Originally it sounded like a tough sell. Peggy Carter of Captain America was a likable enough character, but she had no super powers and much of her role revolved around supporting Steve Rogers. Many wondered not only how she could star in her own series, but who would be the supporting cast when the bigger names were obviously going to be reserved for the movies.
Agent Carter, I can happily report, managed both feats astonishingly well. Peggy is presented as a capable woman experiencing what many female soldiers faced when World War II ended and gender roles snapped back into their rigid standards with heartbreaking ease. A realistic, if at times frustrating, world was built around her by the writers, filled with realistically flawed coworkers who struggle to understand why she wants to continue working as an agent of the SSR when she is relegated to picking up lunch orders and answering phones.
A solid balance is struck between intelligent and rewarding character development and the sort of fast-paced action scenes the audience would expect from a Marvel production. Agent Carter is thrust into a world of espionage and highly trained assassins when she is asked to help Howard Stark–Iron Man’s father–clear his name after many dangerous inventions are stolen and sold on the black market, making him a suspect of treason. Edwin Jarvis (another name familiar to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Tony Stark’s virtual assistant) is tasked by his employer Howard Stark to assist her in the task of clearing his name.
One of the most pleasant surprises about Agent Carter is that she’s never presented as–nor does she ever claim to be–better than “typical women.” Never once do the writers put forth the tired trope about most women being vain and useless, while the female lead is set apart from the vapid masses by her willingness to be “one of the guys.” She owns her femininity, and is given several positive female friendships. Agent Carter is a series that quietly but firmly shows that women are often held back in a professional setting because men–either willfully or even without intending any malice–underestimate the competence of women who refuse to strip themselves of anything overtly feminine.
Agent Carter is easily one of my favorite entries set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I hope you will all enjoy it as much as I have.
Incidentally, this post was originally supposed to be titled, “Agent Carter DVD Release Is Fierce And Fabulous,” but sadly Marvel wasn’t willing to put much effort into the DVD or Blue-Ray sets. The Blue-ray set has a small featurette. The DVD set has a blooper reel. It’s a substandard product but I bought it to support the series and show Marvel that there is a strong consumer interest in continuing it. I hate being put in the position of either rewarding a business for charging full-price for a few episodes and fewer bonus features, or sending the message that Marvel should cut its losses and cancel the show.