Agent Carter (TV series)

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Marvel's Agent Carter
AgentCARTER.png
Genre
Created by
Based on
Starring
Composer(s) Christopher Lennertz
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 8 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) Sara E. White
Location(s) Los Angeles, California
Cinematography Gabriel Beristain
Running time 40 – 42 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor Disney–ABC Domestic Television
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format 720p (HDTV)[1]
Audio format 5.1 surround sound[1]
Original run January 6, 2015 (2015-01-06) – present (present)
Chronology
Preceded by Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter
Related shows
External links
Official website

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 the first season aired from January 6 to February 24, 2015, during the season two mid-season break of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Premise[edit]

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[edit]

Main[edit]

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 "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] Fazekas, explaining the introduction and development of Jarvis in the series, stated that "Some of it has come from the comics and some of it we've developed ourselves. Some of it is influenced by James D'Arcy himself and his strengths."[9] D'Arcy was initially nervous about portraying Jarvis's comedic side, given his history of "predominantly play[ing] psychopaths".[10] He did not study Paul Bettany's performance as J.A.R.V.I.S. when approaching the character.[11]
A war veteran and agent with the S.S.R.[12] described as chauvinistic and "chest-puffing".[5][13] 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."[12] Murray also noted that, unlike his character on One Tree Hill, Thompson does not serve as the "moral compass", which meant that he wouldn't be "confined to a box" and would instead be allowed to "really play things up and do what's unexpected."[14]
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.[13][15] "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."[16] 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."[17]
The S.S.R. chief who oversees agents Carter, Thompson, and Sousa.[18] Dooley dies in "Snafu" when he jumps out a window to save his fellow S.S.R. agents from the explosive vest he is wearing. 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."[19] 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."[19]

Recurring[edit]

The father of Tony Stark, and a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D.[24][25] 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."[26]
A waitress and aspiring actress who befriends Carter.[13][29] Fonseca was drawn to Martinelli's "funky personality", which differed from her much more serious previous role of Alexandra Udinov on Nikita. Fonseca and Atwell discussed keeping their characters as friends, rather than falling to "jealousy or cattiness. There's nothing but just support and interest and friendship, because a lot of times it's more complicated than that on shows."[30]
A small-town girl from Iowa who moves next door to Carter.[31][32] In late January 2015, Butters and Fazekas revealed that Underwood is actually a product of the precursor to the Black Widow program.[33] The next month, they stated that Underwood "doesn’t quite understand what it’s like to be a normal woman" after her upbringing in the program, and they compared her to Carter in the fact that she intrigues Underwood, while Carter herself "is intrigued by the “normal” lives of Angie and Jarvis, people who have relationships and interests outside of the job."[34] Underwood was created to give Carter a "strong female antagonist", and Butters noted that "we said, wouldn’t it be great to have one of those people who is living right there with her be actually a bad guy?"[35] Regan trained with a Tae Kwan Do expert and studied Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow choreography from the films in preparation for the character's fight scenes. Underwood's initial "small-town girl from Iowa" persona was based on Judy Garland's Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz.[36]

Guest[edit]

Stan Lee cameos in "The Blitzkrieg Button" as a shoeshiner patron,[37][44][45] while John Glover cameos in "The Iron Ceiling" as a journalist and friend of Dooley.[46] Chris Evans appears in "Now is Not the End" as Steve Rogers / Captain America via archive footage from Captain America: The First Avenger.[47]

Episodes[edit]

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.S. viewers
(millions)
1 "Now is Not the End" Louis D'Esposito Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely January 6, 2015 (2015-01-06) 6.91[48]
In 1946, Peggy Carter, mourning the apparent death of Steve Rogers, returns to work for the Strategic Scientific Reserve in New York City following the end of World War II. The S.S.R. investigates industrialist Howard Stark for apparently selling weapons to enemies of the United States. Stark secretly reaches out to Carter, and asks her to help him clear his name. Before he leaves the country, 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. She shows one such nitramene bomb to Stark Industries scientist Anton Vanko, who deduces that it came from a Roxxon Oil refinery. Carter, along with Stark's butler Edwin Jarvis, investigates the refinery, and encounters Leet Brannis, who apparently works for an organization called Leviathan, and escapes with a truck full of the nitramene weapons. Before leaving, Brannis drops a nitramine bomb, and as Carter and Jarvis escape, it destroys the entire building.
2 "Bridge and Tunnel" Joseph V. Russo Eric Pearson January 6, 2015 (2015-01-06) 6.91[48]
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 Sasha Demidov, who works for Leviathan, an organization that it now seems Brannis has betrayed. Carter fights Demidov, 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 Demidov, 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 Demidov). 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 Winant Andi Bushell January 13, 2015 (2015-01-13) 5.10[49]
Dooley and Agent Krzeminski investigate Demidov's hotel room, and discover a typewriter. Thompson and Sousa take Jarvis in for interrogation, and the former threatens him with revealing an old treason charge to the immigration office. Carter, feigning ignorance, botches the interrogation to get Jarvis out, and receives a stern reprimand from Dooley. Carter and Jarvis then 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 bearing Brannis' symbol). Jarvis anonymously gives the S.S.R. their location, 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 Krzeminski, 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 Cragg Brant Englestein January 27, 2015 (2015-01-27) 4.63[50]
After learning that Brannis and 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 Soviet 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 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" Peter Leto Jose Molina February 3, 2015 (2015-02-03) 4.20[51]
Carter decrypts an encoded message, received from Leviathan through Demidov's typewriter, for the S.S.R., learning that Stark will be selling weapons to Leviathan at a Soviet military complex. Thompson is sent to stop the sale and apprehend Stark, and is forced to take Carter when she enlists the help of her war comrades, the Howling Commandos. They discover that young girls are trained at the complex to infiltrate the US as sleeper agents, and realize that they have walked into a trap when one girl kills the Commando Junior Juniper. Soviet soldiers attack the team and Thompson freezes under fire, but Carter ensures that they escape, along with imprisoned psychiatrist Dr. Ivchenko. Meanwhile, Underwood, who is actually a sleeper agent trained at that complex, discovers the photos of Stark’s weapons in S.S.R. custody when searching Carter’s apartment, while Sousa realizes that Carter is the woman who has been interfering with the S.S.R.’s investigation.
6 "A Sin to Err" Stephen Williams Lindsey Allen February 10, 2015 (2015-02-10) 4.25[52]
Carter and Jarvis investigate the women that Stark has been involved with over the last six months, believing that a female Leviathan operative may have been used against Stark and to kill Krzeminski, but their search is unsuccessful. Sousa reveals to Dooley that Carter is an apparent traitor, and all agents are tasked with tracking her down. They eventually corner her and Jarvis, but Carter fights them off. During the commotion, Dr. Ivchenko, who is actually working for Leviathan, hypnotizes Agent Yauch, who reveals that only Dooley can access Stark's weapons. Yauch shows Ivchenko how to get out of the S.S.R., before Ivchenko forces him to commit suicide. Carter retrieves Rogers' blood from her apartment. As she tries to escape the building, she is knocked out by Dottie Underwood, but not before realizing that Underwood is the Leviathan operative. Underwood is about to kill Carter when Thompson and Sousa arrive. She feigns ignorance, and the agents arrest Carter.
7 "Snafu"[38][53] Vincent Misiano Chris Dingess February 17, 2015 (2015-02-17) 4.15[54]
As Carter is resisting interrogation at the S.S.R., Jarvis appears with a fake signed confession from Stark, promising surrender if Carter is released. Carter sees Ivchenko communicating in Morse code with Underwood, and reveals the truth about her own investigation to her colleagues to gain their trust. Ivchenko hypnotizes Dooley and has him steal one of Stark's weapons from the S.S.R.'s labs: a gas cylinder that Underwood and Ivchenko activate in a crowded cinema before leaving and locking the door behind them. The agents find Dooley wearing a Stark experimental vest given to him by Ivchenko, which Jarvis explains will explode with no way to deactivate it. Dooley jumps out a window moments before the device detonates, killing him but saving the others. The gas in the cinema makes many in the audience become maniacal and attack each other violently, and when an usher arrives soon after, the entire audience is dead.
8 "Valediction" Christopher Misiano Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters February 24, 2015 (2015-02-24) 4.02[55]
The S.S.R. discovers the gas cylinder in the cinema and realize that Ivchenko possibly plans to turn all of New York on itself. Stark returns and explains that he had developed the gas, named Midnight Oil, to give American soldiers extra stamina during war, but it caused psychosis and lead to them killing each other. During World War II, the American military stole Midnight Oil and used it on the Soviets at Finow. Stark believes that Ivchenko – real name Johann Fennhoff – blames Stark for the ensuing massacre, and allows the S.S.R. to use him as bait to draw Leviathan out. This plan goes awry when Underwood distracts the agents while Fennhoff kidnaps Stark, and uses hypnosis to convince him to drop the gas on Times Square. At Stark’s secret plane hangar, Sousa apprehends Fennhoff while Carter defeats Underwood (who escapes) and convinces Stark not to drop the gas on the city. Carter later discards Rogers' blood in the East River, finally moving on with her life, while Fennhoff is imprisoned with the scheming Arnim Zola.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

A potential Agent Carter series was initially brought up 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.[56] 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.[57] Chris Dingess also serves as a showrunner.[17] In March 2014, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, writers of the Captain America films, stated that they envisioned the series, which had not yet been greenlit, as a limited series of approximately 13 episodes[58] 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.[59]

On May 8, 2014, ABC officially ordered the series,[60] 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.[61][62] Later in May, star Hayley Atwell stated that the series would consist of eight episodes.[63] 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] 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.[64]

Writing[edit]

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 first episode was written by Markus and McFeely, writers on the Captain America films.[57] 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.[58] In July, Butters and Fazekas revealed that writing for the rest of the series would begin in August 2014.[65] Despite working on Captain America: Civil War at the same time, Markus and McFeely remained involved with the series after writing the first script.[66] 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.[17]

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 their 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."[65] 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] Also in July, it was revealed that Carter's husband would be explored in the series.[4] However, it was not explored much in the first season, with McFeely saying, "This was the season where she says goodbye to Steve [Rogers]... But we knew by the end [of season one] that she should say goodbye to him. In a second season, she could be freer to have those conversations about a life after him."[67]

Speaking about the series use of 1940s terminology, 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.[68] The Griffith Hotel, the all-women boarding house where Carter lives, is based on the real-life Barbizon Hotel for Women.[10][68] Butters felt that while working in the time period, it became an issue to not sound "too period". Additionally, it was difficult to write British people from the time in order to avoid stereotypes such as the "typical British butler". However, D'Arcy, who is British, felt the writing staff wrote the British characters better than anyone else he had worked with, despite there not being any British writers on the staff.[69]

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."[64]

After the first season concluded, Markus and McFeely revealed they "had a really nice story about who Peggy is and where she came from" that did not make it into the first season, but would hope to explore in a potential second season with the idea of "What makes Peggy, Peggy?"[67] Fazekas and Butters also revealed there had been a story about Peggy having "a night out with the girls" (Angie and Dottie) to explore Peggy's personal life and more material for Angie, having her act as Peggy's window to a normal life for the first season; though they noted both potential plot lines "would be easier in a second season" to tell.[70]

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] On a second season, Fazekas said, "We’ve certainly been talking about what a second season would look like, and there’s a lot of different ideas... what’s great about the structure of this show is, you can tell so many different stories and go so many different directions."[71] Butters later expanded by saying that any future seasons would likely stay in the same time period, possibly changing location to a place like Hollywood or Europe, in order to stick to a pre-S.H.I.E.L.D. time period and avoid competing with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.[69]

Casting[edit]

Hayley Atwell reprises her film role as Peggy Carter, the titular character of the television series.

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,[72] before Lee confirmed her involvement in January 2014.[57] In July 2014, it was revealed that Edwin Jarvis, the character who would eventually inspire the artificial intelligence J.A.R.V.I.S. from the MCU films, would appear in the series.[8] In August 2014, Chad Michael Murray and Enver Gjokaj were cast as S.S.R. agents Jack Thompson and Daniel Sousa, respectively.[15] In September 2014, James D'Arcy was cast as Jarvis,[7] while Shea Whigham was cast as S.S.R. chief Roger Dooley.[18]

In March 2014, Markus and McFeely stated that Howard Stark would be a recurring character, contingent on Dominic Cooper's involvement.[58] In June 2014, Atwell confirmed that Cooper would be involved with the series.[24] Kyle Bornheimer, Ralph Brown, Alexander Carroll, Meagen Fay, Lyndsy Fonseca, and Bridget Regan also recur as Ray Krzeminski,[20] Johann Fennhoff,[22] Yauch,[31] Miriam Fry,[27][28] Angie Martinelli,[13][29] and Dottie Underwood,[31][32] respectively, throughout the series. In November 2014, it was announced that Costa Ronin would portray a younger version of Anton Vanko,[43] who was portrayed in Iron Man 2 by Yevgeni Lazarev.[73] Chris Evans appears as Steve Rogers / Captain America via archive footage from The First Avenger.[47] Neal McDonough and Toby Jones reprise their roles of Timothy "Dum Dum" Dugan and Arnim Zola from previous MCU films, One-Shots, and/or television series during the season.[42][74][75][41]

Design[edit]

When creating the gadgets for the series, the writers worked closely with the props department to develop technology that appears "both retro and futuristic at the same time", given the combination of the period setting and Howard Stark (who opens the door to "things that are fantastic for the time period"). Fazekas explained that the goal was to avoid a science fiction look, so the "fantastic and futuristic" aspects were reserved solely for function, while the aesthetic was kept within the realms of that time period.[76]

Costumes[edit]

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.[77] She noted that "many comic books were all blended by the color, style, and fabrics" from 1940s New York.[78] 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.[77] 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."[78]

For Carter, though some vintage pieces were used, most of her outfits were custom made to accommodate the scripted action scenes.[79] 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.[78] "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."[79] The S.S.R. agents Thompson, Sousa, and Dooley each have a distinctive look that helps explain their characters:[79] Thompson wears single breasted suits with suspenders; Sousa wears "sweater vests under his sport coats and pleated pants";[78] and Dooley wears "the classic 1940s double-breasted looks. Many of his closet pieces are sourced 1940s vintage suits."[79]

Ottobre-Melton designed Stark's outfits with his fugitive-status in mind, aiming to have him look "rich, comfortable, and sexy all rolled up into one." Stark doesn't wear a tie while on the run, unlike many men during the time, and tends to wear casual shirts with custom made jackets and vintage pants. Explaining the differences between Carter and Underwood, Ottobre-Melton explained that "Peggy’s wardrobe is sophisticated, tailored and I use saturated colors on her. Dottie, on the other hand, has an unstructured softness to her look with bits of lace and floral embroidery. A good example is the vintage burgundy hand-knit sweater seen in ["Time and Tide"].[80]

Filming[edit]

Filming began in Los Angeles around late September / early October 2014[17][65][81] and was completed on January 20, 2015.[82][83] 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."[84]

Visual effects[edit]

Sheena Duggal, who served as visual effects supervisor on the Agent Carter One-Shot,[85] returned to the position for the series, while the companies Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Base FX created the visual effects.[86] Work by ILM includes the creation of backdrops for the series, including matte paintings, depicting 1940s New York.[68][87] Butters revealed that the series averaged 200 visual effects per episode.[69]

Music[edit]

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".[88] In September 2014, Lennertz officially signed on to compose for the series.[89]

Lennertz said he enjoyed combining all the different style elements of the show in the music, such as mixing jazz and period elements, with orchestra and electronic elements. Lennertz additionally wanted to carry over from the One-Shot the highlighting of Peggy's strength and cleverness, while also giving her a sense of bravado, saying, the music is "always done from a sense of being sort of in control and savvy and clever, rather than just being strong or just having a superpower or sort of being so much further along than anybody else physically. Part of it was just trying to make it that she’s just smarter than everybody else. She’s got such command over so many of these situations, and that was the most important thing was to give her that personality." In his research of the music of the time period, Lennertz learned that jazz was shifting from big band to smaller ensembles, and bebop was being introduced. This allowed him to incorporate trumpets in his scores, to harken to the time period and because they are "also very sneaky, and it lends itself to espionage and that kind of thing." Additionally, Lennertz was able to reorchestrate "Star-Spangled Man", originally by Alan Menken from Captain America: The First Avenger for the series.[90]

Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-ins[edit]

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.[68]

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."[64] Markus, talking about the series place in the greater architecture of the MCU, later said "you really only need to drop the tiniest bit of hint and its connected. You don’t have to go, "Howard Stark's wearing the same pants that Tony wears!” ... Everything is enhanced just by the knowledge that its all connected."[66]

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."[65] Markus reiterated this in January 2015, but added that "we all agree and understand that [keeping continuity with the short is] going to get tougher if we continue" making the series.[66]

The series introduces the Red Room and the origins of the Black Widow program,[35] which will eventually produce Natasha Romanoff,[33] who appears in multiple MCU films portrayed by Scarlett Johansson.[91] Although the origins of the program are explored, the term "Black Widow" is never used in the series.[35] Agent Carter also explores the origins of the Hydra-led Winter Soldier program, as seen by the end tag in "Valediction" when Zola approaches Faustus about mind control.[67][70]

Release[edit]

Broadcast[edit]

Agent Carter debuted in the United States and Canada as a two-hour series premiere on January 6, 2015, on ABC and CTV, respectively.[27][92] It began airing in New Zealand on TV2 on February 11, 2015.[93] 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."[94]

Marketing[edit]

Footage from the first episode was shown at New York Comic Con on October 10, 2014,[81] and again in ABC's one-hour television special, Marvel 75 Years: From Pulp to Pop!, which aired in November 2014.[95] 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",[96] 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."[97]

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

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[48] 1.1 3.25 3.0 10.16[98]
2 "Bridge and Tunnel" January 6, 2015 1.9/6 6.91[48] 1.1 3.25 3.0 10.16[98]
3 "Time and Tide" January 13, 2015 1.5/4 5.10[49] 0.8 2.56 2.3 7.66[99]
4 "The Blitzkrieg Button" January 27, 2015 1.3/4 4.63[50] 1.0 2.54 2.3 7.16[100]
5 "The Iron Ceiling" February 3, 2015 1.3/4 4.20[51] N/A N/A N/A N/A
6 "A Sin to Err" February 10, 2015 1.4/4 4.25[52] 0.9 N/A 2.3[101] N/A
7 "Snafu" February 17, 2015 1.4/4 4.15[54] 0.8 2.09 2.2 6.24[102]
8 "Valediction" February 24, 2015 1.3/4 4.02[55] 0.9 N/A 2.2[103] N/A

Critical response[edit]

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".[104] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 74 out of 100 based on 25 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[105]

Brian Lowry, reviewing the two-part premiere for Variety, felt that giving Atwell her own television series was "a pretty smart bet" by Marvel, and he called the episodes "considerable fun". He noted the period setting as contributing to this, and positively mentioned the score by composer Christopher Lennertz.[106] Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly felt that "the show isn’t as retro-stylish as it thinks it is ... the first hour of Agent Carter feels like an above-average episode of Young Indiana Jones Chronicles", noting that it tonally aims for His Girl Friday, Dick Tracy, and Alias ("A tough tonal mixture on a weekly broadcast budget, but also an ambition worth pursuing"), but praised Atwell's performance, calling her "a delight" and "firing on all cylinders". Franich was negative about what he saw to be common MCU tropes, notably "Somebody named Stark invented something dangerous; everyone wants an All-Important Glowing Thing; there’s an implicit promise that nothing will be solved for weeks/years to come." Though he was wary about the series being forced to contribute to the rest of the MCU, he did note that "Agent Carter feels pleasantly segmented off from the greater Marvel Machinery".[107]

Eric Goldman of IGN gave the first season an 8.8 out of 10, saying, "Agent Carter didn’t need to succeed by setting up something to pay off in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – it just needed to be an entertaining, involving show. And boy, was it." He also praised the Peggy/Jarvis dynamic, the MCU tie-ins and connections the series included, such as the Black Widow program, and the strong portrayals of the season's supporting characters.[21]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2015 Saturn Award Best Superhero Adaptation Television Series Agent Carter Pending [108]
Best Actress in a Television Series Hayley Atwell Pending
Best Guest Performance in a Television Series Dominic Cooper Pending

Potential spin-off podcast[edit]

In March 2015, Butters revealed that there had been discussions about creating a podcast centered around the fictional Captain America Adventure Program radio show, with Thrilling Adventure Hour co-creator and writer Ben Blacker. Butters said that the episodes would be "little fifteen-minute storylines", spinning out of the well received segments on the series, which was not part of the original show pitch to Marvel. Additionally, she said receiving "a second season [of Agent Carter] would help" with the possibility for the podcast.[69]

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