There was a time when on-screen adaptations of comic book characters were kid-friendly, vibrant and full of light. We look back at Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman fondly, reminding us of a different time. Today, superheroes are often associated with dark, more realistic interpretations. Movies such as Batman Begins and the upcoming Deadpool have changed the old stereotype that superheroes and comic books are for mainly targeted at kids.
The most unique quality about [Marvel's Agent Carter](tag:1119765) is that it manages to maintain that vintage comic-like friendliness while not being afraid to patrol dark territory when needed. The series serves as a television sequel or spin-off to Captain America: The First Avenger, following Peggy Carter. The series has been a critical success, scoring 95% on Rotten Tomatoes for it's first season alone. Ben Travis of The Daily Telegraph says, "A strong script and a terrific female lead in Hayley Atwell makes Agent Carter one to watch".
However, despite critical praise and success, viewers for the series remain low. It's unfair to judge a series' worth on the initial viewers, especially today when we have catch-up services, DVR and boxsets. I myself only binged on the entire first season of Marvel's Agent Carter recently, and did it in a matter of days. If you're perhaps like me, maybe you've been meaning to watch this series for a while now but never found the time to do it. Despite being a DC fan at heart, I am going to explain to you why Marvel's Agent Carter is the show that I most look forward to, and why it's the best show that you're probably not watching.
Arguably, the most remarkable thing about the first season of Marvel's Agent Carter is that, very much in the style of British series, the storyline is an 8 episode narrative. Unlike the majority of superhero shows there is no villain of the week, instead it maintains an ongoing storyline over the course of 8 episodes. The storyline is as follows: The war is over and Peggy Carter is no longer seen as useful. Maintaining historical accuracy, Peggy is taken for granted, simply because of her gender. Working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), she is used only by her male bosses to get the lunch order, or to fetch tea. When Howard Stark's lethal weapons are stolen, he enlists the help of his former friend Carter, who (behind the SSR's back) teams up with Stark's butler Edwin Jarvis and together they attempts to retrieve the weapons before they fall into very dangerous hands. The playful friendship between Carter and Jarvis is the highlight for me, which is very much due to Atwell and James D’arcy’s chemistry.
Marvel's Agent Carter manages to deal with very serious, dark subject matter as well as maintaining a sense of humour. For the male SSR agents, Peggy is the least effective agent on their team - unfairly judging her based on her femininity. However, for the viewer, it's evident from the very beginning that she is the most effective at the job. I was skeptical, after completing the first season, if the series was going to be able to maintain it’s high standard. After all, the series was imagined as an eight-part storyline, how could it possibly continue? Surprisingly, the second season has started incredibly well and, after only three episodes, it's quickly becoming my favourite show on television. Setting up a completely separate arc from the first season (as well as a few remaining storylines from the first), the second season feels completely fresh yet familiar. The storylines are well paced and very much reflect the style of the films belonging to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Time Period
I'm a sucker for a good 1940's War drama. Marvel's Agent Carter takes place in 1946 - one year after Captain America: The First Avenger, and highlights the attitude towards women during a post-war world. The creators of the show have done a wonderful job at recreating the setting - specifically downtown New York which, even at 1080p HD, looks incredibly realistic. The outfits, hairstyles, music and establishments all reflect the time period wonderfully, making Marvel's Agent Carter visually stunning and unlike anything else on television.
Perhaps the best thing about Marvel (Unlike DC) is that their television shows take place within their cinematic universe, meaning that we get the pleasure of having the same actors return to their cinematic roles. Hayley Atwell is captivating as Peggy Carter. I have been a fan of hers and the character since I first saw Captain America: The First Avenger. In a world where women are not recognised as equals, Peggy Carter stands out and is not afraid to do whatever it takes to get the job done. James D'arcy is brilliant as Edwin Jarvis, Howard Stark's unfortunate yet caring butler, who forms a great partnership with Carter. With more hilarity than you may expect in such a show, their partnership and ultimately friendship is arguably the highlight of every episode. In fact, I would go as far to say that theirs is the best partnership currently on television. Dominic Cooper often returns as Howard Stark, who is as crude as he is caring. It's pleasant when beginning a new show, to be already acquainted with many of the characters.
A New Story
Marvel's Agent Carter ultimately brings an otherwise secondary character in to the spotlight. Peggy Carter's story has remained untold up until now, where the viewer is given the pleasure of discovering Carter as a person, rather than as Steve Roger's love interest. Many of the MCU films are taken directly from comic books, thus we are at least aware of the stories. In contrast, Marvel's Agent Carter gives us new stories, where we can speculate what's going to happen.
I like this one. If you're a fan of Marvel comics or the MCU (or just a total nerd like me), then you'll notice several moments in Marvel's Agent Carter that foreshadow the future of certain characters. Moments like this make me smile, knowing what's to come for the characters later down the line.
"Ready for another adventure, Miss. Carter?"
If you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then this show is for you. If you’re a DC fan (I personally would identify with DC more than Marvel), then the chances are you will enjoy the show too. If you just enjoy damn good television, then I can't recommend this show enough! I am a comic book geek: I watch nearly every superhero show on television (past and present - including the classic Batman and Wonder Woman series), yet I find myself looking forward to Marvel’s Agent Carter more than any other show on television. If you enjoyed the first season, I urge that you watch the second, as it continues a wonderfully crafted, well planned out storyline with some of the greatest fictional characters ever made. In the season two premiere, Jarvis asks Peggy Carter if she's ready for "another adventure". To answer that question for her: yes. I, for one, can’t wait for the next episode.
Marvel's Agent Carter airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on ABC.
In the UK, Season 2 premieres on FOX on Thursday 28th January at 9pm.