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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Marvel's "Agent Carter"


via Comic Book Resources

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of Agent Peggy Carter. In addition to her death at the beginning of "Captain America: Civil War," her television series, "Marvel's Agent Carter," has been officially axed at ABC. For all intents and purposes, then, the co-founder of S.H.I.E.L.D. has effectively been phased out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

RELATED: ABC Cancels "Agent Carter"

While the news wasn't entirely a surprise -- rumors of cancellation have been circulating for weeks -- it is no less a tragic blow. After all, the MCU is sorely lacking in well-rounded female leads. That isn't to say, of course, that Peggy was alone in her complexity and strength; the MCU boasts some heavy-hitting ladies like Black Widow, Gamora, Daisy "Quake" Johnson and Jessica Jones. However, Peggy stood out from the pack, not only because she was truly the lead of her own series, but because she was so different. While Black Widow and Gamora feel compelled to make up for their own dark pasts, Peggy -- like most women -- came from a fairly normal background. She joined the war effort more because it was the right thing to do and, in that, it's no surprise she found a kindred spirit in Captain America.

There was a certain sense of joy and levity to her character, despite the hardship she went through; she never let the pain of loss or the ignorant assumptions of her coworkers stop her from living her life to its fullest potential. This, too, separated her from the MCU's other women, in that her upbeat attitude was never tempered by the tragedies of her past. She was a positive force of nature, who -- as Sharon Carter quotes in her eulogy -- would dig in and not budge if the world told her to move out of its way. She was just as important as she was stubborn, an everywoman doing the extraordinary in a time when all the odds were against her -- no superpowers required. In this, she became a wonderful role model and an inspiration to not only her friends but for fans of the show.

As the series draws to a premature close after 18 episodes spread across two seasons, so does the opportunity to show several prominent MCU events, not the least of which is the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D. What's more, despite knowing this character gets a happy ending, we never get to see it; this leaves this major Marvel character's fate unfulfilled, languishing in the obscurity of "what could have beens" -- an unsatisfactory ending for a character so entirely beloved. Worse, the series ended on a cliffhanger, leaving the life of a main character in the balance. It's heartbreaking to see Peggy Carter's final chapter end on such an unsatisfying and mysterious note.

Of course, "Agent Carter" -- like its protagonist -- wasn't perfect. While it made leaps and bounds for women in the MCU, the same can't be said for people of color. In its second season, the show started to show some potential on that front by introducing Reggie Austin's Jason Wilkes, a complex Black character who bonded with Peggy over their similar struggles in a society that didn't want them to succeed. However, this same progress didn't include any women of color. Where were the Asian American women like Hazel Ying Lee, one of 38 Women Airforce Service Pilots who died in the line of duty? Where were Black women like Harriet Ida Pikens and Frances Wills, the first two Black members of the United States Naval Reserve? As frustrating as it is that the show didn't expand its scope to characters like these, it's even more tragic that now it won't even have the opportunity. There was boundless potential left in the show for new, challenging stories, all of which will now be left unexplored.

All this considered, stranger things have happened than a show being resurrected or saved by unconventional means. For instance, "Supergirl" jumped from CBS to The CW to save its second season. "Full House" and "Prison Break" are just a few series to be resurrected on Netflix. While "Agent Carter" struggled on network television, a move to a streaming service like Netflix may just save her and even enhance her role in the MCU, in much the same way as "Daredevil" and "Jessica Jones." However, it would take mass fan support or spectacular home release sales to catch the eye of such networks, and fan campaigns like #RenewAgentCarter are vital to keeping the idea of "Agent Carter" and its fierce protagonist alive.

As sad as it is to lose "Agent Carter" on ABC, we must realize this is not goodbye -- at least, not really. We still have "Jessica Jones.", a Marvel One Shot and two full seasons of the show to enjoy when we miss her, and there's even a spark of hope she could reappear on another format. Nonetheless, the cancellation of the series is a tragic blow for Marvel fans, who embraced a promising but obscure character and made her into the star and role model she became over the years.

Here's to you, "Agent Carter." Here's to Hayley Atwell, James D'Arcy, Dominic Cooper and all the stars who truly brought the character to life. Here's to executive producers Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas and Chris Dingess, as well as the writers who turned her into a tour de force over these past five years. Here's to a crew who worked tirelessly to realize this fan favorite's potential. We know your value.

Discuss this story in CBR's TV/Film forum.  |  1 Comments

TAGS:  abc, agent carter, marvel television, marvel cinematic universe, hayley atwell, marvel studios



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