Last week the new ABC show Agent Carter premiered, the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It stars Hayley Atwell, who has been slowly increasing in how often she has been showing up in the movies and shows. She plays Agent Peggy Carter, first seen in Captain America: The First Avenger, a character who has been increased from her comic origins to be a total World War 2 era badass.
I wrote a post on Sourcerer about my misgivings about the show – and then initial reactions – last week. If it isn’t obvious, we were excited for this show and have been thinking about it a while. But I was worried – really worried – that it was going to not be able to pull it off. It’s doing something that no other TV show has done before, as a pre-sequel show where we know everything that eventually happens.
So will we keep watching it? Did they disappoint or succeed?
Comic Book Show or Historical Fiction?
Peggy Carter made her way into audience’s hearts first in First Avenger, with scenes like the improbable ending. Then even moreso with her scene towards the end of her life, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. She also had her own mini film on the Iron Man 3 DVD and has had several cameos in Agents of SHIELD. And sure, she was Captain America’s love interest, like in the comics, but she was a whole lot more. For instance, she started SHIELD. Kind of a big deal.
What we have in the show is neither Captain America nor SHIELD. It’s after Cap, as he’s crashed and gone. And it’s before SHIELD is formed. So it avoids tapping into anything we already know about Peggy Carter, which I feel like does a lot to free her – and the writers – for something new.
And so the story they are telling is one for its time. It’s just after World War 2, and the men have come back from war. They’re back in their old jobs. And they’re edging out the women who had held those jobs during the war.
This makes Peggy Carter a spy version of Rosie the Riveter, and I have to say that has been a lot of fun to watch so far.
Okay, so there’s a historical moment and situation and that’s great and all, but you can kind of let us know that and be done. To have a compelling ongoing show, you need good characters.
I’ve talked plenty about Peggy Carter, and she’s been great. But I’ve also mentioned the men who are back at the SSR, treating Peggy like she’s the secretary pretty much – and they’ve been great too. Their passive, ignorant sexism has served its purpose, and they’ve been pretty funny as well (though generally, the joke has been on them).
There’s also a fellow SSR officer who has come back from the war injured, and in many ways he is treated like Peggy. He empathizes, or sympathizes, or both with her. But it’s uneasy, and hopefully will progress throughout the show. Because after all, their situation is the same – and it isn’t.
And of course, there’s Jarvis. The namesake for Tony Stark’s butler AI, this is the actual butler. And… he butles. He’s not a spy, or a soldier, or even Alfred. Nope. He’s a butler, with a family and a bed time. And yet, Howard Stark leaves him to help Agent Carter in her mission (to clear Stark’s name). Somewhere in his butler DNA, Jarvis wants to help, despite being mostly unqualified to help. So Carter is the strong one, the expert, and Jarvis is the hapless, good-hearted sidekick. A fantastic reversal of character tropes.
Known characters, new characters… they’re great. For a lot more discussion of the show and the characters, and lots of gushing about how good it was (from three guys, no less) check out this SourceFed Nerd review. I should have it jumping to where they start talking about Agent Carter.
Alright, so it’s successfully avoided basically every problem I predicted, about us knowing where they’re going with it. They’ve given us an interesting historical moment, and peopled it with interesting characters. Sounds like a recipe for success. So will we keep watching it?
While the easy answer is yes, the more accurate answer is that it’s a super easy show to fit into our life. They’re airing it during the break for Agents of SHIELD (which is going until March! They must have some post-Age of Ultron episodes to do!) so we’re down one show while it airs. That also means the show is going to be short – only 8 episodes, of which two have already aired.
Hopefully that means it’s going to be amazing, and hopefully it gets picked up for a second season. I’ve heard rumors that Carter is going to show up in both Marvel movies this year, so they are by no means done with this character!
My fullest answer for whether we’ll be watching the show? I’m starting an episode recap series for Agent Carter over on Sourcerer – so I have to watch it! So if you’d like more of my thoughts on Agent Carter, be sure to stop on by and read them there!