In case you were wondering, we now know who was behind the decision to give Agent Coulson an expanded role in the MCU and who decided to add Hawkeye to the fray ahead of The Avengers.
After his mostly comic breakout performance in Iron Man, Coulson wasn't initially planned to come back, despite how well he went down with fans. That is according to Thor writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz.
Stentz spoke to Kevin Smith on his Fatman On Batman podcast (via ScreenRant), saying he wrote Thor in a matter of weeks after the first Thor script was scrapped. He was charged with planting seeds for the Avengers and shifting the setting mostly to Earth. Plus it was decided that Thor needed someone to oppose his efforts, aside from Loki:
This was a page one re-write, based very loosely on story beats that they gave us there were beats that they had, and beats that they didnt have, and we were kind of working them together. At one point it was like Okay we want S.H.I.E.L.D. to be in there and theyre like We cant have S.H.I.E.L.D. as the bad guys! No, not the bad guys, just the people opposing Thor; theyll be the good guys by the end, trust us."
Unfortunately, Sam Jackson hadn't quite agreed to his contract, holding things up and ensuring he wouldn't be able to represent his employers...
And then theyre like Well, you can have S.H.I.E.L.D., but Sam Jacksons holding us up in negotiations so we dont know if we can have Nick Fury. And were like Well, how about that Clark Gregg guy from the first Iron Man, he was great and he popped! Can we have Coulson? And theyre like Coulson, Coulson, Coulson oh him! Yeah, you can have him. They ended up giving him a bigger role in Iron Man 2 because they liked how he was popping in Thor. Clark Gregg actually sent us t-shirts as a thank you.
So if it wasn't for the writers and Jackson holding things up (no doubt financially), Phil Coulson wouldn't have been in Thor, Iron Man 2 or The Avengers (which he wouldn't have been killed in, and then revived in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.). That guy owes more than T-shirts.
Stentz also opened up on Jeremy Renner's cameo in Thor:
You want to know who owes us and hasnt said ANYTHING? Part way through theres the SHIELD Sniper takes aim and we identify Barton. And But if we get Hawkeye, well have to get a real actor. And then they realized we can just shoot the A-Side, and then when we cast for The Avengers well just go back and shoot a thing with that actor. So, Jeremy Renner: Youre welcome!
I can't be the only one who is grateful that Kevin Feige didn't have every year of the MCU mapped out from day one can I? Here's to the enduring influence of writers on the ground!