With the announcement that Marvel Studios will be expanding its brand on the small screen with the Agent Carter TV series, it’s interesting to look at how the comic book movie studio has tried to pacify general audiences and fans between the release dates for their big superhero movies. It’s no coincidence that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. aired in between the releases of Thor: The Dark World and [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](movie:254973) with storylines and plot threads that extend from the big screen to the small. However, Agent Carter will be a different beast than Marvel’s first TV show, as the comic book movie studio might not disappoint fans with something that is shiny and new.
By all accounts, Agent Carter will be a better TV show than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. While ABC gave the go ahead to Marvel to start production on Agent Carter, it also renewed [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469). for a second season, despite its lackluster ratings and critical response. Although Agent Carter has yet to premiere on ABC, it’s already getting a much better response from comic book fans that will hopefully translate to high ratings.
13 vs. 22
Agent Carter will prove to be the more interesting and dynamic TV series because, refreshingly, ABC will make it a short order TV show with only a 13-episode first season instead of a traditional 22-plus episode story arc. While Agent Carter isn’t getting that coveted “full season” tag, it is getting something that audiences nowadays are hungry for, which is shorter seasons. A 13-episode season run is far more pleasing for audiences to commit to week-in-and-week-out with modern TV viewers committed to other high profile TV shows on broadcast networks and cable. Even if viewers are planning to binge watch Agent Carter weeks after it premieres, setting aside time to consume 13 episodes instead of 22 is an enticing way to spend a weekend. Agents of SHIELD’s 22-episode first season seems far more daunting and tedious to mainline or commit to on a week-to-week basis, which is why its ratings dropped from 12 million viewers from its series premiere to 5 million from its most current episode.
Marvel’s One Shots
Marvel Studios has already made Agent Carter a success as a One Shot short film. When Iron Man 3 was released on Blu-ray, back in September 2013, the movie was packaged with a short film called Agent Carter. While Marvel Studios merely made a One Shot film to further expand the Peggy Carter character, it was believed that the comic book movie studio was testing the waters for a future TV series with the short film acting as a backdoor pilot. Marvel fans loved the One Shot with Hayley Atwell reprising her role as the titular Agent Carter, Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark, Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan, and the new addition of Bradley Whitford as the smug Agent Flynn.
The short film was shot over the course of five days and takes place one year after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger in the year 1946. It also follows Peggy Carter working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), however, as a woman in the mid-40s, Carter is relegated to office administrative work instead of working out in the field as a badass agent (you know, sexism). While alone in the office, she takes a call about the whereabouts of the mysterious Zodiac. In true Peggy Carter fashion, she takes the secret mission and proceeds to kick ass, where her male counterparts could not. After which, she is awarded with a new secret mission as the new co-head of the newly formed S.H.I.E.L.D., along with Howard Stark. The new TV show will most likely follow the events of the One Shot. From Marvel Studios:
“Marvel’s Agent Carter,” starring Captain America’s Hayley Atwell follows the story of Peggy Carter. It’s 1946, and peace has dealt Peggy Carter a serious blow as she finds herself marginalized when the men return home from fighting abroad. Working for the covert SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), Peggy must balance doing administrative work and going on secret missions for Howard Stark all while trying to navigate life as a single woman in America, in the wake of losing the love of her life–Steve Rogers. Inspired by the feature films “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” along with the short “Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter.”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t have an introduction like Agent Carter, despite Agent Phil Coulson’s appearances in Iron Man, Thor, and The Avengers, and a handful of likeminded Marvel One Shot short films, including The Consultant, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer, and Item 47. When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered in 2013, audiences were only familiar with Agent Phil Coulson and had to be introduced to a whole new team of characters and S.H.E.I.L.D. agents. Agent Carter, on the other hand, might have the opportunity to follow the adventures of Captain America’s Howling Commandos and the freedom not to be tied to the on-going Marvel Cinematic Universe film series. Outside of a few wonderful moments, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has yet to wow audiences, when compared to the reaction behind the Marvel's Agent Carter One Shot.
“Starring Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter, "Marvel's Agent Carter" is executive produced by Christopher Markus, Steve McFeely, Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, Kevin Feige, Louis D'Esposito, Jeph Loeb.”
Hello Hayley Atwell!
While casting for Agent Carter is sparse, at the moment Hayley Atwell is the only actor confirmed for the new ABC series, it’s likely that Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, and Bradley Whitford would return as well. As far as star-power goes, Agent Carter already has the upper hand on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. already (sorry Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, and Chloe Bennet). Hayley Atwell will be very important for the overall success of Agent Carter, as she already proved that she could play the character in a memorable and exciting way. One of the reasons why Captain America: The First Avenger was successful was the performance of Hayley Atwell and her on-screen chemistry with Chris Evans (who might have a cameo appearance on the show, possibly in flashback form). If Atwell brings an ounce of that performance to the Agent Carter TV show then it’s already doing a much better job than Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D., a TV show that seems to struggle with personality and direction.
Hayley Atwell is very impressive and no one on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could hold a candle to her. Audiences will flock to catch her in a weekly TV series, especially female viewers who make up 51% of the TV-going audience. If the character of Peggy Carter is as strong, smart, clever, and charming as she is on the big screen, then she'll surely find an audience on the small screen.
Honestly, I want all of these Marvel projects to find success on the small screen. With the release of the new Marvel TV shows on Netflix in 2015 and the addition of Agent Carter, Marvel Studios only has given audiences compelling and entertaining stories on TV as they already have on the big screen. Perhaps we can even get more in-depth offerings from Marvel such as a Civil War or a Secret Invasion storyline on television screens instead of in movie theaters. But the fact of the matter is that Marvel Studios is continuing to expand in ways that no other movie studio has done before and Agent Carter’s success will be part of that impressive expansion.