Marvel have dominated the comics news cycle for close to a week now. They’ve announced a new, female Thor, confirmed that Sam Wilson will shortly become Captain America and have announced the existence of Superior Iron Man, a relaunch that sees Tony Stark relocate to San Francisco.
Whilst little has been released about the new Iron Man as yet, Thor and Captain America both speak to something far more positive than a simple sales tactic. Marvel are acknowledging, and embracing, the fact their audience is diverse. Even better, they’re reconfiguring books and characters alike to represent every element of that audience.
While no female-led Marvel movies have been announced just yet, their TV shows are also embracing diversity. The cast of Agents of SHIELD is not only multi-ethnic but gender balanced and the upcoming Jessica Jones Netflix show looks set to continue that trend. Plus, given that Jessica’s friends include both Jennifer ’She-Hulk’ Walters and Carol ‘Captain Marvel’ Danvers, there’s some chance of Marvel’s best female characters making their on-screen debut during that series.
The Marvel Netflix flotilla will begin to appear in 2015. Agents of SHIELD on the other hand will return this year and bring the period adventure series Agent Carter with it. Expected to sit in SHIELD‘s mid-season hiatus, Agent Carter features Hayley Atwell’s secret agent from the Captain America movies.
Set during the early days of SHIELD, the series will focus on her twin struggles to help form SHIELD and prove herself to her colleagues. We have some idea just who those colleagues will be. Here’s a run down of the supporting characters you can expect to make their debut in the show’s pilot episode.
Deputy Director Roger Hooley is a hardworking, principled older man and Peggy’s boss. As you might expect, he’s bothered by ongoing problems in his personal life as well as the challenges of his day job.
Agent Jack Thompson is in his 30s, handsome and damn well knows it. The polar opposite of Dooley, he doesn’t take kindly to women in the workplace, nor how little recognition he gets. Worse, he wants Dooley’s job and is desperate to prove himself.
Edward Hutchins is a highly professional agent with an unusual problem; duplicity. He’s lying to his wife about what he does to stop her worrying. True Lies, SHIELD style.
Daniel Sousa is everything Jack Thompson wants to be. He’s a war hero who walks using a leg brace, but finds dealing with office politics to be harder than working around his injury. Sousa is also a fiercely honourable, gentle man and we’re betting he becomes one of Peggy’s major allies.
And outside of the agency, there’s Angie Martinelli. Working as an automat waitress, Angie dreams of being a singer. She’s a tough, compassionate young woman who is smart and loyal and seems set to be Peggy’s anchor to the world away from SHIELD.
That’s an interesting bunch, as much for who isn’t there as who is. Bradley Whitford’s wonderfully smarmy Agent Flynn clearly got his comeuppance between the Agent Carter one-shot and now, and Peggy’s new boss seems distinctly more fatherly and engaged than Flynn even was.
It’s also tempting to look at Hutchins and Sousa and wonder if one of them is Peggy’s future husband, as referenced in The Winter Soldier. All it would take is a brief mention of them being introduced to her by Captain America and that particular speculation train will be off and running at full steam.
Angie might superficially look like a stereotypical best friend. Even if she is, there’s promise in just including somebody outside of SHIELD to react to the sort of high-adventure things Peggy would find commonplace.
Still, Skye on Agents of SHIELD shows how this kind of character can go wrong. Like Skye, Angie might end up being the character who changes the most as the series goes on.
What I find most interesting is how well-grounded these characters seem. There’s more than a hint of Mad Men or Downton Abbey to elements like Hooley’s home trouble, Hutchins’ well-meaning lying and Sousa’s injury. These people are all survivors, like Peggy and, again like Peggy, they’re all carrying wounds. How those wounds reflect and inform on Peggy’s story is, I suspect, where a lot of the fun of the show will be.
Agents of SHIELD returns September 23rd with Agent Carter reportedly set fill in over the Winter. Agent Carter, and Peggy Carter, both have a lot to prove, but based on Marvel’s announcements just this week, they’re certainly feeling up to the challenge.