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Should Marvel Turn 'Agent Carter' Into A Full Series?

Jennifer Kuan |
September 29, 2013 | 5:11 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Hayley Atwell's Peggy Carter is an ass-kicking female character with the potential to succeed on television (Twitter).
Hayley Atwell's Peggy Carter is an ass-kicking female character with the potential to succeed on television (Twitter).

In the recent DVD release of "Iron Man 3," Marvel included the short film "Agent Carter" as an extra. The one-shot featured the return of Peggy Carter from "Captain America: The First Avenger," played by Hayley Atwell. Marvel has employed this technique several times in the past, most notably with "Item 47." That short became the starting point for the new television series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." ("S.H.I.E.L.D."), and Deadline has reported that Marvel is looking to do the same with "Agent Carter."

Would this decision be a wise move for Marvel?

If they execute it well, then yes—without a doubt.

It may seem redundant to ask that a television series is well-written, well-directed and well-cast, but considering the history of female-led superhero movies, it has to be said. There has been a succession of poorly written films that were box office flops ("Catwoman," Elektra," "Supergirl"), and this has created a stigma against female superhero movies and females in superhero movies. Stan Lee himself recently said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that there was no need to "knock ourselves out" looking for a female protagonist because women were coming out to Marvel's movies in greater numbers than ever.

In light of this statement, the possibility of a TV series starring a woman is a step in the right direction.

READ MORE: Superheroes And Sexism: An Open Letter To Marvel

Marvel has already solidified its plan for Phase Two in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and though Scarlett Johansson will be reprising her role as Natasha Romanoff (also know as Black Widow) in both "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "The Avengers: Age of Ultron," there are no female-led movies in the works. A successful "Agent Carter" series would do much to break the stereotypes associated with women in superhero franchises, and it could even trigger a female protagonist in Phase Three.

Though Marvel has been incredibly successful with Phase One, many fans, especially new ones, are looking to see Marvel evolve as a franchise. There is a lot of push from the fandom for a Black Widow feature or another female-centric movie. If Marvel wants to keep their expanding fanbase, they need to take these voices into account.

But why Peggy Carter, and not somebody else?

This particular spin-off has the potential to be incredibly successful for two key reasons.

1. Period pieces are in.

If the success of "Mad Men" and "Downton Abbey" are any indicator, today's TV audience responds well to an effective period piece. Peggy Carter's role in "Captain America" is set during World War II, and presents the opportunity to explore a rich historical background. Setting the series in this time frame would also provide the writers of both "Agent Carter" and "S.H.I.E.L.D." more creative freedom—they wouldn't have to worry about contradicting one another's canon. MCU is already so expansive that adding another contemporary franchise would cause too much clutter.

2. Peggy Carter herself.

As well as being a strong character within the Marvel universe, Carter on her own has much to offer television. Military women are rarely represented on TV, and a Carter-centric series would both fill this niche and appeal to Marvel fans. Atwell's performance in "Captain America" was a hit, earning her character a loyal fanbase on Tumblr. One of her most notable scenes involves her firing her gun at Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, in order to test his shield. These moments resonate well with viewers, and Carter's no-nonsense, ass-kicking characterization permits for plenty of them.

However, this does not mean that Marvel should greenlight the project no matter what.

A huge part of the fandom buzz for "S.H.I.E.L.D." revolved around Clark Gregg's reprisal of his role as Agent Phil Coulson in "The Avengers." This contributed to a staggering debut for the series, with Entertainment Weekly reporting that "S.H.I.E.L.D." had the highest-rated drama pilot in nearly four years. That is no small feat. Atwell already has a demanding schedule, and there is no confirmation that she would be able to commit to a starring role in a TV series.

Should Atwell be unable to commit to the series, then Marvel should drop "Agent Carter" altogether and try a different project (Sif from "Thor," anybody?). The Peggy Carter from "Captain America" has a dedicated following in the Marvel fandom, but a recast could prove less successful, at worst alienating fans from the series altogether.

This is an exciting possibility for fans. If Marvel plays their cards right, they could debut a successful military woman television series and use "Agent Carter" to bring more well-executed, female-led projects to their franchise.

Reach Staff Reporter Jennifer Kuan here and follow her on WordPress here.



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