You know, the next time I have the nerve to doubt Marvel, I should really just slap myself. Because I didn’t think The Avengers would work, and I was kind of uncertain about Guardians of the Galaxy, too. But we all know how those worked out. Even so, when I saw the trailer for ABC’s Agent Carter mini-series, I was all, “Meh. Looks kinda boring.” But you know what? I watched the two-episode premiere, and it’s actually a lot more fun than you might think. In fact, I think this premiere is slightly better than the premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—the first and second premieres. But let’s talk about the particulars and you can decide for yourself.
What I liked:
- Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter. I liked Carter okay in Captain America: The First Avenger, but she never blew me away. Here, we get a much more in-depth look at the tough, spunky super spy, and I find myself growing very fond of her. It’s an uphill battle for a woman to be treated as an equal in post-WWII America, but as I watch Carter in her clever disguises, kicking ass and sleuthing circles around her male co-workers, I am very pleased to see that she’s up for the challenge.
- The ‘40s atmosphere. I’ve always loved the look and style of the ‘40s, and it’s brought to life in a really fun way here. Combine that style with a comic book storyline, and it’s a treat to watch.
- James D’Arcy as Edwin Jarvis. I’m only two episodes in, but I already love this character and the relationship he has with Carter. The prim and proper butler to Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), Jarvis is ordered by his employer to help Carter as she works to clear Stark’s name. Though he’s initially put off by the idea of “after hours” work that could affect his ability to do the laundry, cook dinner, be in bed by 9 p.m., or anything else that could strain his relationship with his wife, he’s quickly caught up in the action and eager to help Carter—even when she tries to sideline him. Jarvis is pretty hilarious and adorable. I’m eager to see how his partnership with Carter develops.
- The cool technology. Really, you can almost always count on Marvel when it comes to this, and Agent Carter doesn’t disappoint. Carter’s got a pretty nifty safe cracker and this crazy gun that blinds people. Plus, there’s a great scene where she diffuses a strange bomb, and the effects are just great.
- The flashbacks to Captain America: The First Avenger. They’re scattered throughout the episode as a reminder of how fresh the loss of Cap is to Carter. Since he was immediately brought into present day for us, the viewers, it’s easy to forget that Steve Rogers was mourned and thought to be dead for 60+ years in the Marvel world. To see Carter struggling with that loss makes her real and relatable. Because who wouldn’t mourn the loss of that pretty, pretty man…sigh…Oh, sorry. Got sidetracked. Where were we?
What I didn’t like:
- Sometimes, the male characters’ behavior toward women feels a little forced. It’s like their whole “this is men’s work and women should have no part of it” attitude is exaggerated simply to make Carter more impressive. But the thing is, Carter doesn’t need the extra help—she’s already Naturally, I’m all for strong female characters, but I’d rather the material not become patronizing or lose subtlety altogether when addressing the “girl power” of it all. Does that make sense? I guess I’m just thinking of Outlander, which has a female lead facing similar issues, yet the show addresses it in a much more realistic (and more subtle) way. But this is a comic book world we’re dealing with here, so I suppose there’s that to consider.
- Is it just me or is Marvel giving us two different versions of Howard Stark? Admittedly, I don’t remember much about Cooper’s interpretation of him in Captain America: The First Avenger, but on this show Stark is referred to as a playboy billionaire much like his son, Tony (Robert Downey Jr.). My question is how does he become the stern gentleman from the Iron Man series who seems like the polar opposite of all this? I’d really like to see the show address this because right now, Stark seems like a far cry from future Stark.
- I’m not really digging this mysterious, typewriting bunch of villains yet. If Marvel has one problem, it’s creating solid villains. Aside from Loki, Red Skull, and the Winter Soldier (and the Mandarin/Trevor Slattery, though I know a lot of people wouldn’t count him), I could take or leave most of the Marvel villains I’ve seen (excluding the X-Men and Spider-Man villains). So far, same goes for this evil organization on Agent Carter. Stop showing me the damn typewriter and give me an interesting figurehead already.
- Peggy winding up at the Griffin Hotel. She has the opportunity to stay at one of Stark’s mansions, yet she instead chooses an all-women’s hotel with strict visitation rules. Like, is this really where a spy would choose to live? Seems both boring and inconvenient, but I guess we’ll see…
The Potential: I think Agent Carter has plenty of potential! I appreciate and admire Marvel’s efforts to highlight some of their kickass female characters, and I think Agent Carter is a great one to focus on. So far, this show is every bit as action-packed and entertaining as you’d expect from a Marvel show. Brief though its run may be, I’m excited to see what Agent Carter does.
My Grade: A-