TV Review: Marvel drama captivating, empowering

Here are a couple of quick facts about me: I am a feminist and I love all things Marvel. Thankfully, ABC’s “Agent Carter” managed to combine these two great loves in one wonderful show. I was delighted to watch Peggy Carter fight sexism and criminals––and doing so while wearing kickass red lipstick. While it only consisted of eight episodes, the first season of “Agent Carter” was captivating. Following the death of Carter’s true love, Steve Rogers—better known as Captain America—the show centered on her life working as the only female at the Strategic Scientific Reserve in New York City in the 1940s.

When the brilliant, womanizing scientist Howard Stark––father to future Iron Man Tony Stark––comes under fire from the SSR for supposedly selling weapons to Russia, Stark secretly confronts Carter—an old friend—and asks her to prove his innocence. With the help of Stark’s loyal butler Jarvis, Carter conducts her own successful investigation into the sinister Leviathan operation under the noses of her male colleagues.

While “Agent Carter” definitely had some predictable elements––the romantic tension between Carter and Agent Sousa was as clichéd as it was sweet––overall, the producers created a unique and compelling plotline.

The show also did a great job of making connections to various other aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, particularly through the exploration of the Black Widow Program and an unnerving closing scene featuring the sinister hypnotist Dr. Fenhoff and HYDRA scientist Dr. Zola. The reveal of this connection between the two villains may potentially explain how Captain America’s best bud Bucky Barnes was brainwashed into becoming the Winter Solider, giving me a strong case of “the feels.”

My hands-down favorite part of the show, however, was its portrayal of Carter. Hayley Atwell performed incredibly, exhibiting Carter not as a “perfect” agent, but as a woman with her own strengths and weaknesses. At times we see her laugh, cry and scream, but she is also fearless when it comes to standing up to men; combating misogyny with a sense of self-assurance that is very empowering. Watching her physically threaten an obnoxious diner customer after he consistently demeaned her friend Angie while she was waitressing was one of my favorite moments of the season.

The series finale offered one of the most profound moments on the show that I hope women––and men––everywhere noted. When Agent Thompson––played shockingly well by 2000s heartthrob Chad Michael Murray––takes credit for Carter’s detective work, Agent Sousa angrily threatens to reveal the truth. Carter, however, stops him by saying, “I don’t need a congressional honor. I don’t need Agent Thompson’s approval or the President’s. I know my value, anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.” This message of self-confidence is both relatable and telling of Carter’s true character.

Overall, I loved “Agent Carter.” The show has action, feminism and humor and is an all-around great addition to the Marvel world. I sincerely hope that ABC will renew it for a second season, as Peggy Carter is too significant of a character––as well as too great a source of inspiration for girls and boys of all ages––to be left behind.