“Agent Carter” premiere was every bit as fun and fantastic as you hoped

Agent Carter - Hayley Atwell as Peggy CarterOf all the supporting characters/love interests in the Marvel Studios universe, Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter is atop the list as the character fans can’t get enough of so it makes sense that Carter, not the Avengers’ lone female, The Black Widow, gets the distinction of being the first female Marvel character to have a standalone series/film.

There’s a lot working against the series. It’s a period show set in the 1940s, there’s not a lot of viable Marvel movie Easter Eggs and cameos and there’s no chance of an Avenger or SHIELD member making a guest appearance. But with Hayley Atwell, some clever writing and engaging action, the show has all that it needs to be another outstanding and tremendously entertaining cog in the Marvel Studios machine.

As World War II is over and the menace of The Red Skull and Hydra have been thwarted (for now) there’s little for Peggy to do, but try to stake out a non-demeaning role at the Strategic Scientific Reserve, or SSR. Her wartime experience fighting alongside Captain America means little to the SSR higher ups, specifically her supervisor Roger Dooley (Shea Whigham) and top SSR operative Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray). Carter puts them down with sharp quips as easily as Hydra goons, but I’m already weary of the SSR crew as the writers alternate between making them comic relief and an intelligence agency always a step behind Carter.

Agent Carter - Howard Stark and friendSome of Howard Stark’s (Dominic Cooper) weapons are being sold on the black market and Stark has been called to Congress for questioning. In a scene reminiscent of “Iron Man 2” where Howard’s son, Tony, is in the midst of a hearing, Howard charms the press and audience with his devil-may-care attitude and flippant responses.

The truth is, Howard is worried someone could put his weapons in the hands of some very bad people and is prepared to go into hiding after he recruits Carter to use her SSR resources to track down his missing files … preferably in about seven more episodes. “First Avenger” had such a terrific supporting cast and reuniting two of them really makes me greedy and hopes Marvel Studios can somehow find a way to have Tommy Lee Jones reprise his role as Col. Phillips for a clean sweep.

To help her out, Stark is giving Carter access to all of his weaponry and the use of his butler, Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy). Jarvis immediately becomes a scene-stealing character as he’s so far out of his element in Carter’s spy world when he would much rather prepare meals and prep the sheets for his wife at home. For Avengers fans who have been waiting on a live-action version of the team’s butler, D’Arcy delivers big time and is easily one of the show’s brightest spots.

agent carter - mystery manOne of the more surprising revelations of the show is the chemistry between Carter and Jarvis, which interestingly enough gives us the Batman/Alfred dynamic of the focused crime-solver afraid to get to close to anyone for fear of losing them and the caretaker who helps her appreciate all that life has to offer.

Carter’s first mission is to track down Stark’s molecular nitramene and her eavesdropping on a SSR planning session leads her to Spider Raymund’s (Andre Royo) nightclub. Atwell proves an adept chameleon as she goes undercover in several disguises. The first is a blonde bombshell to gain access to Spider’s files and the extremely volatile nitramene.

A mystery man is also after the material and he’s not afraid to kill to get answers. He’s working for a mysterious group known as Leviathan (a Hydra offshoot maybe?) and they’re communicating through some “Fringe” typewriters where the keys are being typed remotely onto the mystery man’s typewriter. Carter is more curious how the mystery man ties in to Leet Brannis (James Frain), the courier for large shipments of nitramene. Brannis also uses a voicebox device to be offer Carter a James Bond-type villain.Agent Carter - Peggy undercover as blonde

While the SSR is trying to learn the identity of the blonde who last saw Spider alive, Carter reluctantly accepts Jarvis’ aid in tracking down more leads. Jarvis isn’t as clueless as he’s letting on though and is carrying out a secret agenda for Stark. There’s a nice running joke throughout the episodes as Carter is continually annoyed anytime she hears the Captain America radio show. Carter and Jarvis track down the Brannis and the mystery man, and both appear to be killed in a crash. Brannis tries to write a message for Carter in the dirt, but succumbs to his injuries before he can complete it. Let the mystery commence.

The show would benefit from a bit more diversity though even if it’s just making “Captain America: The First Avenger” co-stars Derek Luke’s Gabe Jones and Kenneth Choi’s Jim Morita series regulars. While it’s historically accurate to not have blacks, Asians or Latinos as high-ranking members of the SSR, it’d be nice to see more minorities given more to do than simply be background characters or villain fodder.

Agent Carter - Chad Michael Murray as Jack ThompsonI wasn’t a huge fan of the after-hours subplot where Carter’s waitress Angie (Lyndsy Fonseca) is overly aggressive in wanting Carter to move into her building. Unless it’s leading to some twist, there’s gotta be better ways to give Carter something to do while she’s not on missions.

I was kind of amused at the constant reminders of the “Ant-Man” teaser trailer, as if that was the bigger draw in this case than watching Peggy Carter kick butt in her own show.

Only problem is the show has immediately found its voice and we’ve only got six more weeks of this mini-series and then it’s back to the misadventures of Skye and her SHIELD sidekicks. Hopefully, “Agent Carter” does well enough that it can at least be given more mini-series in the future if not an outright full season run. At this point, it’d be crazy to bet against Agent Carter doing the impossible.

  • keith

    I taped it, but havent watched it. I guess Im skeptical but you mentioned the elephant in the room for “us” . I mean im kind only want this concept in flash backs every so often (unless it truly great) but im ready for Marvel Tv to get into the marvel (heroes, powers, etc.) business. I only tolerate shield as I know a payout is coming… and the ladies are cute (carter is nice though lol) I think if they could this CAN only work for me as a summer series. Then they can be as cute and goofy as they want. Yet its heard in 2014 to watch token diversity on screen ( we better get trip grand dad on this show or his folks or something. Just do what leverage did have trip play his own grandpa?)

  • keith

    yet i get a feeling im going to like as i love that women accent and was the best part of the first avenger beside cap.

  • Give it a shot. I liked it a lot and Carter is a far more likeable lead than Skye.

    That would be fun to see Trip’s grandad.

  • You definitely will my friend.

  • keith

    just came from lunch.. not going to lie so far a fun diversion from cruching numbers. I think watching shows at certains times help the psychology with them lol. I just got past the blone wig. Usually not into blondes (but gotdamn) here i can make an exception. She is a little um more than what I thought lol. She is not a twig at all and im loving that. it is nice to see WIRE actors pop up but I know mean are weak to um fine ladies and all but I hate to see a good character actor go to waste and of course a blonde is his weakness.. hmm.. But I have to say she is still start wit of tongue and mind. I can see why marvel wanted to hold on to this lady. but yeah.. if they want to ever to a time warp episode that swaps out peggy for skye… do it. she is a grown woman.. not super hacker turned super spy turned into inhuman… skye/daisy/ kid sister person. Dont get me wrong skye the actor is not bad on my eyes. I would like to see her go undercover again. Yet something about her voice is kind of grating at times.. IDK.. yet in her bio she is a singer???? I need to hear this. I take it if they could replace skye with peggy for good you would be down lol.

  • keith

    sharp of wit

  • I don’t mind Skye per se, just the imbalance between her and the other characters regarding development. We know all we need to with Skye now, but what about Mac and Hunter and Morse?

    Glad you gave Agent Carter a chance 😉

  • keith

    Okay i watched it last night.. and you are right sir. It was fun and peggy carter is WAAAAAY better than sky. Its like if shield wasnt um stuck.. er committed to sky we could have a peppy, action packed jump of the series. Skey and raina suck the show down all lot. Peggy and Jarvis are great. This would have been a great 80’s show. Peggy and the butler lol . But its hard to watch the weird sexism/ devoidness of color. Its like another planet. But for a rather bloodless show, the hitman was scary enough. real creepy. I love the running gag of the corny captain american show. I love how they had to act those sounds by slapping meat. I think im all in.. and its better as a self contained miniseries.. so far.

  • keith

    we all on the skye/daisy/quake train.. choo choo. just give me more of mr hyde. he kills it and absopring man.

  • There you go! Figured you would enjoy it.
    It’s a lot of fun and I’m hoping next week continues this momentum.

  • I’d definitely like to see more of Absorbing Man and Hyde. Great villains for the show.

  • Aww man. That doesn’t sound fun. Hopefully you will be able to see it. I really enjoyed it!

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