- "By executive order, I have created a special task force to neutralize these alien threats on our soil. The Advanced Threat Containment Unit, or ATCU, will be given full license to act with whatever authority is necessary. The laws of nature have changed. And until the laws of man change to reflect that, we must do what we feel is right."
- ―Matthew Ellis[src]
The Advanced Threat Containment Unit, also known by its acronym ATCU, is a United States government organization created to deal with the emergence of new Inhumans following the accidental release of the Terrigen Mist at the bottom of the ocean.
However, since its foundation, the ATCU was manipulated by Gideon Malick's HYDRA cell to do HYDRA's bidding. After the death of its first director Rosalind Price, the ATCU was cleaned of HYDRA infiltrators and re-purposed to serve as the public face of the officially outlawed agency S.H.I.E.L.D. with the ATCU's new director Glenn Talbot being subordinate to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s director Phil Coulson.
President Matthew Ellis, with the help of his advisor Gideon Malick, created a covert task force called the Advanced Threat Containment Unit to deal with threats due to the general unrest following the Battle of Sokovia. The dispersion of Terrigen chemicals into Earth's ecosystems, made the unit's primary mission to hunt down new Inhumans. He appointed Rosalind Price to be the head of the ATCU. Several times, some other party would get to an Inhuman first and kill them. At a later incident, when ATCU was close to capturing Joey Gutierrez, he was rescued by S.H.I.E.L.D.
Price later set a trap for S.H.I.E.L.D., capturing Phil Coulson and Lance Hunter. Both parties exchanged words and learned that neither side was responsible for the deceased Inhumans. Shortly afterwards, Price received a call of an Inhuman attacking a hospital, in which Coulson and Hunter took their chance to escape.
- "Contain the alien threats at all costs. Use lethal force if necessary."
- ―ATCU Soldier[src]
The attack that occurred at the hospital brought Lincoln Campbell and Daisy Johnson to the attention of the ATCU. Agent Luther Banks led a manhunt for Campbell, which eventually took him to Chicago, Illinois when John Donnelly called, stating that Campbell was with him after he saw a national broadcast announcing that Campbell was an alien fugitive associated with multiple murders. When Banks and his team arrived, they found the body of Donnelly in his apartment, but Campbell had fled.
Meanwhile, Phil Coulson, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., accessed the direct line Rosalind Price had to the President of the United States in order to request a meeting. During the meeting, Coulson advised that having national broadcasts and manhunts were not a good idea. Price revealed that she knew that Johnson had powers and sought her arrest, but did not broadcast it because she was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Coulson, realizing that Price was under pressure from the President to show results, gave Price a compromise.
When Banks found Campbell, he was in an apartment with Johnson; Coulson told the ATCU Campbell's location and had Alphonso Mackenzie accompany them there. As Banks' team attempted to apprehend him, Campbell escaped. Banks turned his attention to Johnson; he had her surrounded and snipers on roofs outside her sight for her capture. Orders then came to Banks to relinquish Johnson; Coulson and Price came to the compromise that he would work for the ATCU as an advisor and the two organizations would pursue Inhumans together.
Phil Coulson informed Rosalind Price that S.H.I.E.L.D. pursuing Lash. The ATCU helped S.H.I.E.L.D. Price and her team examined the home of a married Inhuman couple who had been brutally murdered by Lash. As their bodies were being moved, Coulson questioned what would be done with them, in response Price questioned how he had known of the couple beforehand and what he was keeping from her. Coulson revealed that they were friends of a friend before insisting that they focus their efforts on finding Lash. Coulson once again informed Price when they gained a lead on a possible Inhuman with connections to Lash. The ATCU arrived first, once she and Luther Banks had the perimeter locked down S.H.I.E.L.D. arrived and they began discussing their plan, with Daisy Johnson questioning what happened to the Inhumans they captured, asking to look around their facility, to which Price requested a visit to S.H.I.E.L.D. in exchange.
Banks and Johnson led a team into the home of Dwight Frye; once he had been discovered they learned that he had an allergic reaction to being close to Inhumans. Price and Coulson then questioned him over his connection to Lash, explaining that they knew he sent viruses to the computers of the Inhumans that Lash would target. Frye confessed that he was working with Lash but he did not know Lash's current location, Frye went on to explain that he believed that what Lash was doing was not done out of cruelty but mercy for Inhumans suffering with their powers.
Having learned all that he knew about Lash and his plans for the Inhumans, the ATCU took Frye into custody, placing him in a van to go back to their holding facility for further questioning. Just as they prepared to leave, Coulson informed her that he planned to put Johnson and Alphonso Mackenzie on the van as well to check out Frye's holding facility. First she spoke to Banks and ordered him to return to the facility first. On its way to the ATCU's base, the van was attacked by Lash, leading to the agents being injured and Frye being executed in the ensuing battle.
Rosalind Price invites Phil Coulson to the Endotex Labs of the ATCU. Rosalind staged a robbery at her house so Coulson would feel more sympathy for Price. However, Coulson discovered it and Price took him to the labs, there they saw how an Inhuman was being put inside a Suspension Gel. Price explained that they wished to find a cure for the Inhumans while they were asleep.
Phil Coulson invites Rosalind Price to the Zephyr One for a tour while they would be heading to meeting with President Matthew Ellis about enhanced people. Price argued with Daisy Johnson about the ATCU actions. Suddenly, Alphonso Mackenzie and Lincoln Campbell came and suspected Andrew Garner to be Lash. Price assembled a squad to fight Lash if necessary in a building in Culver University. Lash started to fight against S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and ATCU soldiers. He then grabbed Price and threw her to the ground, but Johnson used her powers to stop her at mid air. Melinda May managed to put Lash inside the Containment Module. Price promised her they would find a cure for him.
After making preparations, Andrew Garner's Containment Module was given to the ATCU. Phil Coulson invited Rosalind Price to the Playground. After flew with Price in circles so that she will not guess the Playground's location, she arrived at the base. Meanwhile, a security breach occurred in Endotex Labs. Two "FBI" agents tried to fix the problem. Coulson in the Playground who then tricked Price into imprisoning herself in a holding cell so as to question her on their new suspicions of the ATCU's involvement with the HYDRA. Price genuinely believed that they have no involvement, and was distressed that Coulson told her he had his agents in the Labs conforming the ATCU did not try to find a cure, but spread the Inhuman Outbreak as much as they could. Price realized that the man behind it all is Gideon Malick, who Price sent reported to, and had been controlling the ATCU for HYDRA's purposes.
Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter escaped from the Labs and R. Giyera with the help of Luther Banks, and were extracted by Melinda May and Lincoln Campbell. While the team infiltrated the labs, Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz investigated potential links between the Project Distant Star Return and HYDRA, which was a lot ancient then they thought.
While Rosalind Price and Phil Coulson had dinner in Price's apartment, they discussed Gideon Malick and the threat he posed her, now she knew he was in HYDRA. Suddenly, a bullet was shot through the window directly to Price's through. Grant Ward called her phone and revealed to Coulson he had done it. Coulson escaped from Ward's men.
Later, Luther Banks and some of ATCU soldiers entered an old Project Distant Star Return facility with Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons in order to find the Monolith. R. Giyera, however, waited them and used his powers on Banks' gun to kill his men and then Banks himself.
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Public Face
- "Why is this meeting happening if S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't exist?"
"Because I need you to keep doing what you're doing. Privately. Publicly, the ATCU will still be the face of my administration's response to advanced threats. I'll appoint a new head to the agency, one who understands they answer to you."
- ―Phil Coulson and Matthew Ellis[src]
Some time after the death of Rosalind Price, the ATCU was cleaned of HYDRA infiltrators. Trusting Price's judgement, President Ellis met with S.H.I.E.L.D.'s director Phil Coulson in Price's apartment. Even though the President decided not to reauthorize S.H.I.E.L.D. to the public, Coulson and his agents would semi-legally act as the black ops unit against the advanced threats. At the same time, the ATCU would publicly remain the Government's only task force to battle HYDRA and deal with the Inhumans, but the agency's new director, Glenn Talbot, would secretly be Coulson's subordinate.
Symposium on Alien Contagion
Having learned that General Glenn Talbot was the new head of the Advanced Threat Containment Unit, Gideon Malick had kidnapped Talbot's son and then blackmailed him into betraying S.H.I.E.L.D., promising that he would execute him if he disobeyed. Meanwhile, Phil Coulson and Talbot went with Carl Creel, Bobbi Morse, Melinda May, and Lance Hunter in order to track HYDRA mole in the Symposium. During the meeting, Coulson was presented as the ATCU consultor.
Talbot, Coulson and the delegates gathered in the meeting room. The conversation quickly turned to Inhumans, with Coulson attempting to convince the group that they were only seeking peace. While Haruto Yakimura remained skeptical, Anton Petrov suggested that Russia was willing to make themselves a sanctuary state for the Inhumans.
Moments before Chen called for the vote, Talbot interrupted her and called the guards in, announcing that there was a traitor in the room, accusing Coulson and showing the room how Coulson had been spying on them all. Malick then entered the room and accused Coulson of being the Director of HYDRA. Coulson then found that Talbot was the traitor. Malick used images of Lash's victims to accuse Coulson of wanting to exterminate Inhumans while Talbot reluctantly stood by his side. With the room of world leaders believing Malick over Coulson, the Director was led out of the room while he demanded to know what Malick was blackmailing Talbot with, then Coulson learned about Malick having kidnapped Talbot's son. Malick arrested Talbot too.
Meanwhile, Creel went into the containment and rescued his boss and Coulson. The team worked together to rescue Talbot's son and stop Malick. The furious Talbot grabbed a nearby HYDRA guard and demanded to know where his son was, when the man failed to answer, Talbot knocked him out with a single hard punch. May had located George Talbot in the van where he was being kept in Suspension Gel. Talbot thanked Coulson for rescuing his son and tells him that now he had a long debt to him.
Members of the radical anti-Inhumans group, the Watchdogs, used Nitramene to destroy an ATCU Storage Facility. S.H.I.E.L.D. investigated the attack and Daisy Johnson brought Oscar to Glenn Talbot's custody.
When S.H.I.E.L.D. captured and questioned Gideon Malick, he told Phil Coulson everything he knew about HYDRA. Coulson sent all the information to Glenn Talbot who led the United States Armed Forces and the ATCU in a successful worldwide offensive against the terrorist organization, effectively wiping them out.
President Matthew Ellis sent Glenn Talbot to talk with Phil Coulson about signing the Sokovia Accords. Coulson agreed to show him the Playground and discussed with him about the issue. Coulson showed him his Inhumans agents, Lash and even revealing that Hive was on Earth again. Talbot also revealed to Coulson he knew Daisy Johnson was with Hive. Later, Melinda May and Lincoln Campbell tricked Talbot in making him believe Campbell had escaped, but actually putting Lash inside a Quinjet to Hive.
Johnson returned to the base, telling that Lash had saved her but died while fighting Hive. She also explained that Hive was planning to turn the human race into Primitives. Talbot said that Hive had stolen a warhead which could help him accomplish this plan.
In an attempt to stop Hive from launching a missile filled with deadly Terrigen Mist, Glenn Talbot contacted General Andaz and requested that he be given permission to gain the kill code in order to override the launch. Andaz refused to disobey protocol, but Talbot had Leo Fitz use S.H.I.E.L.D. technology to scan Andaz's face to be used to override his orders. They contacted Undersecretary Walter Thomas and convinced him that Phil Coulson, who was collecting the kill codes, was a member of the Advanced Threat Containment Unit and had full authorization to collect the codes. Despite being suspicious, Thomas did as instructed.
The codes worked to stop the missile launch and S.H.I.E.L.D. captured Hive. Talbot and Coulson discussed the Primitives and that the warhead was still missing as R. Giyera had stolen it during the mission and therefore there was still a risk. Melinda May interrupted them to introduce Doctor Holden Radcliffe who was responsible for transforming the men into the Primitives. Talbot insulted Radcliffe while ordering him to find whatever kind of cure he could to help the people he had infected, warning that if he failed then he would likely be transformed into one himself as punishment.
|R. Giyera||Head of Security||Deceased/Infiltrator|
- Tokyo Marui Strike Warrior: A handgun designed and customized by DARPA, used by ATCU operatives as their main sidearm.
- Kel-Tec PLR-16: A carbine used as an assault weapon by ATCU operatives.
|Appearances for Advanced Threat Containment Unit|
In chronological order:
- According to Rosalind Price, there are nineteen operatives in the ATCU whom she calls "Agent Johnson".
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.08: Many Heads, One Tale
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.01 Laws of Nature
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.03: A Wanted (Inhu)man
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.04: Devils You Know
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.06: Among Us Hide...
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.07: Chaos Theory
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.: 3.09: Closure
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3.11: Bouncing Back
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.12: The Inside Man
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.14: Watchdogs
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.17: The Team
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3.18: The Singularity
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.20: Emancipation
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.21: Absolution