Agent Carter
Genre
Created by
Based on
Starring
ComposerChristopher Lennertz
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes4 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
ProducerSara E. White
Production locationLos Angeles, California
CinematographyGabriel Beristain
Running time40 – 42 minutes
Production companies
Original release
NetworkABC
ReleaseJanuary 6, 2015 (2015-01-06) –
present (present)
Related

Marvel's Agent Carter, or simply Agent Carter, is an American television series created for ABC by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, inspired by the films Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the Marvel One-Shot short film of the same name.[2] It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise.

The series features the Marvel Comics character Peggy Carter, with Hayley Atwell reprising her role from the film series, as she must balance doing administrative work and going on secret missions for Howard Stark while trying to navigate life as a single woman in 1940s America. Several characters from Marvel Cinematic Universe films, Marvel One-Shots, and other Marvel Cinematic Universe television series appear throughout the series. It is produced by ABC Studios and Marvel Television, with Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, and Chris Dingess serving as showrunners.

The series was officially ordered on May 8, 2014, and debuted on January 6, 2015, during the season two mid-season break of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Premise

In 1946, Peggy Carter must balance the routine office work she does for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (S.S.R) while secretly assisting Howard Stark, who finds himself framed for supplying deadly weapons to the top bidder. Carter is assisted by Stark's butler, Edwin Jarvis, to find those responsible and dispose of the weapons.[2][3]

Cast and characters

Main

An officer with the Strategic Scientific Reserve.[2] Atwell said it was "thrilling" to explore "the backdrop of this male-dominated world, where women are still in the workforce, unspoken for and struggling to find a place outside the home" and how it affects Carter, who must deal with this along with the missions she receives.[4] Butters has said that "her superpower is the fact that other people underestimate her. And she often uses that to her advantage, because she doesn’t have superstrength."[5] Speaking about the influence that the apparent death of Steve Rogers has on Peggy, Atwell explained that "It's only been a year and she's grieving him and I think what keeps her going is he was the greatest person she ever knew – even before he took the serum and became Captain America. She knew his character and she saw a kindred spirit in him. So I think she's grieving the loss of him but she's also determined to make sure that his work wasn't in vain. That gives her a tremendous amount of determination to carry on despite the obstacles that she comes across."[6]
Howard Stark's butler and ally to Carter,[7] who will eventually be a tutor to Tony Stark and inspire his J.A.R.V.I.S. artificial intelligence.[8] Atwell referred to Carter's relationship with Jarvis as the series' "comic relief", and said "they’re forced together. He’s been told that he has to work with her and be available to her. But I think, from her point of view, she doesn’t need any help. But she needs someone who is in contact with Howard to help kind of run this mission. So they have this very witty banter back and forth ... They both have that wit and that satire. Their language is a game of chess".[6] D'Arcy was nervous about portraying Jarvis's comedic side, given his history of "predominantly play[ing] psychopaths".[9]
A war veteran and agent with the S.S.R.[10] described as chauvinistic and "chest-puffing".[5][11] Murray compared the character to Indiana Jones, and stated that "he's working his way up to become the head of the S.S.R. His goal in life is to just be great at his job. So he has a large chip on his shoulder, which gives him an attitude."[10]
A war veteran who is an agent with the S.S.R. and experiences prejudice due to his crippled leg, allowing him to relate to Carter.[12][11] "He was a soldier, and he had been very active all his life, and now he has to figure out how to use his brains, how to try to be smart," Gjokaj explained of the character. "He accepts his injury, he accepts his compromised status in society ... Peggy says, ‘Forget this. I'm Peggy Carter. I'm going to do something else.’ I think that's the difference between the two of them."[13] Considering a potentially romantic relationship between Sousa and Carter, Gjokaj said, "I think there’s definitely a situation where … if she hadn’t dated Captain America, he might ask her out for a drink. It’s like if your new girlfriend dated Ryan Gosling. It’s going to make you sweat a bit."[14]
The S.S.R. chief who oversees agents Carter, Thompson, and Sousa.[15] Because of a lack of "rich comic book history to draw from", Whigham created his own background for the character, on which he said "I don't think Dooley is a political appointee. I think I worked my way up through good hard work. I don't think I'm a politician in any respect. Dooley's got a pretty wicked sense of humor."[16] Unlike many of the other agents, Whigham believes that Dooley does respect Carter, saying "I think he likes her. I think he cares deeply. I'm not sure that he can always show that, but I think you'll see that he cares deeply about Carter. And these are things that keep him up at night, as well as the other boys, when I send them out on missions."[16]

Recurring

The father of Tony Stark, and a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D.[18][19] In describing the character, Cooper said "He's up to all sorts of things. You don't know what he does in the depths of the evening, and he's gallivanting around. So he's a fun person to play. I love dipping into or researching a bit of it, and seeing some of that material of Howard Hughes, which I'm sure he's kind of been likened to. There's certainly a sort of swagger about him, which I like to observe and steal ... That's my challenge with that character as well, is to not make it too broad and go too far. It's about keeping it very realistic, but at the same time, tongue-in-cheek as well."[20]

Guest

Stan Lee cameos in "The Blitzkrieg Button",[33][29] while Chris Evans appears in "Now is Not the End" as Steve Rogers / Captain America via archive footage from Captain America: The First Avenger.[34] Carter's husband will be explored in the series.[4]

Episodes

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.S. viewers
(millions)
1"Now is Not the End"Louis D'EspositoChristopher Markus & Stephen McFeelyJanuary 6, 2015 (2015-01-06)6.91[35]
In 1946, Peggy Carter, mourning the apparent death of her lover Steve Rogers, returns to work for the Strategic Science Reserve in New York City. The S.S.R. investigates industrialist Howard Stark, who has disappeared, for apparently selling weapons to US enemies. Stark secretly reaches out to Carter, and asks her to help him clear his name. Before he leaves, he tells her about his formula for molecular nitramene that is going to be sold at a club. Infiltrating the club in disguise, Carter learns that the formula has been weaponized. Carter shows a nitramene bomb to Stark Industries scientist Anton Vanko, who deduces that it came from a Roxxon Oil refinery. Carter and Stark's butler, Edwin Jarvis, investigate the refinery, where they encounter Leet Brannis. Brannis, who works for "Leviathan", escapes with a truck full of the nitramene weapons. Before leaving, Brannis drops a weapon that destroys the entire building as Carter and Jarvis escape.
2"Bridge and Tunnel"Joseph V. RussoEric PearsonJanuary 6, 2015 (2015-01-06)6.91[35]
Carter goes undercover again to search for the truck with the weapons, and finds the address of the truck's official driver. The S.S.R. agents interrogate Miles Van Ert, the Roxxon scientist who made the weapons, and learn of the address as well. Carter and Jarvis arrive at the house first, and find Brannis, who they force to go with them. The three are attacked by a man who works for Leviathan, the organization that Brannis has betrayed. Carter fights the man, but he still manages to mortally wound Brannis. Jumping to safety with Carter and Brannis, Jarvis forces the truck to careen off a cliff with the attacker, and the weapons inside implode. Before he dies, Brannis draws a symbol in the dirt. S.S.R. agents Dooley, Thompson, and Sousa later arrive to find Brannis's body, a woman's footprints, and a hotel key (belonging to the attacker). Meanwhile, Agent Krzemenski, sifting through the remains of the Roxxon refinery, finds the license plate for Stark's car that Jarvis and Carter used to get away.
3"Time and Tide"Scott WinantAndi BushellJanuary 13, 2015 (2015-01-13)5.10[36]
Thompson and Sousa take Jarvis in for interrogation, and the former threatens him with revealing a former treason charge to the immigration office. Carter, feigning ignorance, botches the interrogation to get Jarvis out, and receives a stern reprimand from Dooley. With Jarvis free, he and Carter follow the sewer system below Stark's vault, through which Brannis took the stolen technology, to the docks, where they find the weapons on board The Heartbreak, a ship with Brannis' symbol on it. Jarvis telephones the S.S.R., anonymously giving their location to Sousa, while Carter fights off a guard who had been working with Brannis. Carter and Jarvis are forced to leave him behind as the S.S.R. arrives. While being transported back to S.S.R. headquarters by Krzemenski, the guard is about to identify Carter as the woman interfering with the Stark investigation, when an unidentified assassin kills them both.
4"The Blitzkrieg Button"Stephen CraggBrant EnglesteinJanuary 27, 2015 (2015-01-27)4.63[37]
After learning that Brannis and the Leviathan attacker, Sasha Demidov, were supposed to have died during the Battle of Finow, Dooley travels to Germany to speak with the Nazi colonel who lead the opposing forces, and though he doesn't learn how Brannis and Demidov survived, Dooley does discover that their Russian forces were seemingly massacred before the Nazis even arrived. With Carter's only job to collect lunch orders, she meets up with Stark, who has secretly returned in the wake of his technology's discovery. Looking at photographs Carter takes of the weapons, he identifies one of them as the Blitzkrieg Button, which he claims can cause a permanent blackout throughout the city. However, a suspicious Carter opens the device to find a vial of Steve Rogers' blood. Angry at Stark for lying to her, she hides the vial. The criminal who smuggled Stark into New York, but was scammed out of his money by Carter and Jarvis, follows Carter back to her apartment, but he is killed by her new neighbor Dottie Underwood.
5"The Iron Ceiling"[38]Peter LetoJose MolinaFebruary 3, 2015 (2015-02-03)TBD
6"A Sin to Err"[39]Stephen WilliamsLindsey AllenFebruary 10, 2015 (2015-02-10)TBD
7"SNAFU"[40]TBATBAFebruary 17, 2015 (2015-02-17)TBD
8"Valediction"[40]TBATBAFebruary 24, 2015 (2015-02-24)TBD

Production

Development

Initial ideas for a series began in July 2013 by Louis D'Esposito, after the screening of the Agent Carter One-Shot at San Diego Comic-Con International.[5] By September 2013, Marvel Television was developing a series inspired by the short film, featuring Peggy Carter, and was in search of a writer for the series.[41] In January 2014, ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee confirmed that the show was in development, and added that Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas would act as the series' showrunners;[42] Chris Dingess also serves as a showrunner.[14] In March 2014, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely stated that they envisioned the series, which had not yet been greenlit, as a limited series of approximately 13 episodes[43] By April 2014, there were indications that the series would be ordered straight to series, bypassing a pilot order, and would air between the late 2014 and early 2015 portions of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., if that series got a second season renewal.[44]

On May 8, 2014, ABC officially ordered the series,[45] and later confirmed that Agent Carter would air between the 2014 finale and 2015 premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., beginning January 6, 2015.[46][47] Later in May, star Hayley Atwell stated that the series would consist of eight episodes.[48] Executive producers for the series include Butters, Fazekas, Markus, McFeely, Dingess, Kevin Feige, Louis D'Esposito, Alan Fine, Joe Quesada, Stan Lee, and Jeph Loeb.[3] At San Diego Comic-Con 2014, D'Esposito revealed that Captain America: The First Avenger director Joe Johnston was interested in directing episode four;[49] however, the episode was directed by Stephen Cragg.[29] In January 2015, Fazekas and Butters confirmed that the series was not intended to be a miniseries, that a second season is possible, and that it would not necessarily be limited to eight episodes.[50]

Writing

It's a really rich period in history, where this giant opposition we had going for 10 years with the Nazis is gone, and we're not completely positive what the rules are anymore. Who gets the scientists? Who gets the secrets? It's all on the table. Everyone developed these skills in World War II. People became spies, people became murderers. And suddenly the war was over, and they came back, and it's like, 'Wow, I know how to do some shit. Now, what do I do with this?' It's nice to play with that assortment of characters. An office, basically full of people who just came back from the war. There's no telling what any of them experienced last year," with McFeely adding, "We have a tendency to think of history as this fixed thing–'Oh, that's right. Good guys won, 1945. Then it was the '50s.'–It's just not the case. Everything was up for grabs for quite a while, and murky. We didn't know we really won.

—Christopher Markus on exploring the dynamic of characters set in the 1940s.[4]

By January 2014, a script for the pilot was written by Markus and McFeely, writers on the Captain America films.[42] They stated in March that the series would be set in 1946, occurring in the middle of the timeline established in the One-Shot, and would focus on one case for Carter. Additional seasons would then advance a year and examine a new case.[43] In July, Butters and Fazekas revealed that writing for the rest of the series would begin in August 2014.[51] The showrunners turned to several different influences outside of Marvel in developing the series, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, L.A. Confidential, and the works of author James Ellroy.[14]

In July 2014, Fazekas stated that it was "fabulous from a writing perspective" to have an eight episode order, as "it's a really nice number where you can plan it and know where you're heading... They're all they're [sic] own stories and they all have their own drive, but it's sort of building toward a big thing at the end of the eight episodes."[51] Elaborating on this, Atwell said, "it’s incredibly tight, the script, which is great. It’s fast moving and fast paced but luckily because it’s not stretched out of 22 episodes, nothing is diluted. Every line is vital to not only moving the story and the action [along] but also developing the characters. So you get to know these characters incredibly quickly. You get to know who you should be trusting, who you shouldn’t be, and then it takes you on this adventure with a lot of surprises and twists and turns which are a surprise to Peggy and they’ll also be a surprise to the audience."[6]

On the future of the series and leading to the character seen in The Winter Soldier, Atwell said, "I think the great thing about the fact that I’ve already played her at the end of her life means that we know… That’s what’s great about the situation we have now, is that we have an opportunity, if the show does go into second and third and fourth and fifth [seasons], we know that we can explore all of these aspects of her character because we know she lives such a long life and she’s had a fulfilled life. I think what’s going to start happening in Season 1 is seeds are going to be planted as to what happens in her personal life – and yet it’s still open to the possibility of new men coming into her life, deepening relationships with the men that we discover in Season 1. Obviously, the era is 1946 but in the second, third, fourth, fifth season – if it goes onto that – we can explore different time periods. We can explore the late forties, the early fifties, the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, up until present day, so it’s very exciting because of that."[6]

Speaking about the series use of 1940s slang, Fazekas stated that terms like "broad" and "dame" were preferably avoided, while research was done to ensure terms that were used in the series were actually in use during that time, with Fazekas giving the example, "you know what didn't exist in 1946? Smart ass. I looked up the etymology on that, didn't exist in 1946. Turns out it was a term that came around in the 60s. But for instance, I wrote a line that said, "Oh I think someone's yanking your chain." And I had to look it up, did that exist in 1946? And actually it did; it's a mining term that exists from a long time ago. That's our research that we do." Research was also done on radio shows of the time to ensure realism when creating the fictional Captain America Adventure Program, with details discovered and replicated on the series including the use of lobsters and ham to create sound effects for the radio show.[52] The Griffith Hotel, the all-women boarding house where Carter lives, is based on the real-life Barbizon Hotel for Women.[9][52]

Fazekas has said that the series is free to deviate from its comic origins, for example "if we're using a minor character or a bad guy from an old comic book, we don't have to adhere to what that character was in that comic book from 1945. Because there are so many different iterations of a specific character, you can't be true to every single one."[50]

Casting

Actress Hayley Atwell, who portrayed Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the Agent Carter short film, expressed interest in returning as the character,[53] before Lee confirmed her involvement in January 2014.[42] In August 2014, Chad Michael Murray and Enver Gjokaj were cast as S.S.R. agents Jack Thompson and Daniel Sousa, respectively.[12] In September 2014, James D'Arcy was cast as Edwin Jarvis,[7] while Shea Whigham was cast as S.S.R. chief Roger Dooley.[15]

In March 2014, Markus and McFeely stated that Howard Stark would be a recurring character, contingent on Dominic Cooper's involvement.[43] In June 2014, Atwell confirmed that Cooper would be involved with the series.[18] Kyle Bornheimer, Meagen Fay, Lyndsy Fonseca, and Bridget Regan also recur as Ray Krzeminski,[17] Miriam Fry,[21][22] Angie Martinelli,[23][11] and Dottie Underwood,[24][25] respectively, throughout the series. In November 2014, it was announced that Costa Ronin would portray a younger version of Anton Vanko,[31] who was portrayed in Iron Man 2 by Yevgeni Lazarev.[54] Chris Evans appears as Steve Rogers / Captain America via archive footage from The First Avenger.[34] Neal McDonough reprises his role of Timothy "Dum Dum" Dugan from previous MCU films, One-Shots, and television series.[30][55][56]

Design

The costume designer for the series is Giovanna Ottobre-Melton, who felt comfortable with the series' period setting after working on Mob City, for which she had spent months researching American styles in the 1940s.[57] She noted that "many comic books were all blended by the color, style, and fabrics" from 1940s New York.[58] Due to the large amount of action in the series, fabrics "with the feel and texture of the 1940s" had to be sourced in large quantities, to allow for the creation of four, five, or more of each costume.[57] Ottobre-Melton's process "for each episode, [is to] read the script first, and then search for historic photos that relate to what the episode is about. Afterwards I chose the fabrics, and then begin to design the outfits."[58]

For Carter, though some vintage pieces were used, most of her outfits were custom made to accommodate the scripted action scenes.[59] Ottobre-Melton explained that "For the overall design silhouette, there is an hourglass style with strength in the tailoring and defined shoulders, but not overly exaggerated." For the character's "tactical gear", World War II underground military looks were referenced.[58] "Jarvis is a tweed suit man. He has a large responsibility handling Howard Stark's affairs, and needs to look polished at all times. He's a well-paid employee who can afford custom-made 3-piece suits, and has a British sensibility, so we put him in a finely tailored bold black and grey Herringbone suit."[59] The S.S.R. agents Thompson, Sousa, and Dooley each have a distinctive look that helps explain their characters:[59] Thompson wears single breasted suits with suspenders; Sousa wears "sweater vests under his sport coats and pleated pants";[58] and Dooley wears "the classic 1940s double-breasted looks. Many of his closet pieces are sourced 1940s vintage suits."[59]

Filming

Filming took place in Los Angeles in late September[51][14] and early October 2014,[60] and was completed on January 20, 2015.[61][62] Cinematographer Gabriel Beristain used a combination of modern digital technology and traditional analog techniques to replicate the feel of classic films that are set in the 1940s, but to also have the convenience and consistency of modern technology. Beristain uses the Arri Alexa digital camera, along with Leica Lenses and silk-stocking diffusion nets, the latter on which he recalled "I had last used in the 1980s in England on videos and commercials. I remembered that they were fantastic. In combination with the Leica lenses, the look is very classic, very much like a 1940s film. When I saw it, I said, ‘This is absolutely Marvel,’ and [D’Esposito] agreed." For the series' lighting, Berisatin again mixed modern and traditional, using LED fixtures to recreate classic Hollywood lighting. He called his lighting of Atwell "an homage to the great cinematographers who lit Lauren Bacall and Grace Kelly."[63]

Visual effects

Sheena Duggal, who served as visual effects supervisor on the Agent Carter One-Shot,[64] returned to the position for the series, while the companies Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Base FX created the visual effects.[65] Work by ILM includes the creation of backdrops for the series, including matte paintings, depicting 1940s New York.[66][52]

Music

In June 2014, Christopher Lennertz, who composed the music for the Agent Carter One-Shot, talked about potentially working on the series, saying, D'Esposito "told me last summer at Comic-Con that there was a possibility this was going to become a series. And he said that if he was going to be involved, he wanted me to be involved, too. So ... I can’t say anything more than that. But, there is a series, and Lou is the producer, and he may be directing some of the shows. I hope to be doing it".[67] In September 2014, Lennertz officially signed on to compose for the series.[68]

Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-ins

We work really closely with Eric Carroll in Marvel Studios. He's sort of the guy who tells us, "Well, you can't really do this to that thing, because that's going to step on this project. But what if you do this?" They're really generous with that world. And they also, because there are so many different versions of these character in the comic book world, they let us create a character and it doesn't have to be exactly what was in the comic book. They let it be inspired by the character, but we have a lot of freedom to put them into the story that we want to tell.

–Fazekas on working in with Marvel Cinematic Universe canon.[52]

In July 2014, Fazekas talked about how the series would relate to the One-Shot, saying, "The short really is the basis for the series. [Carter]'s working at S.S.R., post-war... If you think of the short as sort of the end of the series, the series would be leading up to that moment where she gets assigned to S.H.I.E.L.D." On the characters appearing in the series, Fazekas stated that she did not "know how much of the short will live in this series", with Butters adding, "I think obviously there'll be some exciting people that you've seen before and new characters that populate her world. But what I like about [Carter] so much is it's very much a Marvel property. It will have all those things you saw in the short, but we will really get to explore the emotional character".[51] On the series relationship with the films, Fazekas said "Because Peggy comes from their movies, Louis D'Esposito and Kevin Feige are very invested in this and they've been really collaborative and very generous with their world."[50]

Release

Broadcast

Agent Carter airs on ABC in the United States,[45] and on CTV in Canada.[69] Channel 4, the station that airs Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the United Kingdom, has stated that they do not "have any current plans for Agent Carter."[70]

Marketing

Footage from the first episode was shown at New York Comic Con on October 10, 2014,[60] and again in ABC's one-hour television special, Marvel 75 Years: From Pulp to Pop!, which aired in November 2014.[71] The first teaser for the series debuted during Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on October 28, 2014, with the tagline "Sometimes the best man for the job ... is a woman." Though the trailer itself was received positively, the tagline was criticized as "awful" and "ridiculous",[72] and Alan Sepinwall of HitFix said "I get that one of the themes of the show will be Peggy dealing with the sexism of the time, but these ads exist in 2014, not 1945. Please find a new tagline."[73]

Reception

Ratings

No. Title Air date Rating/share
(18–49)
Viewers
(millions)
DVR
(18–49)
DVR viewers
(millions)
Total
(18–49)
Total viewers
(millions)
1 "Now is Not the End" January 6, 2015 1.9/6 6.91[35] 1.1 3.25 3.0 10.16[74]
2 "Bridge and Tunnel" January 6, 2015 1.9/6 6.91[35] 1.1 3.25 3.0 10.16[74]
3 "Time and Tide" January 13, 2015 1.5/4 5.10[36] TBD TBD TBD TBD
4 "The Blitzkrieg Button" January 27, 2015 1.3/4 4.63[37] TBD TBD TBD TBD
5 "The Iron Ceiling" February 3, 2015 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD
6 "A Sin to Err" February 10, 2015 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD
7 "SNAFU" February 17, 2015 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD
8 "Valediction" February 24, 2015 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD

Critical response

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 97% approval rating with an average rating of 7.9/10 based on 33 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Focusing on Peggy Carter as a person first and an action hero second makes Marvel's Agent Carter a winning, stylish drama with bursts of excitement and an undercurrent of cheeky fun".[75] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 74 out of 100 based on 25 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[76]

References

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  3. ^ a b Cavanaugh, Patrick (October 27, 2014). "See What's in Store for Marvel's Agent Carter in the Official Series Synopsis". Marvel.com. Archived from the original on October 27, 2014. Retrieved October 27, 2014. ((cite web)): Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
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  9. ^ a b "AGENT CARTER TCA Panel Recap: Cast and Producers Talk How Jarvis Became a Part of the Story, the Show's Feminism, Easter Eggs, and More". Collider. January 16, 2015. Archived from the original on January 17, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2015. ((cite web)): Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
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