Monday, January 12, 2015

'Agent Carter' is Marvel's New Smart, Sassy Action Hero

Patty Estes is The Mouse Castle's new smart, sassy blogger. Say hello! -- Tim

By Patty Estes

I'll admit I was worried about Agent Carter. Would it start slow like Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Could Marvel handle a female-driven comic adaptation? Would they botch it? Marvel has a lot riding on the show's success. Peggy Carter will lay the foundation for future female-led comic book adaptations (ironic since it addresses sexism in the workplace). The show will give us insight into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s history and it may play into the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, establishing origin stories for future characters.

The eight-part series is filling the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. time slot while that show is on winter hiatus. Agent Carter premiered last Tuesday night with two episodes: 1X1: "Now is Not the End" and 1X2: "Bridge and Tunnel." I'm happy to report my worries were for naught. Barely into the first episode it was clear Marvel had delivered not only a fun-filled romp, but a historical drama, spy story and comic book adaption with a kick-ass leading lady who has great style (did you SEE that hat?). I predict Agent Carter costumes will be in heavy rotation at this year's cons.

Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter
It's 1946, World War II is over, Peggy Carter still works for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), but is treated much more as a secretary than the true agent we met in Captain America: The First Avenger. The GI's are coming home and women are being relegated back to working only until they can become wives and mothers. The show opens with a montage showing Peggy’s new morning routine with footage of her action-packed war effort to really push the point. Peggy works on missions covertly while schooling her misogynistic workmates with witty remarks. It works. She’s a hero in heels. She’s always one step ahead of her male counterparts and they only ever ask her for coffee.

The show does not bury the lead. Weapons engineer Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) is accused of selling his “bad babies” – his most dangerous creations – to the highest bidder and Peggy, with the help of Howard’s butler, Edwin Jarvis, sets out to clear his name. Complications ensue when they also must recover the formula used to make nitramene, a dangerous explosive manufactured by whoever or whatever the mysterious "Leviathan" is.

There is a lot to love about Agent Carter. It’s a beautiful period piece with a strong protagonist. Hayley Atwell as Peggy overshadows the majority of her male counterparts, but two stand out from the crowd. Enver Gjokaj plays Agent Daniel Sousa, a man who was injured during the war and who sticks up for Peggy even when she asks him not to. James D'Arcy as Jarvis acts as her sidekick and moral compass while trying to keep her alive and not emotionally shut down.

My only concern with the show is how inept the male SSR agents are portrayed. Peggy is a much stronger heroine when she’s outsmarting equals instead of condescending buffoons. I get it. It's the drawback of a period piece, but let’s hope that Peggy’s accomplishments are shared and she’s appreciated as much by her fellow agents in the SSR as she was during the war.

Episode 1X3: “Time and Tide” airs January 13th on ABC at 9:00/8:00 Central. Below is the official synopsis:
As Agent Carter closes in on Howard Stark’s stolen technology, Peggy’s secret mission could unravel when the SSR arrests Jarvis and a secret is revealed, on Marvel’s Agent Carter.
Marvel’s Agent Carter stars Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter, James D’Arcy as Edwin Jarvis, Chad Michael Murray as Agent Jack Thompson, Enver Gjokaj as Agent Daniel Sousa and Shea Whigham as Chief Roger Dooley.
Guest starring are Lyndsy Fonseca as Angie Martinelli, Kyle Bornheimer as Agent Ray Krzeminski, Meagan Fay as Miriam Fry, Patrick Smith as Agent Wallace, Alexander Carroll as Agent Yauch, Rob Mars as Jerome Zandow, Lesley Boone as Rose, Benita Robledo as Carol, Bridget Regan as Dottie Underwood, Laura Coover as Molly, Tim James as Jimmy, Paul Roache as building manager, Christie Lynn Herring as prostitute and Rick Steadman as automat customer.
“Time & Tide” was written by Andi Bushell and directed by Scott Winant.
FYI, I would totally listen to the Captain America radio play enacted in Agent Carter. I hope someday that it’s a thing!

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