Folks wondering whether the Agent Carter character introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger has staying power should look no further than the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con. At the Marvel Television panel, questions were taken from three consecutive Peggy Carter cosplayers. Our interview with many of the folks behind the show (including star Hayley Atwell, producer/director Louis D’Esposito, and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) was conducted in the immediate aftermath of this.
Marvel isn’t messing around with their Agent Carter TV series. While no official premiere date has been set, the show will air its brief, eight episode run during Agents of SHIELD season two’s midseason break, helping to bridge the gap between both halves of the show. Four of those eight episodes will be directed by Marvel Cinematic Universe heavy-hitters like Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger), and Louis D’Esposito (Item 47, Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter). We imagine the other four will be fairly impressive, as well.
With all this in mind, we were very excited to join other journalists to talk about Agent Carter with the folks involved, all of whom were quite gracious and forthcoming. We’ll start things off with Hayley Atwell and Louis D’Esposito…
So, when you first took this role in Captain America: The First Avenger, did you ever think that you’d have people dressing up as you?
Hayley Atwell: (laughs) No, that was so surreal. They looked more like me than I did!
Louis D’Esposito: Next year it’ll be twenty people!
That’s an impressive lineup of directors you have set for the show…
Louis D’Esposito: We wanted to keep it Cap-centric, because they’re all part of our family. From Joe Johnston to the Russo Brothers they all love Hayley. When we told them we were doing this, they said, unequivocally, “we’re on board.” It’s great for us, it’s great for the show, and it’s great for our fans.
Does it mean a lot to come back to this particular world after doing the one-shot and now that the Marvel Universe is so well-established?
Louis D’Esposito: We came here with a short list. We’re all about telling good stories. We wanted to do a great one-shot. We wanted to go back and do something with Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, because Peggy Carter is one of the only people from that movie that didn’t end up frozen in ice or have any experimentation done to her. So we said, let’s go back to 1946, pick up where we left off, and get a little glimpse into the life of Peggy Carter.
When you have an actress like Hayley who is so committed to the role, and so wonderful, after it was completed we went back and showed the people at Disney and they recognized what we had was special and they said “we should make this a television show.” That’s why we’re here.
As a “normal human” in a world of superheroes, how much action are we going to see in Agent Carter?
Hayley Atwell: It’s going to be very physical. There’s going to be a lot of action involved, so that in itself means it will take a lot of stamina to film it in a very short space of time. So I’ve begun a lot of strength training and physical training, my diet, my whole life has been turned upside down, with the focus on making sure that she is…
Louis D’Esposito: (jokingly) No more red wine…
Hayley Atwell: No more red wine! Oh no! (laughs) Just one glass! But it’s a great chance to become really fit and healthy for something that’s so exciting and so great. These are some really exciting challenges.
What kind of training are we talking about? Weapons training? Fighting?
Louis D’Esposito: We’ll get into all of that. In addition to the strength training and the stamina, it’s going to be things that are very episode specific. How to fire a gun, are there any special weapons, is there any Stark tech she has to use. Even some of the fighting styles from that era, although maybe being a little more advanced. I mean, I’m sure they don’t have Gracie Jiu-Jitsu back then, but they had some form of Jiu-Jitsu or Judo or Karate.
And then we got to speak with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, as well…
How do you feel about getting to do Marvel’s first solo, female project?
Stephen McFeely: I think it’s about damn time. I need this on my TV. I need a strong, complicated, regular woman kicking ass and asking questions. I’m thrilled about it.
Christopher Markus: I’m really glad it’s her. When we originally wrote her she was just this person called “Agent Carter.” But then Hayley got cast and she became English and we had a lot more questions about her after the movie was over than we had answers. We had the 98 year old Peggy in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but we wondered what the hell happened in between those two points. To be handed this opportunity is a lot of fun.
Are you happy to have the shorter season, where it’s just eight episodes, so you can just jump right in?
Stephen McFeely: We lobbied really hard for this. We love the cable model. There’s a place for the 22 episode show, and my heart is with the short show, where it’s one story that is told well over very few episodes. The fact that ABC was open to it and it works well with Agents of SHIELD season two is great.
Christopher Markus: We really wanted it to be an event, and not an episode of the week, case solved by 9:50 situation. We want to tell an eight hour movie.
Stephen McFeely: This is Marvel films coming to TV. We’d love it to get another season, but if it is just one season of eight episodes, if it’s an eight hour movie that you put on your shelf, then we did our jobs. If it goes past that, we’ll do it again the next year.
Will there be lots of Golden Age Marvel characters showing up?
Stephen McFeely: We’ll use some characters you can point to. We’ll use Edwin Jarvis, who is Howard Stark’s butler and he’ll be an important figure, and kind of a link going forward.
Christopher Markus: I don’t think we’ll be creating new superheroes, partly because, I love the aura that at this point, Steve Rogers was the only Marvel superhero, and now he’s dead. So “what do we do now?” In a way, there’s a specter of the absence of the one superhero they had. It’s back to the humans again now.
So if we’re getting Edwin Jarvis, does that mean we’re getting Howard Stark, too?
Stephen McFeely: I’m allowed to say some things, I’m not allowed to say all the things.
Christopher Markus: Magic 8-ball is cloudy, ask again later!
Thanks to everyone who took the time to speak with us!