When it was announced that Marvel and ABC would be creating a spinoff of Captain America spotlighting Agent Peggy Carter, I…sort of cheered? Fans had been hoping for a Black Widow solo outing, or any female superhero feature, but at least this would highlight a female-driven comic book movie. The abysmal Elektra and Catwoman movies have made studios skittish about the lady superheroes, so with a Wonder Woman film tabled until 2017, and a female Captain Marvel not coming out until 2018, Agent Carter would be the first chance so see a comic book show centered around a woman.
Origin stories are always rough to present, as fans already know how the hero came to be and generally just want everyone to hurry up and get to the smashing. CW’s The Arrow bypassed this by getting right to his crime-fighting and unfolding his pathway through flashbacks, and then jumpstarted The Flash by introducing him there. In contrast, the films of Superman and Spiderman forced audiences to yet another interpretation of their origin until we could get to the good stuff.
Ideally, Agent Carter could also have skipped past an origin story since she had already been introduced, fully formed, in the first Captain America movie. Instead, what we received was a sidelined agent who had regressed from being a kickass partner to Captain America and saving the world to being a secretary who took lunch orders and filed the paperwork. Of course, as we saw in the One Shot extra included on blu-rays, Agent Carter would soon be going out on her own to take down enemy spies, but within her own agency she was still treated as an inept girl.
I adored the two hour pilot of Agent Carter, but having the show back-pedal within her our office in order to protect her “identity” was a chore. Peggy Carter was facing the same sexism faced by other women who lost whatever independence they had in the workplace once the war ended, but it was particularly grating in this setting after seeing her be so great. Even Tommy Lee Jones respected her as an equal, so one would think that there would have been some run-off within the S.S.R. As historically accurate it may have been to have Peggy Carter downgraded to being essentially a secretary, it was a bummer to watch. By the finale she does finally get the respect of her office, only to have it undercut and stolen by the one agent who knew exactly how capable and extraordinary Peggy Carter was as an agent.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the show or that there wasn’t a lot great about it. I would definitely tune-in again if it gets a second season. Carter’s relationship with Jarvis was great, and I especially loved how they never had her resort to “honeypotting” or using her “wiles” to seduce an agent. Instead she was able to use her intelligence and stellar detective skills. Then she smashed. At this point, I guess it will have to be enough.