The Marvel Cinematic is a behemoth that boasts an abundance of characters who deserve their own movies and TV shows. As WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier have demonstrated recently, characters who were previously considered secondary are getting the chance to claim top-billing as well. If only Agent Carter was saved for Disney+ instead of being underutilized on network television.
Agent Carter showed that Marvel was willing to give background characters their own shows long before WandaVision and The Falcon and the WinterSoldier came along. It also proved that the MCU has always been open to using the small screen to branch out and experiment with genres.
Set in the 1940s, Agent Carter follows the titular agent (played by the marvellous Hayley Atwell) as she carries out secret espionage missions and fights against the patriarchy. For the most part, Agent Carter is a straight-laced detective series with noir sensibilities, which makes it stand out in a franchise that’s explored the cosmos. And that’s what made the show so much fun.
Unfortunately, this approach didn’t attract a high viewership, and Agent Carter was cancelled after two seasons. Let’s dig into it.
Agent Carter was too niche for a long-term commitment from ABC
The series’ low ratings certainly didn’t help the show’s chances of survival, but there’s more to the story. In an interview with The AV Club, Atwell revealed that ABC wanted to use her talents in something more mainstream. After being cast in the legal drama Conviction — which only lasted for one season — Agent Carter was sent to the TV graveyard, even though Marvel was supposedly keen for the show to continue.
“You know, Marvel didn’t want it to end. There’s lots of online campaigns to bring her back. Fans loved her. I think it was just a network economical thing: ‘Let’s put Hayley Atwell in something more mainstream that’s less genre-specific and see if we can get higher ratings.’”
ABC also went through some changes at the top that negatively impacted Agent Carter. Former president Paul Lee had a scheduling method that would air smaller shows in the timeslot of more popular series while they were on hiatus. However, when Channing Dungey replaced Lee, the network dropped the bridging method and brought back its tentpole shows much sooner. Thus, Agent Carter was considered redundant and given its marching orders.
Will Agent Carter ever return?
Fans have been trying to get Marvel to bring back Agent Carter since its cancellation. Petitions for its return are still gaining thousands of signatures, and I hope you sign every single one of them. Furthermore, Disney+ would be the ideal home for the revival. But, will it ever happen?
Co-creator Stephen McFeely isn’t optimistic about the dream resurrection. He previously told The LA Times that Agent Carter was expensive to make, and he wasn’t sure if there was a big enough fan base out there to warrant the financial investment.
McFeely may have been unnecessarily pessimistic, though. Jeph Loeb, the executive vice president of Marvel Television, revealed in a 2018 Reddit Q&A that the company is open to bringing back Agent Carter — IF any networks are interested. It’s unknown if they’re willing to host a revival on Disney+.
Atwell might need some convincing to reprise the role as well. As Digital Spy highlighted, the Peggy Carter actor will only return if it feels right, as she isn’t interested in repeating herself. That would mean giving the show higher production values and making it feel relevant and contemporary.
“If she’s had an impact on audiences, let that impact grow, so it delights them, but I think it should be to do with more of the current climate now. What are smart issues to bring up? How to create any sort of kind of social weight, an emotional kind of gravitas to the show.”
Peggy is a strong character who can make an impact all over again. She just needs the vehicle to do so.
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