Move over, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Peggy Carter is here. Marvel’s Agent Carter premiered last night with a two hour special, and it will air in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s time slot for seven weeks. The limited series kicked off with dynamic direction and fight choreography, clever writing, and a hugely charismatic lead.
World War II is over, Steve Rogers is presumed dead, and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is juggling a double life. Her cover is working for the telephone company, but she’s actually employed by the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR). It’s 1946, and as men return from the war overseas, they are replacing strong and talented women in the workforce. Peggy’s roommate Colleen O’Brien talks about how she lost her job as a riveter to an untrained soldier who has just returned from the war, and it’s interesting to see the same sexism affects Peggy as well. The boys of SSR office look past Carter’s contributions during the war, only valuing her for secretarial skills such as typing reports and serving coffee. Its a fun and interesting way to include social commentary, but in a very subtle and never overbearing way.
Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) has a safe full of dangerous inventions (He calls them “Bad Babies”) and someone has stolen them and selling the dangerous technology on the black market. Stark secretly approaches Agent Carter to prove his innocence in the case the government has against him. The most pressing item is a chemical formula that can create a volatile substance capable of leveling a large chemical factory with just a small amount of explosive. The formula has been sold to a mysterious group and they are deep in the manufacturing process. Carter will need to stop the production, discover who stole the weapons from Stark, and ultimately clear his name with the United States government.
This is Marvel’s first mini-series, and suggests that the Netflix productions of Daredevil and Luke Cage have strong potential. It’s also Marvel’s first attempt to focus on a female hero, and Peggy Cater isn’t just a strong female character, she’s strongly written. She’s smart, tough, able to kick ass, but she is also vulnerable and emotional. Pegg has no problem embracing her femininity and using it to her advantage when needed. She can gain access to Mr. Raymond’s office, break into his safe, recover the chemical, all while wearing a stunning gown, blonde wig, and making it look easy.