I know that not everyone is a fan of Marvel’s recent forays into television. There can be an implied obligation to watch the shows to ensure nothing is missed between films, and I can understand why that’s a turn-off. I’m not going to defend either side of the argument, nor am I going to sing the praises of Agents of SHIELD here. However, with the announcement of Agent Carter, I wanted to take a moment to point out, from a high-level perspective, what a good thing this is.
For those of you who don’t know, the character of Agent Carter was introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger. Played by Hayley Atwell, Margaret “Peggy” Carter was part of the group that recruited Steve Rogers, assisting in his training and giving him guidance. She’s more than capable of holding her own in a fight, demonstrates intelligence and poise, and even presented herself in a way that you wouldn’t be surprised to find reproduced on the nose-cone of a B-17 bomber. Quite well-rounded and polished, she was definitely an equal to the all-American Super Soldier.
Marvel produced a one-shot that featured Carter on her own. Set a year after the events of the film, Carter is working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve, where the male leadership see her as little more than a glorified secretary. She takes it upon herself to follow up on a lead that seems insignificant and uncovers a major potential threat. In the wake of her heroism, Howard Stark approaches her to become part of the organization that will become known as SHIELD, and that is more than likely the jumping-off point for the series.
I have no idea if the show is going to be good or not. So far, Marvel has demonstrated high production values, excellent world-building (even if it was a touch slow in Agents of SHIELD – it got better), and good characterization. This leads me to believe that Agent Carter will be just fine in that regard. But let’s not overlook the fact that this show, with a female protagonist in a time period when such a thing would be inconceivable to the rich, conceited men in charge of the entertainment industry, just got greenlit, whereas Wonder Woman can’t get more than a cameo in someone else’s movie.
Marvel’s track record isn’t perfect. Iron Man 2 was probably their roughest outing so far, but it did introduce us to Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of the Black Widow, another character who has really come into her own, especially in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While Jane Foster & Darcy are overshadowed by the Asgardians in the Thor films, Lady Sif has no trouble standing shoulder to shoulder with Thor and the other demigods of that world. Pepper Potts and Maria Hill definitely have strong characters of their own, and Agents of SHIELD‘s ensemble is a good balance of male and female alike. It’s things like this that, more and more, make it look like DC simply can’t get its shit together. I hear good things about their Arrow television series, but I’ve honestly been too busy keeping up with Agents of SHIELD to get up to speed with that show.
Not unlike when Sony started running away with a good portion of the video game industry while Sega struggled to keep up, Marvel continues to outstrip the competition. With Agent Carter, that is still the case, but it’s more in the sense of progressiveness than profit. Again, I have no idea if the show will actually be good – I certainly hope it is. But the fact that the show exists at all, let alone greenlit for a run on one of the United States’ biggest television networks, feels to me like a universal good, a step in the right direction, and another reason that, until Superman stops brooding and Batman gets his throat fixed, you can Make Mine Marvel.
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