Agent Carter gets her own TV series

Agent-CarterSomewhat following up on the news from February that Black Widow will get her own film. Marvel Entertainment and ABC announced that the comic book company’s Agent Carter, will get her own 13-episode series this summer. It’ll be screened when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. goes on hiatus, before returning for its second season [we tried it, but gave up a few episodes in; our son remains a fan though]. Here’s the official blurb on the new show.

Marvel’s Agent Carter, starring Captain America’s Hayley Atwell follows the story of Peggy Carter. It’s 1946, and peace has dealt Peggy Carter a serious blow as she finds herself marginalized when the men return home from fighting abroad.

Working for the covert SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), Peggy must balance doing administrative work and going on secret missions for Howard Stark all while trying to navigate life as a single woman in America, in the wake of losing the love of her life–Steve Rogers. Inspired by the feature films Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, along with the short Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter.

Starring Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter, Marvel’s Agent Carter is executive produced by Christopher Markus, Steve McFeely, Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Jeph Loeb.

AgentCarter2It’s largely inspired by the Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter short film, included as a bonus feature on the home release of Iron Man 3, though as the blurb notes, Carter also played a significant role in the two Captain America films. But her character dates all the way back to May 1966 (making her virtually the same age as me!), first appearing in Tales of Suspense #77. In her comic incarnation, Carter joined the French Resistance, fighting alongside Captain American and falling in love with him, before suffering amnesia and being sent home.

The film – and presumably TV – version is rather different, having Carter as a British agent. Atwell says of her, “She’s an English soldier through and through, although she always looks fabulous. She might stand there with a machine-gun shooting Nazis, but she’s obviously gone to the loo beforehand and applied a bit of lipstick. She doesn’t need to be rescued. That’s exciting to me – her strength.” The period setting is interesting, not something often seen in network shows, though cable’s Mad Men shows that it can be highly successful. If Carter gets renewed, one suggestion is the show will probably move forward a couple of years with each season, up until the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’ll cover the gap in Carter’s life between the events of the two America movies, the first set during World War 2, the second during the present day.

It’s also interesting to note that the series will be helmed by two female showrunners, Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, who created Reaper, and just finished a stint working on Resurrection [which we did watch, but vastly preferred the French take, Les Revenants]. However, perhaps most relevant to this site, they were writers and consulting producers on Dollhouse, starring Eliza Dushku, which certainly had a decent quota of ass-kicking heroineocity. I must confess, I haven’t see the Marvel One-Shot as yet, but this news has certainly inspired me to see if can track it down. Below, you can find a quick clip, to whet your appetite for what is to come on ABC this summer.

Black Widow to get her own film

blackwidowVariety reported recently that Marvel Studios “is developing a film that would revolve around Black Widow,” as previously played by Scarlet Johansson in the Iron Man and Avengers entries of the Marvel Universe. She is also a significant part of their upcoming release, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and will be part of the next Avengers film, subtitled Age of Ultron, which is slated for release in 2015. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said, “Widow’s part in that is very big. We learn more about her past and learn more about where she came from and how she became in that film. The notion of exploring that even further in her own film would be great, and we have some development work with that.”

Obviously, we’re looking at this being some time off – probably 2016 at the earliest, beyond even Ant-man [says something about the studio that such a trivial character gets his own movie before any female!]. Presumably, that’ll all help keep Ms. Johansson fully-employed for the foreseeable future. However, the track record of movies based on comic-book heroines is not a great one: it’s littered with the corpses of more or less dismal failures. Elektra was likely about the last effort, close to a decade ago. Before her? Catwoman. Barb Wire. Tank Girl. All the way back to 1984’s Supergirl, the sad fact is, there has never been a broadly successful film based on an American comic-book with a female lead. You could probably also add to that depressing list, the stillborn efforts to get Wonder Woman made into a TV series or movie, and she’s certainly a better-known character than Black Widow.

Not that there haven’t been flops on the other side of the gender coin e.g. Jonah Hex or R.I.P.D. But these have been counterbalanced by smash hits: three of the all-time, worldwide box-office top ten are based on comics. That’s enough of an incentive to make studios forget the failures; the struggle of Wonder Woman show they otherwise appear to have quite a long memory for such things. However, two words have perhaps changed the landscape: Catching Fire. The biggest movie at the North American box-office released last year, it demonstrated that a young woman can carry an action franchise, appealing across the traditional divide between men and women at the cinema. While its predecessor skewed heavily female (71% over the opening weekend), Fire saw a much more even split, at 59%-41%. That’s still about the reverse of The Avengers (40%-60%), and it will likely be a tough kinda sell to pitch Black Widow’s costume as any kind of post-feminist statement.

Still, there will be a lot riding on this. If it succeeds, it could open the doors for other (arguably, more deserving) comic-book heroines to follow onto the silver screen. But if it were to tank, I may well be collecting a pension before anyone dares give another entry a large-budget treatment. But if we get more stuff like the below, I’ll take that risk.