Introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger, Hayley Atwell's Agent Carter has become a firm fan-favorite. Marvel Entertainment gave Ms. Carter her own (admittedly ill-fated) Agent Carter TV series, while the movies continued her story up to the very end, finishing with her death in #CaptainAmericaCivilWar.
It's not just fans that can't get enough of Agent Carter; at Heroes and Villains Fan Fest in London, Hayley Atwell described the role as the "gift that keeps on giving," and one she keeps on being asked to reprise. One imaginative fan at #HVFF asked the ultimate question; what would be Peggy Carter's epitaph? Quoting the show, Atwell gave a simple response:
"She knew her value."
A Fitting Epitaph For Agent Peggy Carter
"I don't need a congressional honor. I don't need Agent Thompson's approval or the president's. I know my value. Anyone else's opinion doesn't really matter."
Vast tracts of Peggy Carter's life are (as yet) uncharted, and yet this really does seem to be the most fitting epitaph. Her story really begins with the Second World War, where she was recruited as a codebreaker in Bletchley Park. Although her work was crucial to the war effort, of course, she had the potential to achieve far more. Only her brother Michael believed in her, and he recommended Peggy for membership of the Special Operations Executive. The two parted ways after a heated argument, and Peggy was unable to reconcile to Michael before his death on the front.
Michael's death forced Peggy to face her own character; she realized that he alone had truly understood her, and that he'd been right. In light of that realization, Peggy chose to call off a marriage, and pursue the field agent position. She was successful.
As an MI5 operative, Peggy was loaned to the American's Strategic Scientific Reserve; it was there that she met Steve Rogers, the man who would become #CaptainAmerica. As Hayley Atwell noted at Heroes & Villains Fan Fest, Carter saw in Steve Rogers a kindred spirit. Both has faced opposition — Carter for being a woman, Rogers for his physical infirmity. Both knew their value; both refused to let society's opposition defeat them. They were mirror-images of one another.
The Aftermath Of Steve Rogers's Death
Although heartbroken by Captain America's apparent death, Peggy continued to serve with the SSR. She led field action against #Hydra bases across the world, right up until the end of the War. She stayed with the SSR, and that's where Agent Carter Season 1 picks up — with Carter largely sidelined by the male-dominated New York branch. She knew her potential, and railed against the limits imposed on her by others. When Howard Stark offered her a chance for action, she recognized that he (and he alone) knew her value. She jumped at the chance.
Season 2 can be seen in this light as well; Agent Carter found herself hot on the trail of a dark conspiracy, and refused to let anyone tell her what to do. She knew her value, she knew what she was capable of, and she was supremely confident that she could overcome even the challenges of a Darkforce-powered opponent. And she was right.
Finally, this theme even runs through the (probably non-canon) Agent Carter one-shot. Again frustrated and angry at being sidelined, Carter insisted on pursuing the villainous organization known as Zodiac.
The Central Theme Of Agent Carter's Life
We know precious little about Peggy Carter's life from this point on, but this much is clearly true; she knew her value, and she proved it to the world. Just look at the fondness and reverence with which she's treated by S.H.I.E.L.D. members in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and not just by Phil Coulson). Peggy Carter became a S.H.I.E.L.D. legend, a stalwart leader who fought relentlessly against the darkness.
The incredible thing? Peggy Carter achieved all this at a time when women were undervalued. She was still serving, both as a leader and on the front lines, as late as 1987, when she recruited Hank Pym for a mission behind the Iron Curtain. As the world changed around her, Peggy Carter remained unmoved. In a fitting, heart-wrenching twist, she lived long enough to see Steve Rogers return, having been frozen in the ice of Greenland.
She knew her value. Hayley Atwell is right; that one sentence sums up Agent Carter's whole life. She knew her value, and she would not allow anyone or anything to demean her. When the whole world looked at her and said she should be making the coffee, she turned round and became leader of the world's foremost security agency. She knew her value — and she won the world over, too.
Can you think of a better epitaph for Agent Carter? Let me know in the comments!