Hayley Atwell’s ‘Agent Carter’: What We Want To See

Marvel appears ready to bring Peggy Carter to weekly television, and here's how they need to do it.

Peggy Carter never got that dance with Steve Rogers, but Marvel has one hell of a consolation prize in mind.

Hayley Atwell’s British spy is at the heart of a possible new television series, titled “Agent Carter,” focused on the “Captain America: The First Avenger” heroine’s continued operations after Cap’s disappearance. The Mirror reports that Marvel plans to unleash the long-rumored “Carter” series “at the end of the year,” but there’s still no official confirmation from Marvel at this time. For now, just consider this another step in the right direction for a TV show that absolutely needs to happen.

Well, “Agent Carter” doesn’t have to happen, certainly not if it’s not done the right way. Marvel’s overall success-rate is high, but Agent Coulson knows a thing or two about the company’s stinkers.

In order to avoid any “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” wonkiness, here are some things Marvel needs to keep in mind as they push “Agent Carter” forward:

It’s All About Peggy
Her name is right there in the title, after all. It’s why the “Agent Carter” One-Shot worked, and it’s why the show will or won’t work: Peggy has to be front and center, right at the heart of the matter, every single time. Even if she’s not physically in the thick of the action on every occasion, her life and her story has to matter on a very real and very immediate level every single week, or else there’s no reason for the show to exist.

It’s Not All About Peggy
One character can’t carry a show. Marvel needs to surround Peggy with equally compelling characters, preferably a few that we already know. Pull in from the Howling Commandos ranks if possible; Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan would be a great start. Make sure to get Dominic Cooper’s Howard Stark in for a cameo from time to time, too. Surround Carter with a colorful, memorable cast of characters, and we’ll be on the right course.

It’s All About Steve
More so than even “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” an “Agent Carter” show is, by design, tied up with a particular Marvel Studios franchise. Carter’s association with Steve Rogers is absolutely key to her character — a tricky thing, considering, well, Chris Evans is kind of a big deal, and probably won’t pop into “Agent Carter” very often, if ever at all. Somehow, “Agent Carter” needs to find a way to deal with the Cap question in a satisfying way, even knowing he can’t be a weekly part of the show. Not an easily surmountable issue, to be honest.

It’s Not All About Steve
Of course, even if Steve “died,” Peggy survived. She had a life before Captain America, and she’ll have a life after him. Perhaps that’s how the show answers the Cap question: By inviting the viewer to watch Peggy’s recovery, to allow her to walk away from the tragedy with renewed strength and power. The Peggy Carter show can’t move away from “Captain America” entirely, but it can’t sit in the corner mourning “the dance that never was” all the time, either.

It’s All About Money And Time
Marvel’s World War II era provided fascinating material in “The First Avenger,” and the same will be true for “Agent Carter.” A weekly dose of Marvel, cast against the backdrop of an age gone by — who’s going to say no to that? Well, people in charge of budgets might want to say no to that, or at least find ways to scale down costs. Here’s some free advice, Marvel: Don’t be cheap. The cost-cutting shows on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and that series is set in the modern-day. “Agent Carter,” as a period piece, is bound to cost a few more pennies. Accept that fact now, and pony up accordingly, or don’t make the series at all. It’s that simple.

It’s All About Timing
Marvel can get ahead of most (maybe even all) of “Agent Carter’s” potential problems with one simple move: Making “Agent Carter” a limited series. Put a number on the episode-count — let’s call it eight — and bill the series as a done-in-one-season affair. It turns “Agent Carter” into an event. It gives writers the opportunity to properly plan a contained arc. It gives Marvel license to spend a little more money on the short order of episodes. Perhaps it gives the project enough weight to lure someone like Chris Evans for a few weeks of shooting. And if it’s a success, Marvel can always announce “Agent Carter 2: Electric Boogaloo” for the fall of 2015.

Let us know how you think Marvel should approach “Agent Carter” in the comments section below.

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