Whenever a comic book is adapted to television, there are going to be changes. Some are subtle, while others are a little more drastic (ie: original character created for the show). A small contingent of viewers want a slavishly faithful, panel-by-panel adaptation, but most fans appreciate a switch up to keep things interesting.
Since Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted in 2013, it has caught a lot of flack. And that’s partly due to not having even one initial cast member be from the comics. Sure, Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson was in some MCU movies, as well as his own Marvel One-Shots, but he still didn’t originate in the comics. While long time S.H.I.E.L.D. readers were hoping for Nick Fury with a squad of grizzled vet agents like Clay Quartermaine and Jimmy Woo to be the basis of this show, we got Agents of Buffy. No really, most of the show’s writers, directors, producers, show runners, and even some cast are Buffy alum. However, to be fair, many of the storylines and characters in Season 2 and 3 (so far) are culled directly from multiple different comic titles and runs. Below, we compare the characters from the comics to their live-action counterparts.
1Agent Phil Coulson
Clark Gregg is the whole reason this show exists. Jon Favreau cast him as Phil Coulson in Iron Man, where he played the go-between for Tony Starks and Nick Fury. He next reprised the role in Thor: The Mighty Avenger and Iron Man II. However, it wasn’t until the one-shots A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor’s Hammer and The Consultant that fans realized how much of a role old Coulson would play in the MCU moving forward. Sure, Joss Whedon had to use all the heroes that had been established in MCU films leading up to The Avengers, but casting Coulson was his choice, and boy did Joss give him a juicy part. His “death” is what pulled the Avengers together in that first film, and his consequent resurrection is the basis for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In 2012, his popularity meant being added to Marvel’s comic universe. He first appeared in Issue #6 of the Battle Scars miniseries, but has since featured in many titles. Put simply, Coulson in the comics is exactly the character Gregg plays in film and TV.