Agent Coulson is returning to the big screen in Captain Marvel, but his story won’t be complete without Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s fearless Melinda May.
When the full cast list for the highly-anticipated Captain Marvel film was finally released, fans of the MCU had plenty of reason to rejoice. Along with stars Brie Larson and Jude Law, Captain Marvel (which is set back in the 1990’s) will feature the familiar faces of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson.
To the chagrin of many fans, Clark Gregg’s unflappable Agent (now Director) Coulson hasn’t appeared on the movie end of the MCU since his character was skewered by Loki in The Avengers. Coulson’s resurrection on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has gone completely unnoticed by the films, as have the developments of all of the many Marvel television series. (We’ve already been told not to expect any mention of Netflix’s Defenders in the galaxy-spanning Avengers: Infinity War.)
So even if Coulson’s return to the MCU films is consigned to a previous point on the timeline, it’s still a welcome development. But there’s one thing that could make Coulson’s return even sweeter — adding Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na) to Captain Marvel‘s mix.
Captain Marvel needs Melinda May
After ten years of the MCU, Captain Marvel will be the first film to star a female protagonist. (No worries Marvel, we were fine waiting.) But even with that celluloid ceiling shattered, the ladies of Captain Marvel look to be seriously outnumbered by their male counterparts.
In the new cast list, Brie Larson is joined by only three other women — Lashanna Lynch, Gemma Chan, and the 11-year-old McKenna Grace — in contrast to the eight men. (For those keeping track, that’s twice as many men as women. Two times. Double.)
It seems like the least that Marvel can do is add Ming-Na’s amazing Melinda May to this list. A powerful Chinese-American protagonist, May is a watershed female character in Marvel television. She is unparalleled as a fighter and an excellent pilot — but May is far more than just a badass. Nuanced, complicated, and sensitively portrayed, even a much more youthful version of Melinda would make an exceptional addition to the lineup of ladies in Captain Marvel.
It fits with the timeline
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn’t provided too many details about Coulson and May’s time at the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, but we do know that the long-time friends came up through the ranks more-or-less in tandem. Though they attended different branches of the Academy (he, communications, she, obviously, operations), Coulson recalls their exploits as agents in training, which grounded their firm friendship.
We also know that May and Coulson were also paired up for missions even before they had reached clearance levels 3 and 4 respectively, to the effect that May saved Coulson’s ass more than once.
(Remember S.H.I.E.L.D. levels? Life used to be so simple.)
So if Captain Marvel plans on showing us a fresh-faced young Agent Coulson, it makes perfect sense that his friend and frequent partner Agent Melinda May would be by his side.
Oh, the backstory!
Obviously, it’s unrealistic to expect that Captain Marvel will have spades of extra time to dedicate to Coulson and May’s relationship as young S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. (Alas.) But any screentime given to Clark Gregg and Ming-Na is rife with potential for filling in the gaps in their backstory.
Think about it! The pair could battle nerves as they accompany Carol Danvers on an early mission, or bicker over tactics. May could demonstrate the fits and starts of her brilliant career as a pilot, while Coulson could test out the sarcasm and dry humor that would make him the agent that fans fell in love with.
It seems very likely that Coulson will get the benefit of this backstory in Captain Marvel — isn’t it only fair that May, his closest friend and fellow student, benefits from the same opportunity?
Besides, if Captain Marvel takes place with S.H.I.E.L.D. at the height of its bureaucratic powers, they’re going to need plenty of agents! Why not take advantage of the considerable character stock established in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and add Melinda May to the ranks?
Ming-Na is literally ageless
Clark Gregg, bless him, might need some time in the makeup chair to restore Phil Coulson to his fresh-faced ’90s appearance. But Ming-Na… well, she basically looks the same as she did in the late ’90s. Proof:
See? Ageless. Put a wig with bangs on this lady, and she’ll be 20 again in a blink.
It’s about damn time!
The phrase “It’s all connected” has haunted Marvel Television since its inception. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been a particular victim; heralded as a great incorporation of TV and film when it began, the show has spent years thanklessly incorporating each new development in the MCU without so much as a blink of recognition from the film side. Once the promise of a synthesized fictional universe, “It’s all connected” is now the rueful refrain of fans who remember what could have been.
There are many reasons for this divide, ranging from the pettiness of corporate leadership to the practicalities of synchronizing film and television productions. And no matter how awesome Daisy “Quake” Johnson would look standing amongst the Avengers, there’s no reason to cry over spilt milk.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the Marvel Cinematic Universe shouldn’t seize an opportunity for integration when it finds one. Clearly, the inclusion of Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson in Captain Marvel means that such an opportunity has been found, albeit retroactively. There is no reason why Melinda May shouldn’t fit right in as well, finally providing just one new anchor between Marvel’s behemoth Cinematic Universe and the small screen.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans have waited for five years to see their love for and investment in the MCU reciprocated, or least acknowledged. Captain Marvel offers a perfect opportunity. It’s the ’90’s — there will be no need to synchronize timelines or change production schedules. The films can keep trundling on as they always have, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (should ABC give it the chance) can do the same.
But just this once, they can intersect, so by Thanos, they should.