Ever since the dawn of time, comparisons have been made between things, and this post is no different. In the MCU there are two different entities which are synonymous with each other - Howard Stark's faithful butler, Edwin Jarvis and Tony Stark's trusted AI, JARVIS. We were first introduced to the computer JARVIS in Iron Man at the birth of the MCU, while Edwin came along later in Agent Carter. Both are integral parts of the worlds they inhabit - but which is better?
A word of warning - there may be some spoilers in this post, so tread lightly. Though if you are up to date with the MCU you should be fine (by that I mean you have finished Agent Carter Season Two).
First, How Are They Similar?
Before I talk about their differences, first I'd like to highlight their similarities. The most obvious one, of course, is the name. JARVIS was created by Tony Stark in homage to his father's butler. JARVIS is an acronym for Just A Rather Very Intelligent System, but the tribute is obvious. The companion comics that expand the MCU have shown Edwin looking after a young Tony, so it is obvious that he made quite an impression upon the young Stark.
JARVIS serves the same purpose as his namesake - the upkeep and running of Tony Stark's home. JARVIS is capable of performing many of the same tasks that Edwin Jarvis would for Howard Stark, ranging from answering the door to sarcastically remarking to his boss. Yes, even the artificial intelligence has a wicked sense of humour. Both Jarvises come in useful when building things as well, Edwin often helps Howard design his inventions, while JARVIS is involved in the creation of the Iron Man armour.
Now I'd like to focus more specifically on the two Jarvises and explain their differences, starting with Edwin Jarvis.
"An ideal butler provides service without being asked."
Howard Stark's faithful butler is first introduced into the MCU in Agent Carter. He swiftly becomes an integral part of Peggy's quest in season one to clear Howard Stark's name while also proving his worth once more during Season Two's quest to stop Whitney Frost. He is extremely loyal, whether it is to Mr. Stark or Miss Carter, and will often go above and beyond the call of duty to help them. This is demonstrated excellently in the season two finale when he is held up at gunpoint in Howard's mansion, yet still manages to deliver the mustard he was initially sent for.
He is very intelligent, which is shown when he is involved with Howard's experiments with the Zero Matter in Season Two. Though sometimes he is prone to emotional outbursts. He goes through quite an emotional arc in Season Two with the on-screen introduction of his wife, Ana. Jarvis becomes particularly emotional when his wife is involved and in season two, James D'Arcy is given a lot of heavy material involving Ana. After she is shot, Jarvis discovers that Ana will be unable to have children, a secret that he tries to keep from her. Ultimately, after a heated discussion with Peggy, the truth comes out.
He also offers some sage advice throughout the series. Edwin will be quick to point out the dangers of Peggy's dalliances to save the world. He tells Peggy that nobody is able to carry the world on their shoulders.
“You know, these adventures? They’re only enjoyable if you return from them.”
Jarvis often serves as the comic relief on Agent Carter. Initially he is reluctant to help Peggy with her mission after 9pm as that is his bedtime and he is very irritated when he is being shot at while driving a milk truck full of explosives. After Howard Stark installs a new security system, Jarvis is even offered this slightly fourth-wall breaking line:
"I have no desire to spend the rest of time as a disembodied voice."
Which brings us nicely on to JARVIS, the artificial intelligence that eventually becomes The Vision. JARVIS has been in the MCU as long as any other character. He is initially introduced in Iron Man as the slightly sarcastic operating system of Stark's mansion and, eventually, the Iron Man armour. He is every bit as faithful as his namesake, though it is possible that JARVIS is unable to say no. As a programme created by Tony Stark, he will not have the free will that Edwin Jarvis does (until of course he evolves into The Vision). JARVIS might not have free will, but he is able to show initiative. When Tony Stark takes the nuclear bomb through the wormhole to stop the Chitauri at the end of The Avengers JARVIS asks if he should call Pepper Potts, Tony of course says yes.
JARVIS is an incredibly powerful AI and is arguably the most advanced computer system in the MCU to date. This can be seen when he is able to completely recreates the scene of the first Extremis bombing we see during Iron Man 3, complete with virtual Happy Hogan on the floor. We also see this in Iron Man when Tony is designing his armour. It could be argued that JARVIS is more intelligent than his predecessor as he is a highly advanced machine that is constantly evolving. He eventually becomes The Vision after hiding himself in the internet after Ultron thinks he has destroyed him.
Unlike Edwin Jarvis, JARVIS is able to remain calm and emotionless - perhaps an advantage of being a machine. Without emotions to affect his judgement he is able to quickly make decisions after calculating all the possible outcomes of his actions. This does bring about an interesting debate about Man vs Machine...
All in all, both characters bring a great deal to their world. The MCU is certainly a better place with them in it. I honestly don't know which I prefer, I have said I think Edwin is the best thing about Agent Carter (but I actually really love the entire show) but I also love JARVIS's banter with Tony Stark.