Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter, 2013.
Directed by Louis D’Esposito.
Starring Hayley Atwell, Bradley Whitford, and Dominic Cooper.
British operative Peggy Carter joins the nascent S.H.I.E.L.D. organization, where she is tasked with searching for the enigmatic Zodiac key.
We’re living in the golden age of geekdom, where our favorite comic book characters are being brought to the screen with marked regularity. Marvel has applied a grand and sweeping logic to bringing their characters to film (and soon television), but what has been the nicest surprise is how much attention they pay to the second tier characters who in the old days wouldn’t have gotten a moment in the spotlight. Since Iron Man first launched the modern Marvel movie era, there has been an effort to give exposure to smaller characters, whether it be supporting roles in big movies or in short films included with Blu-ray releases. In the spirit of Agent Coulson, Marvel has given us another great short film featuring Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter.
The film feels like a wonderful epilogue. The ending to Captain America: The First Avenger was a little melancholy. Steve Rogers wakes up decades later and the world around him has changed. That great chemistry between Chris Evans and Atwell successfully sells that heart-dropping moment when Captain America realizes the woman he loves is long gone. We’re left with that lingering sense of sadness while wondering what happened to Peggy Carter. Fortunately, we are given an answer.
It’s one year later, the war is over, and the foundation for S.H.I.E.L.D. is being laid. Carter is stuck behind a desk writing reports and doing analysis while the male agents go out for drinks. It’s a tough pill to swallow for Carter, who yearns to be back on the front lines staring down the enemy. When a call comes in after hours for a time sensitive mission, she decides to take matters into her own hands. It seems the evil organization Zodiac is up to no good. Carter ends up at a warehouse facing down a half dozen henchman, dispatching them with brutal efficiency. Atwell is so perfect in this role. She has an icy demeanor and a piercing stare that makes you believe she’s a force to be reckoned with.
Agent Carter is a great effort. A nice, compact story that gives us a lot of great moments with the character. Her office nemesis Agent Flinn (Bradley Whitford) makes for a great foil. Their abrasive song and dance is well scripted and well acted. Flinn is the type of blowhard, boys club boss that begs to be deflated. And of course, like all Marvel films there’s some great cameos and a post credit scene that should put a smile on everybody’s face. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will ask this question:
What do we have to do to get a Howard Stark movie starring Dominic Cooper? With Robert Downey Jr. presumably done with Iron Man movies, could we get Cooper in the role in some kind of time travel/alternate universe swap? Seriously, somebody make this happen.
Agent Carter is another great Marvel offering that shows how committed they are to the idea of an expanded universe where these great characters get time to shine. I suppose the best compliment I can pay the film is that I wish there was more of it. If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is half this good, we’re in for a great year.
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the novel My Career Suicide Note, is available from Amazon.