Agent Carter is already off to a far better start than Agents of SHIELD when it began. With the first two hour long episode of Agent Carter, it’s looking to be another Marvel hit: the writing, tone, and pacing are all great. You can tell that a lot of thought went into making this show happen.
The show focuses on Carter readjusting to life in New York after the death of Steve Rogers. She now has to deal with a sexist workplace that doesn’t take her seriously, something the show sometimes beats over the audience’s heads. Hayley Atwell’s performance as Peggy is fantastic, and she really makes her come across as the strong, independent woman that she is. Granted, she already accomplished this in Captain America: The First Avenger, but it’s nice to see she hasn’t lost her touch. Now we get to see her deal with a world that doesn’t have Captain America, a loss that you see her carry throughout the show. Looking to make her mark on the world, Peggy is shown in serious contrast to others around her. While heavy handed, the shot of her walking among drably dressed men in her bright outfit fit was a nice touch.
On top of Atwell’s performance, the other standout role is James D’Arcy’s Edwin Jarvis. Jarvis is Howard Stark’s butler, assigned to help Peggy clear Stark’s name. He’s a real joy to watch; the dynamic between Jarvis and Peggy is something I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of, so I’m hoping he sticks around. I do wonder if by the end of the show we’ll get any explanation as to where Edwin is in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe, or at least how the Jarvis name meant enough to Tony that he named his AI butler after him.
Or why his hair began to thin.
People sometimes complain about Marvel films leaning to far into comedy. You simply won’t find a Marvel product without humor, even if their trailers threaten a dark movie. It’s really just a matter of when and how the humor is used that makes it work — a delicate balance. For example, Captain America: The Winter Solider was the darkest Marvel movie yet, but its minimal humor was done well, and alleviated tension. A movie like Thor: The Dark World had far too much humor, and it hurt the movie overall. That being said, Agent Carter’s humor was done incredibly well. Aside from a few flat or corny lines, there is plenty of good stuff here, from one-liners to side comments to subtle humor (like when the guy strapped in the chair sat down next to the car). But even with all the comedy, the writers were still able to bring a seriousness to the show and take it to dark places, the “green suit killer” being a standout — I was surprised in the best possible way to see them take it as far as they did.
The last things I’ll note are the set pieces and wardrobes: they bring a great style to the show. At times, however it felt overdone, almost as if someone tried too hard to match the time period. And with the set pieces comes CGI. This was a bit off at times, but not the worst I’ve ever seen. It was only really noticeable when the heroes were driving away at the end of the first hour.
See? Appropriate, but a bit goofy.
This first, or technically two, episodes were focused. They were well structured, and the story mattered. My only fear is that it could fall into a “Stark weapon of the week” story rut. But overall, Agent Carter is a refreshing dip into another corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that feels completely unique compared to anything Marvel has done so far. It’s another example of how you don’t need superheroes to have a compelling and interesting show. That being said, I do hope we see more top tier characters interacting with Peggy Carter — people like the Howling Commandos, and hopefully plenty of Howard Stark. I can’t wait to tune and follow Agent Carter in clearing Stark’s name. Starks are always causing some kind of trouble.
Article by contributor Russ Milheim.
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