Top 5 Reasons Why I Think Coulson Being an Life Model Decoy is Ridiculous

It’s time for another SpoonWielder’s Top Five. This time I look at the theory of Agent Coulson being a Life Model Decoy, and just how ludicrous that is.

I like Coulson. I like him a lot. When we first saw Coulson at the beginning of Iron Man, it appeared that he was nothing but a random pencil-pusher who worked for some faceless organization. But as the movie progressed it turned out this was no analyst, this was a full-fledged agent who could handle himself. He became something of a fan-favourite. I still have no idea how it happened. But it did. I honestly don’t remember him being talked about much after Iron Man came out. But Coulson’s popularity soared, and that gave him roles in other Marvel movies; Iron Man 2, Thor and finally the Avengers, where he met his demise at the end of spear. Fanboys wept that day.

But soon after the huge success of the Avengers, Marvel announced that they would be producing a live action tv show called Agents of SHIELD with Agent Coulson as the star. Many theories surrounded Coulson and his return to the MCU. Did the show take place before the Avengers? Was it all a lie and Coulson faked his death? Or was he really dead and brought back by some unknown force? There were plenty of theories but none that made me roll my eyes more than the Life Model Decoy theory. I’ve always thought that theory was dumb, and here’s the reasons why;

1. The Technology Just Isn’t There

So for those of you who haven’t picked up a comic, and have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain to you what a Life Model Decoy is. Or rather let the Marvel Wiki page explain it to you;

Life-Model Decoys (LMD's) are a S.H.I.E.L.D. designed robot that takes the form of a living person, thus making a recreation of that person. The owner can see through, speak through, and control everything the LMD does in the field.

Essentially it’s just a robot that looks like a person. Kind of like a Terminator. However according to Marvel Comics, a Life Model Decoy is controlled by an outside source. Not a self-sustaining, decisive robot as the LMD theory often implies. But for the sake of argument, let's say if Coulson was an Life Model Decoy, he wasn't being controlled by someone else. He's just simply a robot who looks Old Christine's ex.

For something like this to exist, you would need a pretty sophisticated piece of machinery. Capable of functioning on its own power source for extended periods of time. Be able to integrate into its surroundings without raising suspicions from its behaviour or appearance. And being able to adapt to special circumstances and situations in a convincingly human way.

At this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the most advanced piece of technology is arguably the Iron Man suit. Yes, there’s been Tesserects and Asgardian technology but on Earth, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s the Iron Man suit, and by extension, JARVIS. Tony Stark is already pushing the boundaries with his suit. I really don’t think that the technology to make a living, breathing, replicant exists at this time.

First off, the artificial intelligence isn’t there. Now before you scroll down to the bottom and yell at me in the comments section, hear me out. Yes, they do have highly advanced artificial intelligence in this universe. JARVIS being the prime example at this point, and Ultron being a second in the next few years. Both, however were created from scratch. A LMD’s artificial intelligence would have to be based off an existing person’s personality. In this case, Agent Coulson. Taking a whole bunch of 1s and 0s and programming it to not only talk like a person, but copy facial expressions and mannerisms so well that nobody notices, that is no easy feat. Even if the guy is kind of deadpan.

And, it’s one thing to make a robot that can act like it’s human, it’s a whole other thing to make a robot look so real that nobody knows it’s a robot. Coulson’s had physicals since Agents of SHIELD started. He’s sweated, he’s shaved, he’s sustained bleeding open wounds since the show started. Are you meaning to tell me that they have robots so advanced they not only look human on the outside but they look real on the inside too? With flesh and blood and everything? That’s really advanced technology. And seems a little beyond their grasp at the moment.

2. Why Coulson?

Okay, so let’s say the technology is there. They really can make robots that look and act and think like humans. Why of all people would you make a robot that looks like Agent Coulson? I can understand important people, like the President, or Nick Fury. But why Coulson? He’s a nobody. Yes, he’s a high-ranking SHIELD operative. And has proved effective in the past. And has a charming way about him, but in the end, he’s just an expendable agent. A cog in the great machine. Usually you’d cut your loses and find someone to replace him. You don’t go and spend millions, if not billions of the tax payer’s money to make a robot version of him, just ‘cause you miss the guy.

3. Why the Charade?

Okay, again let’s say the technology exists, and they did, for whatever reason, decide to make a Life Model Decoy of Coulson. Why doesn’t he know about it? Wouldn’t he be a much more effective asset if he knew he was a robot? What possible benefit would they have of keeping him the dark. That’s like NOT telling an amnesia patient that they’re a multi-millionaire.

Maybe there are good reasons though. Perhaps people would feel uncomfortable around him knowing he’s a robot. Yes, that’s true. They would probably question his judgment more, and blame any wrong decision he made on faulty programming. They’d probably all go silent and stare when he walked into a room. That’s what I call a hostile work environment. I can see why they wouldn’t tell anyone his secret.

Well then, maybe he does know and he’s hiding it. Another valid theory, except he clearly doesn’t know! Coulson has stated aloud, to other characters, that he feels different and feels he wasn’t given the whole story when it came to his death. He’s been actively looking for answers and he’s not exactly been private about it. I doubt he’s doing all of that for show.

And not to be crass, but does Coulson go to the bathroom? I think people would notice if he never went to the bathroom. So if he knows he’s a robot, does he go to the bathroom every couple of hours to throw people off? Does he just stand in there and pretend to go? Every now and then staying in there longer so people think he’s doing a two-sie? And if he doesn’t know he’s a LMD, is he built to go to the bathroom? That’s probably one of the first things I would notice if I was robot and didn’t know it. And that brings up the question, why would anyone build a robot that has to go to the bathroom? I need these questions answered Marvel!

Can you see how ridiculous this theory is yet?

4. Why is He So Insubordinate?

If Coulson is an LMD, why does he break the rules so much? Since Agents of SHIELD started I’m pretty sure in every episode, Coulson has done something that is either A) Not procedure, or B) A direct violation of what he was ordered to do. Coulson is constantly bending the rules, whether it’s taking in a hacker who is clearly a spy and hiding something, or sticking around when he’s been told it would be safer if he evacuated. Coulson has a strong moral belief, and he’s not afraid to act on it. That’s a good thing, it makes him an interesting character. But that kind of behaviour does not scream to me Life Model Decoy. Coulson is shown to be in almost constant disagreement with his superiors and often thinks outside of the box to serve his own personal agenda, which usually saves more people’s lives. While it is the moral thing to do and makes for more interesting television, is this really how you would describe the actions of a robot? You would think that a government sanctioned weapon, like a Life Model Decoy, would be programmed to follow orders. You’d think SHIELD would show up the second that Coulson showed the smallest signs of insubordination.

5. LMDs Are a Joke.

Anytime I bring this topic up, inevitably someone brings up the same silly argument. But Tony Stark said in the Avengers, ‘ You’ve reached the Life Model Decoy of Tony Stark.’! So they have to exist! No, no they don’t. That my friends, was a joke. Tony could of said anything in that instant; You’ve reached the clone, the holo representation, the evil twin brother, the Sandman disguised as, and so on. It doesn’t mean any of those things exist. If he had actually said ‘evil twin brother’ would we be running around with all these crazy theories about Stark’s twin brother Santiago and what exactly his evil plot may be? No, we wouldn’t. Actually scratch that, we probably would.

But Tony didn’t say evil twin brother he said Life Model Decoy. And why did he say that? The simplest explanation? So you could poke your buddy in the theatre and say ‘ That’s a thing, you know.’ The great Joss Whedon is a master writer, as well as a lover of comic books. I’m sure he put that line in there to not only get a laugh, but to give the slightest of nods to all his comrades out there in geekdom. I have never believed it was a sign of things to come. It was simply a joke.

Well there you have it, five reasons why that theory’s ridiculous. As you can guess, I really don’t think Coulson is a Life Model Decoy, and Agents of SHIELD is starting to point away from that direction thank goodness. However if it is the case that Coulson is a robot, I think that will be the proverbial nail in the coffin for the show. At least for me. The mystery of Coulson’s resurrection still plagues us, but I hope with this article I put to bed at least one of the many theories. I hope you enjoyed this edition of SpoonWielder’s Top 5, and as always comment in the section below.
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