In the aftermath of The Avengers, Marvel launched its first MCU television venture with Agents of SHIELD starring Clark Gregg's Phil Coulson leading a new team of spies. Over the course of seven seasons, the ABC series dived into all corners of the comic book world between the Inhumans, Ghost Rider, time and space travel, as well as frequent crossovers to the latest MCU releases.
When Marvel Studios took the lead on the MCU's TV projects as the focus shifted to Disney+, Agents of SHIELD was unfortunately forced to end after seven action-packed seasons. Up until recently, the series was streaming on Netflix domestically, but the MCU spin-off has finally made the move to Disney+ alongside "The Defenders Saga."
Having built its own strong fan-base over its seven-year run, many are eager to see the heroes and villains of Agents of SHIELD return to the MCU. With Marvel Studios developing such a wide variety of projects for Phase 4 and beyond, there are endless opportunities for Coulson and the gang to appear once again.
Coulson's Big Comeback
Having died at the hands of Loki in The Avengers, Agent Phil Coulson made his big comeback in Agents of SHIELD. Technically, the legendary SHIELD agent has died by the end of the Marvel series, but an advanced life model decoy (LMD) replica continues to roam the world with all of his memories.
Given the sophistication of this replica, the LMD Coulson could play a role in the future of the MCU and potentially have the reunion with the Avengers many have waited for. Although unfortunately most of Coulson's Avenging friends have now departed the MCU, with Thor, Hulk, and Hawkeye, being the only original heroes left.
LMD Coulson is currently believed to be traveling the world in his flying 1962 Chevrolet Corvette, Lola, so who knows who he could bump into along the way. Perhaps he could even pop up to help with the Skrull invasion in Secret Invasion, a show all about the MCU's spies.
A young Coulson did appear in Captain Marvel and was even impersonated by a Skrull, which was ultimately killed by Nick Fury. The SHIELD spy's Skrull history makes him the perfect candidate for a role in Secret Invasion, either to be replaced once again or perhaps even turn out to have been an alien imposter all along.
SWORD and the Inhumans
Following the end of Agents of SHIELD, Inhuman hero Quake is adventuring into space with her redeemed sister Kora and World War 2 SSR agent Daniel Sousa. There was no real context given as to what the trio was doing in space, but perhaps they may be working for Nick Fury or SWORD, leading to a possible Secret Invasion role.
Marvel Studios is reportedly developing a Secret Warriors movie or Disney+ series and Chloe Bennet's Quake remains the popular choice to lead the team, as her comic counterpart does. Yo-Yo Rodriguez aka Slingshot has also served as a frequent member of the roster, potentially making this the perfect avenue to reunite the duo along with the series' other Inhuman stars.
For now, and for unknown reasons, Kevin Feige appears hesitant to include the Inhumans in the MCU. The once-planned Inhumans movie ended up being passed off to television and there are no indications of them coming back anytime soon. Unfortunately, this may prove a significant obstacle in Quake and other Inhuman heroes returning, but perhaps they could return with no mention of their origins.
Fitz and Simmons
Fitz and Simmons were a genius duo of SHIELD scientists who worked together for years before finally getting together and starting a family. Being such smart scientists, the opportunities for them to appear in the wider MCU to help out with various complex problems are truly limitless.
One avenue for Fitz especially to return could come in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. During the final season of Agents of SHIELD, the genius engineer figured out how to use the Quantum Realm to facilitate time travel, just like Tony Stark did in Avengers: Endgame.
Given the focus that Quantumania will have on the micro-sized realm and on time travel, Fitz could make a worthwhile inclusion, perhaps as a friend of Hank Pym's who can help him solve an issue.
Mack's New SHIELD
After SHIELD fell in Captain America: The Winter Soldier - which takes place in sync with the latter episode of Agents of SHIELD Season 1 - Coulson replaced Fury as director and worked to rebuild the fallen organization.
Six seasons of ups and downs later, SHIELD was back to its prime with helicarriers back in the skies and operations resuming around the world. Former engineer Alphonso "Mack" Mackenzie is now at the helm as director, and it's only a matter of time before SHIELD plays a role in the MCU once again.
On top of Mack working as the director, Inhuman speedster Slingshot is still working on the ground for SHIELD, meaning either of the pair could show up at any point.
SWORD is currently the main top-secret government organization working within the MCU, but Marvel Comics has always had room for both with SHIELD focussed on global operations compared to its intergalactic counterpart.
Just as it once did, SHIELD could truly show up anywhere, but projects like Captain America 4, Armor Wars, and Ironheart are the most conceivable areas for the spy powerhouse to take an interest in.
Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse made quite the romantically-charged duo of rogue SHIELD agents throughout the series and even came close to spawning their own spin-off.
Morse is typically better known under the heroic alias of Mockingbird, someone with close romantic ties to Clint Barton's Hawkeye. The archer's Disney+ series recently teased his wife Laura Barton as having once been the MCU's Mockingbird.
Perhaps once Barton retired from SHIELD to raise a family with Clint, Morse took over her existing mantle to become the new Mockingbird. Laura and Bobbi could even be related, after all her maiden name has never been mentioned and the recent reveal offers a strong chance it could be Morse.
Given the Mockingbird connection, perhaps Morse and Hunter could pop up to help Clint and Kate Bishop in the unannounced but highly likely second season of Hawkeye.
The super-powered cyborg Deathlok aka Mike Peterson was among the standouts of Agents of SHIELD, starting off as a HYDRA threat before going on to become a SHIELD agent himself and later leaving to pursue his own heroic mission.
In the early 1990s, Marvel was looking to develop a Deathlok movie, perhaps the character could now get another shot at stardom in the MCU on Disney+. A spy action flick starring a cyborg superhero would no doubt be a hit with audiences and Peterson actor J. August Richards absolutely has the acting chops to carry his own project.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Captain America 4 writer Malcolm Spellman shared his interest in bringing Deathlok back to the MCU, so maybe Sam Wilson's patriotic hero will run into the cyborg on his next big-screen adventure.
Gabriel Luna's Robbie Reyes became the MCU's first Ghost Rider in Agents of SHIELD Season 4. The Spirit of Vengeance later went on to spawn plans for his own mature series at Hulu which never saw the light of day due to the Marvel Studios television takeover.
With projects like Moon Knight, Blade, and Werewolf by Night beginning to introduce the supernatural branch of the MCU, Ghost Rider looks to be right around the corner for theaters or Disney+.
Many have donned the Ghost Rider mantle over the years including Johnny Blaze, Robbie Reyes, and Danny Ketch. With a number of actors in contention for the leading role, which is expected to be Blaze, there's no reason Luna's Reyes couldn't join him after the series strongly implied Blaze was the one to pass the mantle to him.
Do the Agents of SHIELD Have an MCU Future?
There are clearly endless possibilities for where the Agents of SHIELD could show up in the MCU down the line, but what it comes down to is whether Kevin Feige is as eager as fans to see these spies and heroes once again.
Familiar faces such as Lady Sif, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and more made appearances over the course of Agents of SHIELD, but none of the cast has ever shown up in the rest of the MCU and no events have ever been referenced.
But the same was true of Daredevil up until recently, and now Matt Murdock has appeared in Spider-Man: No Way Home at the same time Kingpin popped up on Hawkeye. Much of the cast has already shared interest in reprising their roles and still mention the series on social media to this day, so the chances that at least some returns are high.
Granted, the team will almost certainly never be seen assembled together again as a reunion looks unlikely, but there may be the odd role for some fan favorites.
Agents of SHIELD is streaming now on Disney+.