Marvel dropped a bomb on us a few weeks ago with the revelation that Phil Coulson – as of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3 finale – is no longer the top dog in charge. Since then, countless articles on various websites have speculated just who the new Director could be, but they’re all mostly saying the same old thing. We figured it was time we at the MCUExchange gave it a shot.

Melinda May

I think we can all agree Melinda May (AKA the Cavalry) is the most obvious choice, so it’s fitting that we start with her. Coulson’s right-hand woman has had quite the story arc over the show’s 3 seasons. Time and time again we’ve seen that she’s really not the woman you want to cross. Of equal importance is the respect her presence demands. If Agent May tells you to do something, you do it. Her character has always possessed a sense of leadership, and with Coulson on the hunt for Daisy Johnson, it’s easy to see how she could take over Coulson’s gig as director.

On the flip side of this, May was very reluctant to rejoin S.H.I.E.L.D.’s battlefield to begin with, so becoming the face of the organization might be too big of a leap for her. Take into account the recent death of her ex-love, and this may not be a responsibility she’s ready to take on. At least, not yet.

Nick Fury

Good ol’ Nick Fury has always been the centerpiece of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s comic books, but given Samuel L. Jackson‘s mega-stardom, the character has only been able to make two cameo appearances in the show thus far. It’s hard to imagine Fury up and abandoning the organization he tasked Coulson with rebuilding, and those headlines about a superhero named Quake are bound to get his attention. Having Fury lend Coulson a helping hand to find Quake is actually pretty plausible, and makes a lot of sense given that Fury is Coulson’s mentor, as Coulson is Daisy’s.

You would think if Sam Jackson was willing to appear in the show’s first season, he wouldn’t be opposed to a future season–but the fact that he hasn’t shown up in two years could be a sign that ABC simply can’t pay enough. Coupled with the fact that he’s currently filming The Hitman’s Bodyguard with Daredevil’s Elodie Yung, and another appearance might not be so likely after all.

Lance Hunter


Alright, alright, put your pitchforks down and let me explain.

The Lance Hunter we’ve seen so far has been very irreverent and questioning of authority. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s showrunners even went so far to say “he’s not S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and since him and Bobbi Morse have left the show anyway, he’s not exactly at the top of the candidacy list.

Whatever plans were in place for Marvel’s Most Wanted is likely a thing of the past, as ABC wound up passing on the Bobbi and Hunter-centered spin-off. However, the two characters were fan favorites, and the actors loved being on the show, so there’s really no reason to not bring them back. Doing so after such an emotional departure would have to be earned, of course, but showing Hunter not only back but at the wheel of the ship would be nothing short of intriguing.

Comic fans (or, let’s be honest, hardcore Wikipedia searchers) will know that Lance Hunter was at one point the Director of S.T.R.I.K.E., the United Kingdom’s version of S.H.I.E.L.D. Hunter’s come a long way since the show began, and he gained a whole new level of respect from Director Coulson after sacrificing his status as an agent in the season three episode “Parting Shot.” Temporarily holding the rank of Director is not outside the realm of possibility, especially considering that six months has passed since the showdown with Hive. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a lot can happen in six months.

Phil Coulson

With all this buzz going around about Life Model Decoys, I’m surprised no one has thought of this yet. I actually always thought the concept of LMDs was too silly for the show to toy with, but the season 3 finale “Ascension” certainly proved me wrong.

I propose that the Phil Coulson we saw at the end of “Ascension” was not the real Coulson, but in fact a Life Model Decoy. When the Coulson we see tells Agent Mack to “call the Director,” he’s really talking about Director Coulson. The people who make this show are masters of misdirection, and given that we’ve already seen his leadership position taken away a couple of times, it could become repetitive to see him lose the role again only to gain it back a few episodes later.

A Whole New Character

Like I said, these people are masters of misdirection. All good storytellers like to torture their fans a little, and having us spend all summer guessing who the new Director is only to make him someone new is exactly the thing a Whedon would do.

The comics have had a ridiculous amount of S.H.I.E.L.D. Directors throughout the years, from some guy named Rick Stoner to Tony Stark himself. Of course, an original character could assume the position–Exhibit A: Phil Coulson–but only time will tell.

Why I Don’t Think It’s Maria Hill or General Talbot

Two popular fan-theories are that Maria Hill or General Talbot have taken up the mantle of S.H.I.E.L.D. Director. While they’re certainly not improbable choices, there are reasons why they don’t fit the bill.

For starters, Maria Hill has been gone for a while now, and was completely absent from season three. The events of season four are kick-started in season three–Daisy’s playing vigilante because of the guilt she feels from serving Hive, Dr. Holden Radcliffe (John Hannah) creates AIDA as a solution to all the violence he’s seen, and so on. Not only has Maria Hill completely missed all of that, but the only two agents she knows very well are Coulson and May, and those aren’t exactly close relationships. As much as I want to see her return, in this case it’s simply not the right call.

As for the slightly more likely General Talbot, we’ve seen him reluctantly partner up with Coulson before, and that was already a big deal. Since he was forced to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. by President Ellis, he has been consistently critical of their whole operation, always seeming to find something wrong with everything they do. Him suddenly electing to become that organization’s Director feels a bit incongruous to his character.

But like I said, six months have gone by. Anything is possible! Personally, I’d like Nick Fury to return to tide us over until his next film appearance, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

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