Agent Carter was the 8-part mini-series that replaced Agents of SHIELD on Tuesday nights for 2 months. This review is the spoiler-edition, intended for those who saw the show week to week. There is also a spoiler-free edition for those that did not see it and are wondering if they should watch it or not.
The story of Agent Carter basically begins with the story of Captain America. Hayley Atwell did a wonderful job portraying the British love interest in this story. Hearts were strained in numerous fans as Captain America promised his love one last dance before going on ice. Although Peggy Carter made her big return in a beautiful scene during Winter Soldier, this show picks up in the early days after the war.
As a story, I was underwhelmed by the story. Although there was a clear direction, many of the characters blended together. For the first four episodes, almost everyone in the SSR appeared to be the same bullheaded men in suits. There was the “crutch guy” who was different, but for the majority of the time I was underwhelmed by the characters and their development.
I was hoping that by the end of the last episode, I would feel some sense of suspense, or at least closure. I didn’t feel either. The end of the series felt like a set-up to season 2, which was not even on my radar going into what I thought was to be a stand-alone mini-series.
Don’t get me wrong. It was a fun time. I enjoyed putting it on Tuesday nights. I watched it and talked about it with friends. There were even some great scenes, such as the Chief’s death. Jarvis was a lot of fun. But as a whole, it felt very inconsequential to me. I was never afraid for the characters’ lives, because I had seen them alive later in other movies (Iron man 2 and Cap 2). I just didn’t see the point of the show, which leads me to section 2.
As a part of the MCU, the show was pointless. The show was pitched to the viewers as the origins of SHIELD. We would see how Agent Carter eventually founded SHIELD and possibly how Hydra weaved its tentacles into the midst of the organization. There was nothing of the type in the show. The MCU is basically no different because of Agent Carter.
There were a few nice nods to the rest of Marvel. It was good to see Howard Stark feel something (I appreciated his “searching for Cap”) and it was great to see Jarvis in the show. Jarvis was a primary character throughout the Avengers many-year history. It could be assumed that the young girls in Russia (and the blonde villain) was the early onset of the Black Widow program. In the comics, there were even two Black Widows, a redhead and a blonde. But there was not enough substance to adequately say that the villain was a Black Widow.
In the end, I kept looking for some connection to the modern MCU. I would have been content with the founding of SHIELD, the name Hydra mentioned, the name Black Widow mentioned, some villain introduced that would appear in modern movies or Agents of SHIELD, or something else to connect the story. There was nothing.
So I wonder why the show was made at all. What did it contribute to this Universe? I mentioned this to a friend of mine, who replied, “Does it have to connect? Can’t it be its own thing and just be fun?” I say that “just being fun” is not a good enough to resurrect characters and continue a story in a timeline that is not today. If the story was today, I could see it doing its own thing and just being fun. But if we are opening the retcon books, there had better be a reason. I think the show was mainly made because a feminist message would be easier to send in the masochist 1940’s, which of course leads me to my next section.
As a feminist story, the theme failed to strike a balance. The show at times bordered on the lines of preachy. I have no problem with a strong female character or even a feminist message, but the story ended up in the dangerous waters of degrading men in the effort of promoting women. The men at the SSR were, especially for the first half of the series, idiots.
The reason Black Widow is such a strong character is that she kicks butt alongside the men, saving their lives. That is what makes strong female characters such as Ms. Marvel (now, Captain Marvel) or She-Hulk. To have Agent Carter be the only one in a room with a clue does not prove that women are equal, but that men are inferior.
I’m not against the idea of a feminist message, but it was poorly executed in my opinion.
The show was fun. It was enjoyable to see old characters and it was something to watch on Tuesday nights, but it lacks the purpose and fun of the rest of the MCU. I saw no point in the show to link it in any way to the MCU. The feminist movement was even unfulfilling and poorly executed.
The show is a part of the MCU, but it’s the part that many of us will forget about of skip during marathons. There may be a season 2. If there is, then I expect to see more purpose to the show.
What did you think? I know that many of you reading this will disagree with this review. Let me know. As for the future of Peggy Carter and the retconning timeline, only time will tell.