So I noticed the updates to The Avengers Second Screen App today and of course I went right for the newly opened Phil Coulson personal file.
Upper left hand corner. They list him as ‘Inactive’. Not deceased. Not terminated. ‘Inactive’.
At first glance the ‘Inactive’ tag makes sense. But then, there’s that vague wording again surrounding an event that should have been cut and dry. Fury says “down”. They simply “miss him” in the Item 47 short.
Sure the wording sounds unnecessarily vague. But maybe that’s it. Perhaps the App lists him as ‘Inactive’ as to not give away what happens. But it’s clear The Avengers Second Screen App is meant to be viewed during or after watching the movie, not before. They use “was” and past tense all over Coulson’s file. You can tell right off SOMETHING happens to him and it’s not a promotion. You’re either meant to view the App after you’ve seen what happens to him or this damn thing just spoiled the shit out of a pivotal scene for anyone coming in fresh.
Then I went back to one of the deleted scenes from The Avengers featuring Steve Rogers looking through SHIELD’s records of his former squad. Look at the wording.
Deceased. Big ol’ lettering, plain as day on official SHIELD paperwork. SHIELD has no problem letting you know when someone’s a corpse, and putting it in a plain and simple way. So why is Coulson’s merely tagged as ‘Inactive’?
Furthermore, Peggy’s file is the only file I can clearly make out with the ‘Inactive’ tag. As in, proof you can have the ‘Inactive’ tag and still be ALIVE.
Ok, so while that proves you can have the ‘Inactive” tag and be alive, the same must be true if you’re dead, right? Let’s check a dead person. Here’s a clear shot of Howard Stark’s file.
He’s labeled as ‘Deceased’ and his status in the top right hand corner is… ‘Active’. Huh. How can someone be ‘Active’ and dead at the same time? My theory/guess is ‘Active’ and ‘Inactive’ might have nothing to do with death, but solely their current status in SHIELD, a title that extends posthumously.
Here Peggy is labeled as ‘Inactive’ and ‘Retired’ (under her picture, it’s kind of dark), meaning she retired from SHIELD and thus her SHIELD ID is rendered ‘Inactive’. Howard is labeled as ‘Deceased’ and ‘Active’, meaning he was an active member of SHIELD up until he died. If we follow the same reasoning, Coulson can’t be labeled as ‘Inactive’ and ‘Deceased’ because he was an ‘Active’ SHIELD agent at the time of his ‘death’. He CAN be labeled as ‘Inactive’ and alive if something happened to him to take him out of SHIELD temporarily or permanently.
It’s not a perfect theory, but it’s one that uses more of the terminology/rules that the movie and this universe have already set up, and is a little more concrete than simply “Fury lies”.
*EDITED- To fix a part where I mistakenly said no one said Coulson ‘died’. I had a brain fart. Fury totally does say it to Tony and Steve during the ‘here’s some bloody cards, don’t you two feel like suckas, now work together or I’m going to have to start faking some more people’s deaths, what, don’t look at me like that Maria’ scene. Thanks to erindizmo for catching that.