Why Agent Carter deserves a TV series

Feature Seb Patrick 27 May 2014 - 06:55

Responding to a small pocket of online negativity, Seb argues the case for Marvel's forthcoming Agent Carter TV series...

We’re big fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Agent Peggy Carter here at Den Of Geek, so unsurprisingly we’re fairly enthused about the idea of her getting an upcoming solo TV series – not to mention the fact that a female character taking a solo lead in the MCU is a long overdue development. We were therefore somewhat surprised when one of our latest posts about the subject on our Facebook page attracted a significant number of highly negative comments, with many wondering why Peggy, in particular, was a character deemed worthy of a TV series.

We wouldn’t usually get into the habit of replying directly to comment threads on Facebook in this way – that could lead us down a terrifying rabbit hole if we started to do it regularly – but we thought this one was worth addressing. Because Peggy is great, quite frankly, and we think she’s a character who fully deserves a TV series that stands a good chance of being pretty excellent.

“She is an irrelevant character,” wrote one commenter. “It's like making a show about ‘that black guy from Terminator 2 that made Skynet’” Notwithstanding the fact that we would totally watch a TV series about Miles Dyson – seriously, a show about a conflicted scientist grappling with the moral implications of a technology that he wants to use to change the world for the better but which he’s discovered is ultimately responsible for all kinds of evil and terror? Sign us up! – comments like this seem to totally disregard Peggy’s role in the MCU.

While not the most prominent of characters in the comics – she was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as a retconned love interest for Cap in stories set during flashbacks to World War II, but such stories became less and less frequent after the character’s initial mid-1960s awakening, and her main purpose was to provide a link to Cap’s present-day romantic interest, Sharon Carter – she’s already established herself as one of the most significant figures in the cinematic universe. For starters, she’s pretty great throughout the entirety of Captain America: The First Avenger – taking little shit from anyone, establishing herself as a senior figure in a male-dominated military environment, and ultimately helping to basically save the world. The Winter Soldier, meanwhile, makes clear that she – along with Howard Stark – is basically one of the main founders of SHIELD. You know SHIELD? That quite important organisation? Basically wouldn’t exist without her.

The Agent Carter Blu-ray one-shot, meanwhile, dispelled any notion that Carter isn’t, as another commenter put it, “badass” (as if that were the sole arbiter of whether a character deserved to have a film or TV series made about them). True, it’s a slightly lightweight affair – but it’s a lot of fun, and showed that Peggy is more than capable of holding her own as a lead character without the context of having Captain America around her. It also gave her the beginnings of a setup and supporting cast (and while we don’t yet know if Bradley Whitford’s Agent Flynn will make it into the TV series, we sure as heck hope so, because Bradley Whitford).

This latter point is crucial to understanding some of the reasoning behind launching Peggy into her own show – a fact that’s been overlooked by people who have rattled off lists of Marvel comics characters they think are “better” or more “deserving” of a TV show. It’s much easier to springboard into a TV series (particularly one that’s going to be as short as eight episodes) when you have a lot of the characters and background already in place. Indeed, arguably one of the things that harmed Agents of SHIELD at the start was that its only real links back to the MCU were Coulson and the sparingly-used Hill and Fury; and it’s equally arguable that it only really became good when it started to fall back on the established-elsewhere setup of the Hydra infiltration. What’s more, and also from a production point of view, this is an opportunity to get Hayley Atwell and Dominic Cooper – actual, proper, established movie stars – heading up a TV show. Again, if we draw a comparison to AoS, the comparative lack of star power in that show may have counted against it – but here, the names will surely help draw people in.

It’s just odd that so many people have chosen to make this an “either/or” situation – suggesting that because Agent Carter is going to exist, it’s at the expense of films or TV shows about other characters they happen to like. Do we still want to see a Black Widow or a Carol Danvers Captain Marvel movie? Of course we do. But the fact of the matter is that we’re getting a cool-looking spy series in a period setting (a setting that’s already been shown to work well on screen, to boot), starring a smart, likeable and hugely capable female lead character, played by an absolutely brilliant actress. If that’s not the kind of thing that’s going to be up your street, we have to wonder what it is you’re getting out of the Marvel films and shows in the first place.

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