Despite having been a key player in the creation of a covert government agency that easily recruits an all star superhero roster, there are no superheroes in the eight episode mid-season series Agent Carter because SHE is the superhero.
Taking place a year after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, and following the Iron-Man 3 one shot, ABC’s Agent Carter follows Peggy as she navigates a post World War II work force, continuing her work with the SSR but at a smaller capacity.
Like getting lunch orders.
She’s a really athletically gifted coffee girl.
Taking a page from the world built by Mad Men (predating it by a decade) this world explores how difficult it has been for women to have given their all in the war effort only to be asked to return to their proper stations as homemakers. Peggy, in continuing her work, challenges the leadership at every turn, cracking cases before her fellow agents can even open up a notepad to jot a few leads down. Episode one has her contacted by Howard Stark (Tony Stark’s father. Yes. Iron-Man’s dad) to assist with getting to the bottom of a mysterious grand theft of some of his dangerous inventions. Peggy hesitantly agrees to help, seeing as she’s pretty much over being ignored in the work place and she becomes a double agent.
It’s been nearly ten years since the last female led spy series aired on ABC (Alias) and about two years since the last episode of the Maggie Q lead spy series reboot Nikita (which also starred Lyndsy Fonseca currently playing Angie Martinelli) and while shows like Scandal and The Good Wife give us kick ass, cerebral women, it also bogs them down with the trappings of romance as a plot device. The leads are buried by their romantic triangle of the season more often than the crime of the week. For example, in one episode of Scandal Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope will have traded more barbs with an ex faster than she would trade blows; she verbosely batters her foes with whip smart dialogue, you immediately wish you’d paid more attention in English class. It’s wonderful, really, but sometimes viewers just want a girl who’ll happily bludgeon you with her heel instead of speaking to you because you’re stupid. A character like Pope can work in a world like Peggy’s easily; honestly, I WANT them to have some insane crossover where Olivia uncovers old SSR documents and…wait…back off, that’s my script.
While it’s great to have smart, sexually confident women on television, it’s much better to have a woman who isn’t trapped within the confines of a relationship that potentially defines her almost every week. Watching someone like Peggy punch a man into unconsciousness is pleasing. Watching her use objects around her for the same effect is also pleasing. This show is pleasing. Hayley Atwell is pleasing.
Atwell shines as the title character, dropping dudes as easily as she drops one-liners. Debuting in the aforementioned Captain America: The First Avenger, Peggy Carter was that girl; the one you immediately wanted to be friends with, the one who took no shit and the one with flawless lipstick game. Peggy, despite the smaller piece of the larger puzzle, has a knack for seeing the things that ultimately shape her destiny. She saw the potential for Steve Rodgers’ candidacy before the rest of the scientists did; she saw in him something, because of her gender, made him a bigger asset than she was to the cause. Just imagine if the team saw in her what everyone saw in Steve and she became a super soldier. HEY GET AWAY FROM MY SCRIPT.
While Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (that’s a pain in the ass to type) struggled in the first half of the series to establish characters worth caring about (I care mightily for Agent May and Agent Coulson) and to find it’s footing as it launched in the wake of The Avengers and Captain America, Agent Carter immediately gave viewers a reason for investment; it was the backstory TO AoS that was designed to use Carter and her Amanda Waller type of influence in the creation of the Marvelverse as a whole.
If Marvel does this right, Agent Peggy Carter could be the backdrop introduction (albeit limited considering) to the early negotiations for more Vibranium with Wakanda (Black Panther) the research into cosmic defense with Dr. Steven Strange, ultimately recruiting a young Natasha Romanov from the KGB once the Cold War is over. Peggy makes up for over 70 years of easy to cover story lines to bridge the comics, movies, Netflix series….she’s the Highlander. The One. Her work could be the nexus for everything in the Marvelspace and when you step back and look at the bigger picture, Marvel and ABC has to have the one nerd screaming in the halls about this very concept. We see her in The Winter Soldier and there are things said, things that make you have feelings.
Operation S.I.N, a mini series launched by Marvel January this year follows the further adventuring hijinks of Peggy Carter and science bro Howard Stark set in Europe. There are aliens.
And a bear getting punched.
Peggy, for the Marvelverse, is who Wonder Woman SHOULD be for DC. The nexus for good, a beacon of hope and the absolute measure by which the women who wind up in the various organizations hold themselves up to. Imagine young Jean Grey (I’m thinking silver age Marvel here but it also works for the Ultimate X-Men and various reboots etc) finding an old article about Peggy Carter while cleaning out a space in Xavier’s mansion. America Chavez (Young Avengers) wanting to be every bit the hero Peggy would’ve been had she been Captain America. I’m picturing Maria Hill’s goal in life was to helm a team as prolific as the Howling Commandos. Before she met lousy Ted Mosby.
There’s a world of female heroes that can trace their ability to work in the comic book world back to Agent Carter.
Or Lady Sif.
Because you can’t pretend Sif wasn’t first.
It’s also important to note that Agent Thirteen, Sharon Carter is……I can’t tell you that.
As the show closed out it’s first season run, there was a bit of a glimmer of hope for it’s fate. With any good Marvel title, there is always that closing credits scene and (SPOILER KIDS)
Dr. Zola welcomes Dr. Faust to a jailhouse Hydra party.
My theory and hope is that Season 2 will revolve around Peggy’s growing ability to be taken seriously in the office (I mean, as serious as someone will take a woman in the office who punches like thunder) and the discovery of the Winter Soldier program. Consider that Peggy’s era for change would be at the height of the Cold War, during which time the shocking discovery of Bucky Barnes’ MIA status being upgraded to that of WE HAVE BUCKY WE’RE GONNA TURN HIM INTO A SUPER SOLDIER HAHAHA would more than likely be at the forefront of any engaging story. You can easily introduce a cadre of scientists that have actively shaped the Marvelverse being thwarted by Peggy, or even causing waves in other properties linked to their respective histories. I can see Peggy rolling her eyes at Dr. Strange all the while, hoping he can protect their current dimension. I can see Peggy watching the space program develop (completely, unfortunately, ignoring the Fantastic Four because..yeah…) but still being mindful of the ramifications of space exploration; she could have an entire research division that ultimately taps into Rhodes and Danvers’ space pilot program….
If given the chance to grow, Agent Carter could be one of the few shows on television with the foresight (and money) to successfully mine from their comic book resources, connect the MCU to the books and vice versa; Peggy as the earliest Director of SHIELD essentially creates the world we love now.
Don’t you see kids?!
Peggy motherfuckin Carter is comic books badass grandma.
I’m sorry Aunt May…