So I was at my local comic shop (Chameleon Comics shout-out,) as per every Wednesday lunch break ever, and having a delightful chat with my comic shop employee buddy about the magnificence that was The Avengers.
However he expressed some chagrin at certain plot developments, and in his eagerness to find a loophole presented a potential...well, loophole. I joined in the theorizing with excitement and together we may just have stumbled upon a beautiful secret, or at least a good idea for Joss when he writes Avengers 2 (they WILL ask him back, won't they?)
Spoilers follow (like, duh.)
So, he was pissed at Coulson's death. I took it as a matter of course in any Whedon masterpiece, but shared in the grief that came with such a sudden literal back-stab, especially after all the good work Coulson has done, his fan attention, and recent introduction into the comics.
However, his thoughts were revolving around the nature of Loki's magic mind-control spear, given to him by the unknown Big Bad-henchman at the beginning of the movie. When he learned that Thanos was behind the Big Bad, and consequently that spear/sceptre thing that, with but a touch, could transform strong-willed good men into eager slaves, he concluded that perhaps the power of the spear came from one of the Infinity Gems concealed in its structure.
The Infinity Gems, for those not in the know, are six items or jewels, of tremendous cosmic power. They consist of the Mind gem, the Soul, Time, Power, Space and Reality. Each is powerful on its own and in relation to its namesake, but assembled together they give one total omniscience, omnipotence, other omnis; in short, domination over the entire universe. All the gems embedded on a large metal glove equals the Infinity Gauntlet, an item of complete control over life and death that Thanos has possessed on more than one occasion, and which was seen in the Marvel Film Universe in Odin's vault.
So with Thanos behind all the events of the film it stands to reason that one of the Infinity Gems was used in Loki's weapon. Here's my contribution to the theory:
Back before Adam Warlock and his ragtag Infinity Watch team all protected a gem of their own, Adam saved a dying Gamora, a mind-wiped Pip, and himself by retreating into the Soul Gem, where they lived in a peaceful harmonious world until they needed to leave again to defeat Thanos. Again.
True it was just their souls, technically, that lived in the gem, but when they exited they seemed to have their old bodies back (or maybe there was a Reality Gem that helped create those, I'm not sure of ALL the details.)
Still, the point is this: Coulson could still be alive! His soul could have been drawn into the Soul Gem that powers Loki's staff (or by another soul already IN the gem) and he could be floating around there, happily, waiting to come out when the cosmic shit hits the cosmic fan in 2015's Avengers 2. And it's very likely that it IS the soul gem, seeing that Hawkeye and the good Scandinavian Doctor didn't merely become mindless zombies when Loki entranced them, but wholehearted, devoted, instant members of Loki's team.
Pretty nifty theory huh? Especially the main part, which is that Agent Coulson, the fantastic, deadpan, full of heart character who was essential in making this ambitious multi-movie franchise tie-in work, could someday return.
Gotta love comic shop talk.