When Marvel announced they had began to work on an Agent Carter spin-off, we were deliriously happy. The happiness swelled into ecstasy when set photos started emerging, and with the teaser trailers we basically flat-lined. Then our hearts were ripped out and stomped on when UK broadcasters failed to pick up the first season. It was starting to look like all hope was lost.
But almost six months after the US premiere, FOX UK sprung out of nowhere and adopted the series. As it turns out, Agent Carter was worth the wait.
When we join Peggy Carter (played by the ineffable Hayley Atwell), she’s pretty down on life. The war is over, Steve Rogers is presumed dead, and the SSR is treating her more like a secretary than an agent. She’s making coffee and taking lunch orders when she should be making enemies and taking names.
But when Howard Stark (a returning Dominic Cooper) and his butler Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) semi-kidnap her one night to request her help, Peggy’s life is suddenly flipped – not upside down, but the way it used to be. What ensues is eight episodes of badassery and unequivocal fun.
Peggy’s character had, of course, already been established in Captain America, but the Peggy we get to know in Agent Carter feels entirely new. She’s now the focal point of the story, and Atwell does a terrific job of not letting us forget it. Unlike many of the big players in the Marvel universe, Peggy feels like a real person.
She may be stern, strong and sassy, but she’s also caring and, at times, emotionally vulnerable. She’s like Mary Poppins with military training and access to SSR files. She’s fascinating and engaging, and watching her build a trusting working relationship with the sarcastic and often hilarious Jarvis is an absolute joy.
Agent Carter is a slap in the face to every show that doesn’t treat female characters with the respect they deserve. It’s sighing, ‘Come on, now. It’s not that difficult,’ while demonstrating how action TV should be done. Marvel Cinematic Universe, take note.