now!" before the S.H.I.E.L.D. series announcement was made.
(It should be noted that it has been stated the change in the scene was in order to keep the "12" audience rating in the UK)
Do you think the 'Avengers' Coulson was a Life Model Decoy? Will the S.H.I.E.L.D. version be a LMD? Was Clark Gregg simply joking about LMDs? Perhaps you have a different theory altogether, we'd love to hear it!