Unlike some of their other productions meant to tide you over until the next Avengers, Marvel’s newest series Agent Carter brings us the strong female lead we’ve always wanted.
The year is 1946, 12 months after the end of the events in Captain America: The First Avenger, and business as usual. With Steve Rodgers on ice, it’s up to Agent Peggy Carter to take down bad guys and 1940’s sexism alike in post-WWII New York City. Still not convinced? Here are just a few of the reasons you should be watching.
- Carter is the new Captain
Peggy Carter has always has her own motivations and goals and been so much more than just Steve Rodger’s love interest. Meeting Steve has not changed Peggy’s ambitions to help people, and neither has losing him. Peggy is out for justice, and fighting for everything Captain America stood for. This comparison has hinted at, as Peggy beats up the bad guys to the soundtrack of the Captain America radio show, where she acts out the role of Captain America over the damsel in distress. It has also been stated directly, “Wow. You sounded just like Captain America just now.”
- It passes the Bechdel Test
In order to pass the Bechdel Test, there must be at least 2 female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man. You would think such a simple test would not be difficult, but unfortunately a significant portion of films struggle to pass. Agent Carter flies through this as Peggy spends time almost every episode talking (usually to her friend Angie) about apartment hunting, work, and anything else other than men.
- It passes the Phryne Fisher Test
The Phryne Fisher Test calls for a female character in a traditionally masculine job, but who is not masculinized or sexualized and instead uses her femininity to her advantage, which Agent Carter is all about. Carter does not shy away from or ever appear to be uncomfortable with her gender; rather than hiding her femininity in order to try to earn respect from her male colleagues, she weaponizes her gender into a tool. It is because of this that Peggy is able to make so much more progress in her investigation than the rest of the SSR. From grossing out grown men by telling them about her period to dressing like a prostitute in order to investigate a bomb, Peggy uses the sexism of everyone around her to get what she wants.
- Vintage Spy Stuff
With the 1940s comes a delightful array of old-timey gadgets that we haven’t seen for a long time. The technology of Ironman or SHIELD’s latest aircraft is undoubtedly cool but Carter’s equipment, from knock-out lipstick to a pen camera, just holds a sort of nostalgic charm. Of course there’s also the agent herself. As described by The Daily Dot, “Peggy Carter’s fighting style has none of the artistry of characters like Melinda May or Black Widow. She basically slams heavy objects into men until they fall over, which is very satisfying to watch.” It really is.
- Strong female leads in more ways than one
A common misconception people seem to have is that a strong female lead is a stone cold masculine warrior who goes around punching things. While Carter does spend a lot of time beating up men, she is portrayed as emotionless. She grieves over the loss of Steve and others whom she cared about, and develops through the series as she struggles to protect her comrades from the dangers of her job while also learning to form relationships again. As discussed earlier, Peggy also embraces her gender as part of her work. She’ll throw you into a wall and she’ll do it in lipstick and heels. In this sense, it’s a strong female lead because Peggy is strong in ways more than just physically.
There are also a number of other tests Agent Carter has passed (and a few it thankfully didn’t). In the meantime, support Agent Carter by watching it on Hulu or when it airs every week on ABC to keep the show going. Agent Carter has so far been very well written in both story and characters, particularly in the limited number of episodes they’ve been given, and I for one would hate to see this show go after just a season.