Last night was the premiere of the much anticipated limited (for now anyway) series, Agent Carter. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe know Agent Carter, played by the delightful Hayley Atwell, from her introduction in Captain America: The First Avenger. She was an immediate fan favorite. People clamored to see more of Peggy Carter, so much so that people were even willing to see her take on the role of Sharon Carter/Agent 13. (This role was ultimately taken on by Emily Van Camp in Captain America: The Winter Solider, likely because the Marvel machine had already put plans in place for Agent Carter.) Peggy was given a one-shot that was attached to the Iron Man 3 Blu-Ray disc. The one-shot was amazing (Seriously you need to watch it if you haven’t) and paved the way for the show that began last night.
Agent Carter begins with footage from the first Captain America film – Steve’s sacrifice and Peggy’s heartbreak. While her relationship is not the focus of Agent Carter (thank goodness), it is something that drives her character which is reiterated in a conversation with Jarvis (Howard Stark’s butler and an actual man on whom Tony Stark’s robotic assistant is clearly based. Jarvis is played by the estimable James D’Arcy).
I just want to take a moment to say how much I love Jarvis in Agent Carter, even if he is being duplicitous at Howard Stark’s direction. He’s been told by Stark to assist Carter, but he still adheres (or tries) to his strict schedule:
Call any time before 9…..My wife and I got to bed. Seven o’clock: sherry; Eight o’clock: Benny Goodman; Nine o’clock: bed.
Agent Carter highlights the challenges women faced after the war ended – the rampant sexism and chauvinism as men tried to reclaim their roles and women tried to maintain the independence and power they gained. Peggy colleagues are especially demeaning towards her (except for Agent Daniel Sousa who stands up for her to her chagrin – as an aside, I understand Peggy’s response but I felt it was a little too harsh) and you can’t help but cringe and be angered by the things they say to her, particularly Agent Thompson (Chad Michael Murray, “One Tree Hill”). It’s not quite as bad as Mad Men, but still cringe-worthy. Though Carter’s humor, skills, and capabilities in the face of the sexism are fantastic to watch. Her fight scenes are particularly amazing. She kicks ass better than most men and the choreographed fights scenes are fun and entertaining.
The show is also great in the way it portrays the 1940s. The fashion, the muted color (except when it comes to Peggy), the settings…it all helps to enhance the general air and tone of the show.
And it gets even better when you consider the music and other ploys, like the black and white news story in the pilot and the radio show in ‘Bridge and Tunnel.’ I loved these little touches.
Agent Carter is another fantastic entry into the Marvel Universe and one that is fun and clever and gives us more of the Peggy Carter we so very wanted. And it hints at larger story lines that befit an entry into the Marvel world, unless Peggy Carter can foil the plans of course.
Leviathan is coming.
What did you think? I’ll admit that it took me a second watching to fully appreciate Agent Carter, despite my love for Peggy. But, the second watching allowed me to get past the chauvinism that angered me so very much and allowed me to better understand what the show is trying to do and how it contrasts Peggy’s actions with those of her male colleagues. And I’m very much looking to see how Peggy Carter navigates the post-war world and the challenges it presents, including potential betrayals.