When fans talk about Marvel Television shows that were terminated too early, the first ones mentioned are usually the Netflix shows. Whether it was Daredevil, Punisher, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage or Iron Fist, they all met with the executioner’s axe. For Daredevil and Punisher, it was not without a push back from fans. Those shows were running strong and had a loyal following. And while the pulling of their respective plugs was not without warning, it still proved to be disappointing.
Marvel’s Agent Carter
However, the first Marvel Television show that met this fate was not on Netflix. It was in fact, a follow up to ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Marvel’s Agent Carter followed the exploits of S.H.I.E.L.D. Founder Peggy Carter. Of course, at that time it was the Strategic Reserve. On screen, Agent Carter had made a splash in her a cinematic debut in Captain America: The First Avenger. Hayley Atwell filled the role as the strong willed and highly combative Peggy Carter. It was under her auspice that a young Steve Rogers was selected to become America’s first (and only) Super-Soldier. But the character of Margaret “Peggy” Carter has been around awhile.
She was first introduced in May 1966’s Tales to Astonish #77. This was a anthology book that starred both Iron Man and Captain America in separate stories. In the Captain America story entitled “If a Hostage Should Die,” creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced the as of yet unnamed character in a flashback. In the story, Steve is watching a documentary of his aid in liberating Nazi occupied France in World War 2. As he watches some of the footage, it causes Cap to think about the mysterious woman whom he had loved back then. As he recalled, Cap was battling Nazis when he met the girl. She was leading a band of French resistance fighters.
While having to part ways on separate missions, the girl and her resistance fighters get captured by the Nazis. Once Cap finds out, he rushes to her aid. Upon his arrival, he is told he was too late to save her. In his anger and disappointment, he single handedly defeats the Nazis in the camp.
Once victorious, it becomes apparent that Captain America had helped free France from Nazi control. He is carried off by the victors as a hero, even though all he wants to do is to try to break away to search for the girl. What he doesn’t realize is that she is watching the whole spectacle. Unfortunately, during the attack on her and her resistance fighters, a shell blast made her lose her memory. So not recognizing him, she walks off into the shadows. As he finishes his recollection, Cap laments over the fact that he never learned the true fate of his mysterious blond romance.
Peggy Carter, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The identity of the character is not revealed to be Peggy Carter until Captain America #161 and Captain America #162. At that time, she is revealed to be Sharon Carter’s sister. This is later retconned so that Peggy is in fact, Sharon Carter’s Aunt. Which makes more sense. In the 1960’s Peggy Carter joins up with S.H.I.E.L.D. She is a skilled fighter and weapons expert as well as an experienced tactician and commander. It is this Peggy Carter that Marvel channeled in the MCU.
Atwell’s portrayal of Carter was well received. Because of this and her popularity with fans, the Marvel Creative team included Carter in flashback scenes in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. More than a few times did Phil Coulson, Jemma Simmons and Leopold Fitz extol the virtues of Margaret “Peggy“ Carter. Coulson, because he was a S.H.I.E.L.D. historian and knew the importance of Peggy’s role in the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. Jemma admired her for that and because she was British. Fitz admired her strength and probably the fact that Jemma admired her. Fitz is no dummy.
Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter
The real impetus for the Television series was the Marvel One Shot film that was released called Agent Carter. For those of you who wish to see it and have the Iron Man 3 Blu-Ray, it is one of the special features on the disc.
It takes place one year after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger. Agent Peggy Carter is now a member of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR). As was common during that time, she faces sexism from her boss, Agent John Flynn, who treats her condescendingly. He keeps her “busy” compiling data and code breaking while assigning field cases to the “real” male agents. The SSR’s main concern at this time is the mysterious Zodiac, which they have been unable to recover for some time.
One night, she is alone in the office while the men are out together. The phone rings and Carter answers the case line to hear of the location of the Zodiac. Although three to five agents are recommended, Carter decides to go to the location herself. After skillfully fighting off multiple guards, she is able to retrieve the Zodiac, which is revealed to be a mysterious serum, by herself.
The next day, an obviously embarrassed Flynn reprimands her for not going through the proper channels to complete the mission. He then dismisses the indignant Carter as just an “old flame” of Captain America. She was apparently was just given her current job out of pity for her bereavement. However, before he can officially punish her, the case line rings again. This time it is Howard Stark on the other end. Stark informs Flynn that Agent Carter will co-head the newly created S.H.I.E.L.D. Take THAT dumbass.
ABC’s Marvel’s Agent Carter
The popularity of the One-Shot made ABC order a straight to series for Agent Carter. The first season, consisted of eight episodes, and aired from January 6 to February 24, 2015. It was renewed for a 2nd Season which consisted of 10 episodes. These episodes aired from January 19 to March 1, 2016. In both cases, the seasons aired during mid-season breaks of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Unfortunately, while the series received a positive critical response, viewership didn’t match that level. So on May 12, 2016, ABC canceled Agent Carter.
First off, I am glad that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t dismissed so readily. That series never had a great viewer count either. What it did have, as Agent May says, “was a small but active fan base.“ It’s a shame that Agent Carter apparently didn’t have the same. At least not where ABC noticed. This was a great show with a strong female lead. Atwell shines as Carter and is supported by James D’Arcy as Edwin Jarvis, right hand man of Howard Stark, and Enver Gjokaj as Daniel Sousa (who makes an appearance in Season 7’s Episode 3 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) Chad Michael Murray also appears as Jack Thompson and Shea Whigham as Roger Dooley the head of the SSR. Performances were not the problem.
Why did this happen? Maureen Ryan of Variety had a take that I tend to believe. She blamed both seasons’ low viewership on “questionable scheduling decisions” made by then ABC president Paul Lee. She also referred to the series “lackluster promotion, especially [for its second season].” This included a botched rollout of Season Two that included a changed premiere date. Hard to watch a show when you’re not sure when it will be on.
In addition, episodes were difficult to access in advance. This was blamed on what was referred to as “Marvel’s dreadful media site.” Perhaps the worst thing was the fact that the full first season was only made available on ABC.com days before season two began. Pretty much eliminating the opportunity for viewers who might have wanted to jump on board in advance of Season 2. I’m quite surprised that Marvel was not more upset about how poorly their product was treated. I know I was. It deserved so much more than it received.
What Do You Think
Regardless of the reasons, ABC decided to cancel Agent Carter. Bad ABC! It’s not like it was the Inhumans. It was a much better show. However, if you haven’t checked it out, it is available on Disney+. I recommend it. It’s only two seasons (unfortunately) but it was a quality show that wasn’t given a fair shake in my humble opinion. If you have watched Agent Carter, what did you think of it? If not, check it out and give us your opinion. We always value your opinion here at Geek Vibes Nation.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 17 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.