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Agent Carter deserves a Disney+ revival from Marvel Studios

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Do not deny us of more Edwin Jarvis

Specifics on the post-Avengers: Endgame Marvel Cinematic Universe plans are a bit hazy, but Marvel Studios is planning to get a lot of mileage from some of their older characters. Enter Disney+, the streaming service which will be the home of shows like WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier that are in the works. But the concept of creating shorter miniseries based on supporting MCU characters should already sound familiar—Marvel Television did this with Agent Carter, which starred Hayley Atwell. Untimely canceled by ABC, perhaps it's time to toss Peggy Carter back in the ring and honor the show that made these other projects viable in the first place.

There isn't anything indicating that an Agent Carter revival will happen any time soon, but it absolutely should. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does indeed deserve credit for being the first television spin-off of its kind -- and not only had some fun Agent Carter tie-ins in its second season but also remains a damn good show on its own -- but long story short, Carter was the first of these spin-offs to focus on one single character, and it remains the only Marvel Television joint that Marvel Studios really cared about. Not only were the right people involved in making the original ABC show to potentially spark interest in a new third season, but Agent Carter was just a damn good show that left us too soon.

While there has always been a disconnect between Marvel Studios, the studio behind the theatrical films and the upcoming Disney+ shows, and Marvel Television, the branch that produces Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the other shows on Netflix, Hulu, Freeform, and ABC, Agent Carter is unique for being in a space between both entities. Unlike the other shows, Agent Carter is the only program with Marvel Studios figureheads Kevin Feige and Louis D'Esposito having any credited involvement. 

It all goes back to the Marvel One-Shot short film, also named Agent Carter, which came with the Iron Man 3 home release. That short was directed by D'Esposito and written by Eric Pearson, who went on to write several episodes for the show and co-wrote Thor: Ragnarok. It served as a proof of concept: Hayley Atwell's Margaret "Peggy" Carter, in a post-war world, navigates through a sexist workplace at the Strategic Science Reserve (the precursor to S.H.I.E.L.D.) while moonlighting as an agent and doing the hard work singlehandedly.

That premise eventually became the base of the television show, which not only had Feige, D'Esposito (who directed the pilot), and Pearson involved, but Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely as the credited creators of the show—the pair not only wrote the three Captain America films, but Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, in case you've ever heard of any of those movies. Needless to say, those are all people who have quite a lot of pull within Marvel and Disney—if they somehow didn't then, they certainly do now after the latest box office returns.

What I'm getting at here is that these are all people who very much love Peggy Carter, and are heavily invested in this small corner of the MCU that they created. Need any more proof? Well, there was that one essential cameo in Avengers: Endgame. If you are somehow part of the small portion of humanity that didn't contribute to the $1 billion-plus weekend gross, minor spoilers are ahead.

Not only does Peggy Carter make an appearance through time traveling hi-jinx, but Markus and McFeely made MCU history by inserting the first instance of a character introduced on a Marvel Television show into a Marvel Studios film. Not Quake from S.H.I.E.L.D., not Daredevil or any of those Netflix schmucks, and certainly not any of the Inhumans—but Edwin Jarvis, as played by James D'Arcy from the television show. While he only had a grand total of one line of dialogue in Endgame, I straight up squealed in the theater when he popped up to pick up Howard Stark.

And to me, that squeal was well-earned over two seasons of good television—Jarvis, the namesake of Tony Stark's Paul Bettany-voiced AI, was just a part of one of my favorite portions of the overall MCU. Edwin Jarvis, Dottie Underwood, Daniel Sousa—these are names that probably mean nothing to the casual MCU fan, but all were wonderful contributions to the world.

First, there's Peggy Carter herself. It's worth mentioning that Atwell taking a lead role made her a real trailblazer for the MCU. We often credit Captain Marvel for having the first Marvel female lead, but before that was Ant-Man and the Wasp with a lead female title role; before that was Jessica Jones on Netflix for the first solo female super-powered lead, and even before that was Agent Carter. Continuing the short film's depiction of a sexist work environment, Peggy Carter, unfortunately, had to put in more work to prove herself to her male colleagues, which resulted in numerous memorable sequences.

Here's a brief clip from one of my favorites in episode 2, "Bridge and Tunnel," which was directed by Captain America and Avengers co-director Joe Russo:

This sequence is wonderful for a multitude of reasons: it demonstrates Peggy Carter's physical combat abilities, which frankly, we don't see enough in the films. The scene is indicative of the creative fight sequences in the show, with this specific one having the Captain America radio show playing in the background and the foley work from that radio show juxtaposed with the action from Peggy through precise editing. And from a thematic perspective, it's also another way to visualize Peggy's pushback against the sexism of the era, as she more than holds her own in contrast to the radio show depicting Captain America saving a cliched damsel-in-distress.

It's rich, and I could go on and on just posting random cool clips from the show. In fact, here's another one from the season one finale, this time featuring Jarvis:

There are plenty of scenarios where Peggy Carter has to use brains more than brawn, often going into spy mode and utilizing disguises and accents to her advantage. But instead of showing more clips, I'd rather transition about the character of Dottie.

Another benefit to longer form storytelling that Agent Carter had was the addition of a sort of rival character. Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) is the other side of the coin—she's a rival and opposite of Carter, and the dynamic is quite fun to witness. On the world-building side of things, she's part of a program that serves as a precursor to the Black Widow Red Room program seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron flashbacks. But as a character, she serves as an example of what someone with Peggy Carter's talents and skills could have ended up under a different allegiance.

It's a fun cat-and-mouse game between the two, and watching them go at it from time to time is always a highlight. And even outside of combat, the pure tension between the two is magnificent—it's something unique, as the first MCU property with both a female protagonist and an opposing female antagonist.

But the good guys are just as good as the bad ones, Edwin Jarvis especially. You'll see him more in the field than say, Batman's Alfred, and while he may initially come across as a bumbling, inexperienced comedic sidekick, he eventually proves his own worth. One of my favorite scenes, not just with Jarvis, not just of the entire show, but from any of the MCU shows, is a light scene with Peggy and Jarvis sparring.

Again, we have a scene that does more than one thing: it captures the "old-timeyness" of the period, reveals that Jarvis has trained more after the adventures of season 1 while showing a new and different side of the character, having a comic moment based off of Peggy, and Jarvis's friendship, and introduces his wife, who becomes a significant character in season two. It's also a good example of the softer cinematography meant to invoke the period, as opposed to the harder and grittier look of Daredevil and late-era S.H.I.E.L.D. I hesitate to show any more material from season two, but Jarvis is given some more dramatic heft later on.

But to be quite honest, I could care very little about the other male characters in Agent Carter. The presence of Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) is great for adding a disabled character who is still very much active in his regular work, which adds some much-needed representation in the MCU—but I wouldn't call him the most dynamic character. Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) is a character about as boring as his name. And while Dominic Cooper's Howard Stark is great, we've seen the guy before.

Agent Carter was absolutely not a perfect television show; in fact, I thought season two, with its extended episode count compared to the first season, faltered into an anti-climax in the last episode. Plus, the season featured a love triangle that I couldn't even pretend to have some sort of stake in. But for everything the show did for the larger MCU, for all of the investment that some of the larger Marvel Studios players put into it, it deserved more than the most gaping cliffhanger I may have seen on television in my lifetime.

Jack Thompson got shot by an unknown assailant! Peggy's K.I.A. brother was hinted to still be alive! And who is Peggy's mysterious husband referenced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Sousa, perhaps? Because of ratings and the ABC network, we never found out any of the above.

But just know that Feige, D'Esposito, Markus & McFeely, the Russo brothers (who have their own darn production company after their Marvel success), and Disney have the power to continue that story. With other film supporting characters getting their due, there isn't a better window of opportunity for an Agent Carter revival. Peggy Carter is the original MCU "strong female character," and all of those about to get their own Disney+ show owe her everything. While Avengers: Endgame may have wrapped numerous storylines from the films, the volatile nature of television abruptly ended the Agent Carter storyline.

Surely, all of the players mentioned above could hire showrunners interested in taking on the next chapter of her story (original showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters are currently working on a pilot for a different show). The only things I see stopping this are the following possibilities:

  1. Perhaps those Marvel Studios players feel that Peggy Carter's appearance in Avengers: Endgame was enough closure for fans of the character.
  2. Internal politics—maybe Marvel Television and its head Jeph Loeb would want to call dibs, causing an internal squabble.
  3. Maybe Hayley Atwell isn't game and would want to move on—but I personally doubt that. She will certainly participate in the Marvel Disney+ animated show What If? as one of the scenarios has Peggy Carter taking the super soldier serum instead.

And hey, given the ending of Endgame, in which (major spoiler) Steve Rogers goes back in time and spends his life with Peggy Carter in an alternate timeline, that timeline might be interesting fodder for a season three of the show. These split timelines will almost certainly be the focus of the Loki Disney+ show, and if finding out who the hell shot Jack Thompson not an interesting enough storyline, maybe we could find out what happened when Steve Rogers stole Peggy's heart from her canonical husband, who many presume is Sousa from the show.

It's still a pipe dream, and while all of the pieces are there, they'd have to move in the right direction at the right time for an Agent Carter season three. But even if this were to never materialize, at least we can thank Agent Carter for bringing us the first and probably only musical dance number in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Chris Compendio
Chris Compendio   gamer profile

Chris Compendio is one too many Chris's (Chrises?) writing for Flixist and Destructoid. They are a massive MCU fan who also writes and podcasts for Marvel News Desk, and a Nintendo fanatic who wr... more + disclosures


 


 


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    Filed under... #ABC #Canceled #disney+ #Feature #Marvel #Revival

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