Agent Peggy Carter: The First of Many?

By Daley Wilhelm
When recalling the first Captain America movie, we tend to focus on Bucky because we know now that his story continues as he appears as the tragic, amnesiac baddie of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Lately, I’ve thought about the other characters that really fleshed out the first movie, like Howard Stark, the Howling Commandos, and Peggy Carter.

Apparently, screenwriters have been thinking about her too.

     Marvel added in a teaser at the conclusion of Iron Man 3, a tradition that delights fans. They did this for Agent Peggy Carter, showing what came after Captain Rodgers’ crash into the ice.

Carter is working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve, stuck behind a desk rather than working the field, factoring in 1940s workplace roles. One night destiny calls, literally, as a mysterious voice on the other end of the phone tells her where to retrieve a sketchy serum concocted by an equally shady group known as Zodiac. Carter goes alone, despite the recommendation of several agents, and kicked some bad guy butt on the way. The following day her boss, Agent Flynn, is livid because she was “not following procedure” and dismissed her, saying the only reason she had her job in the first place was because she and Captain America had a thing.

But fate called again, this time with Howard Stark informing Flynn that Carter was to co-head the newly-formed S.H.I.E.L.D. and that he should “personally assist her with her things.”

Agent Carter, an eight-part miniseries set to premiere January 6 on ABC, will focus on the events leading up to her position at S.H.I.E.L.D. Carter (Hayley Atwell) is unfortunately still doing paper work and dealing with her sexist boss, but don’t worry. By night she’s doing secret missions for Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper). Several of Stark’s experimental weapons have fallen into the wrong hands and it’s up to Carter to recover them. By her side during her secret agent hours is Stark’s butler, Edwin Jarvis. He should sound familiar because he of is of course the informative voice of Tony Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S. artificial intelligence program (voiced by James D’Arcy). Another familiar name that will appear is Vanko (Costa Ronin). Anton Vanko was the father of Ivan Vanko, the crazed, bird-loving baddie of Iron Man 2. Anton Vanko worked with Stark on the original arc reactor. Stark stole his design and took the credit, leaving Vanko and his son in poverty. It will be interesting to explore the origins of the tragedies of the Stark family in this promising, but perhaps unfortunately brief series.

For this series, original writers of Captain America Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely promise to explore the world of the forties, but say it is not the world we expect it to be. Aside from being marginalized, as working women were when the men return home from war, Carter will also have to deal with the murky world of new peace. “It’s a really rich period in history, where this giant opposition we had going for ten years with the Nazis is gone, and we’re not completely positive what the rules are anymore.” said Markus, “Who gets the scientists? Who gets the secrets? It’s all on the table. Everyone developed these skills in World War II. People became spies, people became murderers. And suddenly the war was over, and they came back, and it’s like, ‘Wow, I know how to do some shit. Now, what do I do with this?’ It’s nice to play with that assortment of characters. An office, basically full of people who just came back from the war. There’s no telling what any of them experienced last year.”

The writers feel comfortable developing such a strong female lead in an era rife with sexism. Previews so far have shown Agent Carter taking full advantage of men perceiving her as nonthreatening, much to their own misfortune. With a character like Peggy Carter capturing the attention of Marvel fans, hopefully her popularity will prove to the higher ups of the comic powerhouse that their audience is ready for a batch of super heroines to take center stage. If Agent Carter can make it in the forties, why can’t Agent Natasha Romanov have her own movie in the progressive modern era? With the Captain Marvel movie, the first female-led film from Marvel slated for 2018 release, the possibilities for future superwomen seem a little brighter.

As for Agent Carter, there will be plenty of wartime flashbacks with Carter heading the Howling Commandos and confiscating mysterious, maybe magical, weapons form Hydra Nazis. Overall we’ll be watching how Carter balances her administrative work and her secret agent work, along with the struggles of being a woman in a difficult period. Fight scenes in pencil skirts and kitten heels, British accents, and origin stories galore–Marvel’s Agent Carter is something to make room for on your DVR this January.

  Agent Carter Premieres Tuesday, January 6 at 8 pm/ET on ABC.