Q: So what’s the premise of this new “Agent Carter” show?
A: Post-WWII, Agent Peggy Carter fights a secret war against the forces of evil, assisted by millionaire industrialist Howard Stark and two-fisted vet Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan.
Q: Is this gonna be cool?
A: See that picture? That was the least attractive picture I could find. If it were nothing but Halely Atwell saying the word “vibranium” for 45 minutes, it would still be the best thing on television.
Q: Isn’t this a lot like “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”?
A: Yes and no. “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is about the guys who show up when weirdness goes public, in a world where superheroes fighting alien invasions is now a fact of life.
“Agent Carter” can take place in a world where the forces of evil stay more covert and traditional spycraft rules the day. It’s dieselpunk “Alias.”
Q: What forces of evil?
A: Oh, all kinds.
Baron Strucker is helping what’s left of HYDRA make that awkward transition from Nazi super-science division to James Bond super-villains.
Baron Zemo is hunkered down in Brazil, performing weird experiments with . . . artificial life and youth serums and adhesives, I guess. He’s a different kind of crazy than Strucker . . . he wants to conquer the world, yes, but in order to SAVE it.
The Yellow Claw would also be acceptable, provided they borrow the recent bit from the comics establishing that (1) the proper translation is “Golden Claw,” and (2) he intentionally plays up the whole Yellow Menace angle, as it causes fools to fear him and wiser men to underestimate him. Sort of a riff on Iron Man 3’s depiction of the Mandarin, in a way.
This is the Cold War, so we gotta have some Soviets. The Red Guardian is their version of Captain America — WWII hero / living propaganda. Could be an occasional ally, if they’re pursuing a common interest like Nazi-smashin’.
Q: Are there some classic stories from this era they could adapt?
A: No, sir. In the comics, Cap never even knew Peggy’s real name. She went crazy after he disappeared and spent decades institutionalized. Great storytelling, House of Ideas.
In the actual publishing history of Timely / Atlas / Marvel Comics, there was very little happening during that period. Superheroes were out of style, apart from a short-lived surge of female characters like Namora and Sun Girl, and Black Canary over at DC. So there’s an odd bit of precedent for a post-war crimefighting femme fatale.
This era gave us the aforementioned girl heroes, the short-lived All-Winners Squad (the Invaders, plus the Whizzer and Ms. America), the continuing diminishing-returns adventures of Namor and the Human Torch, and a series of replacement Captain Americas.
As we move into the 1950s, you’ve got all the stuff that later went into “Agents of Atlas” — Jimmy Woo vs. the Yellow Claw, Gorilla-Man, Marvel Boy, 3-D Man versus the Skrulls, etc.
This is not the most fertile soil from which to grow a TV series in the year 2014, and it is all terribly obscure stuff. Now some of the more recent comics where we find out that the Order of the Shield goes back to ancient Egyptians defeating the Brood invasion and such . . . that’s all great stuff.
Q: So is Captain America in this?
A: I think Chris Evans eventually drops in. Maybe some flashbacks, maybe some imposter stuff, maybe some dream sequence stuff. I am assuming that he’s a pretty good guy, and is also willing to take a good-sized check to kiss Halely Atwell.
But in the comics, there were three replacement Caps during this period: Willam Nasland, then Jeff Mace, then William Burnside. Obvious story potential here — are they just new guys hired to wear the suit? Super-Soldier experiments gone wrong?
Q: This has lots of Iron Man and Cap stuff. . . where’s Thor?
A: He’s like 1500 years old. He could show up at any time. And you can’t tell me that Tom Hiddleston wouldn’t guest star as Loki. He would be all over that.
In the alternative, I’d like to see Dugan and Volstagg get very drunk and fight, like, a Communist frost giant.
In the further alternative . . . maybe something with Peggy teaming up with Sif? There’s a book out right now where Misty Knight and Valkyrie team up . . . something like that.
Q: Where’s Black Widow?
A: Not born yet, but . . . in the comics, they’ve set up that (1) the Communists have been running a “Black Widow” program of scientifically enhanced secret agents for decades, and (2) Natasha is much, much older than she looks, because Science.
While I think the Infinity Formula has its place in this series, I don’t think they’d go the route of mentioning that Scarlet Johannsen has been 70-some all this time. For Agent Carter purposes, just give her as a recurring nemesis / frenemy a redheaded Russian superspy, the first graduate of the Soviet’s Black Widow program, aiming to put some red in her ledger.
Q: Where’s Hawkeye?
A: Also not born yet, but if you wanted to have your era-appropriate Hawkeye tie-in . . . Jacques Duquesne, master sword-fighter and knife-thrower, guerilla fighter in Indochina, occasional circus performer. He could be a regular or recurring character with shifting loyalties. He ends up working for the good guys, and 50 years later, S.H.I.E.L.D. still sends youngsters like Agent Clint Barton to train with the boozy old French guy they call the Swordsman.
Q: Where’s Nick Fury?
A: I am all for including Agent Fury. Four options:
1. Jake Fury is a decorated African-American combat vet moving into intelligence work, recruited by proto-S.H.I.E.L.D because they see ability, not color. His baby boy wears black diapers and an eyepatch.
2. Nick Fury is a decorated African-American combat vet who was part of the Super-Soldier experiments during/after the war. Might’ve given him a little boost in his physical attributes, but nothing like Steve Rogers. Only as the decades pass does he realize that his aging has been slowed down. In 1948, he was the rookie . . . sixty years later, he’s running the place.
3. If you really want to mix things up . . . do a classic Nick Fury, white guy with an eyepatch and a cigar. Eventually Sam Jackson’s dad. That would be weird.
4. Or hell, just use Nia Jones. In the comics, she’s a recently introduced character who was the lover of the original recipe Nick Fury, and mother of Nick Fury, Jr. So, an African American female superspy in the late 1940s. Bet the Soviets never saw that coming. Make her the sister of Gabe Jones from the Howlers.
Q: Where’s Hulk?
A: We have several ideas for a Hulk tie-in, but they are mostly pretty crummy.