Agent Carter: Fighting Crime and Misogyny

Marvel is notorious for being a boy’s club, since every comic is about a Super-MAN and his love interest.

Agent Carter is the first female “superhero” without supernatural powers or anything more than military training. While Natasha Romanoff (also known as the Black Widow) was still learning to walk, Agent Carter was kicking Hydra’s behind and keeping Stark technologies out of the hands of foreign entities and terrorist agendas.

“Agent Carter” is a television show that premiered early this year about a girl pushing against the accepted subservience of women in post-WWII society. After being eternally connected to the fate of Captain America, Peggy Carter makes a life for herself in the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR). During the war, she was responsible for the creation and continued success of Steve Rogers.

The story of “Agent Carter” began one year after the events that took place in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” While Carter’s love interest was frozen in ice and being stabilized due to the Tesseract, she was building alliances and developing herself as a secret agent in the SSR.

Her assignment throughout season one is self-assigned. Carter’s goal was to prove the innocence of Howard Stark, Captain America’s creator, after his inventions caused havoc on American soil. The SSR had other plans – they saw him as a traitor to his nation and subject to arrest, and Carter’s conflict of interest grows throughout the season until its jaw-dropping finale.

The show’s biggest obstacle is Chad Michael Murray’s character, Agent Jack Thompson, who is misogynistic and perpetuates the homemaking ideals of the ’50s onto Peggy, who is forced to retrieve his lunch almost every day. He asks her to file reports for him even though her clearance and title are the same as his. In episode 4, Carter and Thompson have a confrontation.

Jack Thompson: You’re trying to hide something, Peggy. The only one you’re fooling is you.

Peggy Carter: What’s that?

Jack Thompson: The natural order of the universe. You are a woman, no man will ever consider you an equal – it’s sad, but it’s the truth.

From the beginning, Agent Thompson was a force against her in the SSR, but she was always able to combat him with witty banter. Her responses to him show us her capability to assert her female characteristics, all while remaining strong and independent.

Jack Thompson: If you don’t mind, these surveillance reports need to be filed, and you’re really so much better at that kind of thing.

Peggy Carter: What kind of thing is this, Agent Thompson? The alphabet? I can teach you. Let’s start with words beginning with A.

Things take a turn, though, when Thompson shares his haunting WWII story, confiding in her, which wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t see her as an emotional equal, realizing her importance to the agency.

He even goes on to defend her work to their force captain once back in the United States, allowing for her to stand out in the investigation task force.

Young girls need a female Marvel influence. Yes, seeing “Captain America” or “Iron Man” is fantastic – and they,  too, can be role models. But seeing a woman stand up for her beliefs and stand her ground will help boost female confidence.

People may respond that the universe already has Natasha, but honestly, until she has her own movie, her platform for women’s empowerment is low. Agent Carter is the first Marvel Universe female lead.

This show was made by popular demand for a female character story, but now that it is on the air, ratings are so low that its creators didn’t think they would finish out the season.

After accounting for playback on DVR or Hulu, the ratings increased – but not to the predicted levels, causing wavering confidence in the community and in the network. It is unlikely that “Agent Carter” will return for a second season, even though she has been creating a new area of Marvel that benefits the entire entertainment universe.