Will Agent Carter Be More Marvelous Than Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD?

Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) /ABC recently confirmed that it is developing a new series, Agent Carter, as the second Marvel TV spin-off following the release of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD last fall.

Peggy Carter first appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) as Steve Rogers' love interest, and later returned in a short film, Agent Carter, in the Blu-ray release of Iron Man 3 last year.

It's presumed that Hayley Atwell, who portrayed Carter in both films, will reprise the central role, but not much else is known about the rest of the cast or plot of the upcoming series.

Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), as she appears in the short film, Agent Carter. (Source: Marvel-movies.wikia.com)

However, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD hasn't been a huge success, with viewers dropping from 12.1 million for its premiere to 6.4 million in its most recent episode on Jan. 14. The show was hit and miss over most of the past 12 episodes, and has often been criticized as being too detached from the Marvel universe seen in the films.

Therefore, let's discuss three things that the premiere of Agent Carter could mean for Marvel fans and the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

1. Who is Agent Carter?

The first problem with Agent Carter is its lead character. Agent Carter is a lot like Phil Coulson from Agents of SHIELD -- neither were major characters until the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe materialized.

In the comics, Peggy Carter was the World War II era love interest of Captain America. She was left behind after Captain America was placed in suspended animation. Up until that point, the film character is fairly similar to the comic book one.

However, Sharon Carter, Peggy's sister, later became Captain America's love interest in the present day -- a glaring anachronism that led to Sharon being retconned as Peggy's niece.

The film version of Peggy Carter was later featured in the aforementioned short film, a tie-in videogame (Captain America: Super Soldier), and will appear again in the upcoming film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this April.

An older Agent Carter, as seen during the filming of Winter Soldier. (Source: Aceshowbiz.com) 

At the end of the short film Agent Carter, Peggy Carter became the co-leader of the newly created SHIELD, suggesting that the new TV series could be similar to a postwar era Agents of SHIELD.

2. A blank canvas for new stories

The gap of nearly 70 years following Captain America's departure in the first film leaves plenty of room for new stories featuring Agent Carter in the 1940s and 1950s. That could be both a blessing and a curse.

A mix of historical fiction and sci-fi could be vastly original and entertaining, since recent sci-fi shows, such as Agents of SHIELD and Fox's Almost Human, seem to slavishly imitate The X-Files and Fringe. Espionage and over-the-top battles featuring HYDRA tech in a postwar setting, on the other hand, could make for a very entertaining show.

However, the show could suffer from a major drawback -- just like Fox's upcoming series Gotham, which features Gotham City without Batman, Agent Carter will feature the world of Captain America without its titular character.

However, I have higher hopes for Agent Carter since it isn't as closely tethered to the modern day Marvel Universe as Agents of SHIELD.

With most of the ties to the modern Marvel universe severed, Agent Carter could enjoy a fresh start and appeal to audiences who didn't watch the original film. Bringing back Howard Stark, played by Dominic Cooper in the film, would be a great start -- since he could play the role of a gadget-savvy Q to Carter's female Bond.

Howard Stark, Tony Stark's father, as seen in Captain America: The First Avenger. (Source: Withanaccent.com)

3. Balancing out ABC's male and female viewership

ABC, which has a stronger lineup of female-oriented shows like Grey's AnatomyOnce Upon a Time, Scandal, and Revenge, might finally find a show that appeals to both sexes in Agent Carter. One of ABC's core strengths is its popularity among affluent women between the ages of 18 to 49 who earn at least $100,000 per year.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, as I mentioned in a previous article, is a crucial show to ABC since it represents a chance to capture that elusive male audience. Over half of Agents of SHIELD's audience is male -- higher than any other show on the network -- and an admirable feat considering that it goes head-to-head against CBS' (NYSE: CBS  )  NCIS every Tuesday night.

Agent Carter could attract an even number of female and male viewers for two simple (if overly simplistic) reasons -- women love "girl power" tales like The Hunger Games, and men could consider it an "essential" piece of the Marvel Universe.

Either way, ABC needs a shot in the arm -- last quarter, revenue at Disney's broadcasting business (primarily ABC), which accounts for 28% of its Media Networks business' top line, inched up a mere 1% from the prior year quarter. Broadcasting operating income, which accounts for 11% of the segment's bottom line, plunged 18%.

ABC also finished the 2012 to 2013 season in a mediocre fourth place among adults ages 18 to 49 and 18 to 34 -- falling far behind CBS, Fox, and Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA  )  NBC.

The bottom line

If Agent Carter is a hit, other Marvel short films -- such as the upcoming All Hail the King (included with the home media release of Thor: The Dark World), which features Ben Kingsley reprising his role as Mandarin impostor Trevor Slattery -- could lead into other new TV series as well.

It should also be noted that Agent Phil Coulson appeared in two of those short films in 2011, which could be considered as test runs for Agents of SHIELD.

While I haven't been the biggest fan of Agents of SHIELD, I'm willing to give Agent Carter a chance. The premise is intriguing and could offer viewers a unique view into a less explored corner of the Marvel Universe.

What do you think, dear readers? Are you looking forward to the premiere of Agent Carter? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 24, 2014, at 11:36 AM, laethyn wrote:

    What a stupid decision it is to create yet another TV show. By the time we see more Marvel on the big screen, people are going to be really tired of the Marvel universe.

    And if the show doesn't work, it's going to turn people off, and they won't end up in the theater.

    A bad, BAD, decision. With Agents of SHIELD being what it is, I'm already questioning whether I feel it worth my money to go see more

  • Report this Comment On January 24, 2014, at 11:46 AM, hisradness wrote:

    Marvel should take a hint from the DC Universe TV shows. If you're going to have a show about superheroes, have superheroes in the show. Don't just talk about them, or have one show up ever 4 weeks. The direction they are taking SHIELD is plodding along slowly at best. I'm amazed their viewership has only dropped by half, I record and zip through it. They will be lucky if I do that with Agent Carter.

  • Report this Comment On January 24, 2014, at 12:29 PM, Aldirick wrote:

    Okay people, lets get this straight right now. Agents of SHIELD is about people, people who are well trained to do one job, keep the bad stuff out of the bad guys hands. They are trained and paid to get the job done, they are not heroes, they are not show boats or vigilantes or beings from other worlds. They are people who believe they are working for the greater good. And working for the greater good is rarely flattering or exciting.

    I have enjoyed the series, it has pointed at the tools that the agents have at their disposal. Some people keep pointing to DC and the shows on CW network as how Marvel should do theirs. Okay, first none of the shield members are vigilantes, none were stranded on an island for years or hit by lightning or from another world. AOS has been about the new things that they have come up against, like the creation of Gravaton, and the new character to be introduced in the next episode. All Arrow has had to do is shoot people, rarely solving problems like the Agents have to. Sure make it the bad guy of the week, but we have a Meta plot in Agents, Centipede, and the clairvoyant, who does Arrow have, the bronze tiger and Slade. Sure bad guys, but you know who they are, and that makes them definate, you do not know the size of centipede or who this clairvoyant is. The mystery is what brings me back, and it should bring you back too.

  • Report this Comment On January 24, 2014, at 12:51 PM, VertigoSlideshow wrote:

    yes you can condemn a idea for a show for having no supers. then again theirs more to the marvel and DC universe's then just supers, mutants and meta's. You don't like people who are normal LIKE Coulson, so OMG a precursor to a agent Romanoff idea boohoo the fact that there going to try and show a unique perspective to a era of the world where not much is shown in the marvel world. Go watch your motion comics and chat rooms that give you your geek off and complain. if want to rag on it wait for the premiere and then have at it you nar nars.

  • Report this Comment On January 24, 2014, at 3:32 PM, ashtonwings wrote:

    I think this is a bad idea. I think Marvel needs to use characters that are more intriguing. It should feel like a comic book. The appeal of Marvel and their signature is the comics they show before all their movies. Stick with what works. They should do a poll. If they want to use someone that is not super powered, they should use someone fans are already somewhat familiar with or that has more grit. If it is a question of money use someone like the Punisher, Moon Knight, Daredevil, Bucky vs the Nazis, Sleepwalker, Deathlok, Black Widow, The Dazzler, Rogue, Jean Grey(phoenix), Machine man, What If..(watchers), Gambit, Bishop, Kingpin, Inhumans, Runaways(this would be great), or New Mutants, these last two would appeal to a young audience and could tie in to the movies. I think runaways is the best because its new and fresh-focusing on the supervillains kids.(guaranteed hit). It could appeal emotionally to women because these kids struggle with parents(yeah drama). Action and the struggle of survival with conflicting relationships this one has it all. Please do Runaways.

  • Report this Comment On January 24, 2014, at 11:22 PM, hbk72777 wrote:

    People watch shows for the Superheroes, not agents or side people. No one would watch a J Jonah Jameson show set in n office without Spiderman.

    The reason Hulk and Wonder Woman did well was because they gave us the main course, not sides.

  • Report this Comment On January 24, 2014, at 11:25 PM, hbk72777 wrote:

    "On January 24, 2014, at 12:51 PM, VertigoSlideshow wrote:

    yes you can condemn a idea for a show for having no supers. then again theirs more to the marvel and DC universe's then just supers, mutants and meta's. You don't like people who are normal LIKE Coulson, so OMG a precursor to a agent Romanoff idea boohoo the fact that there going to try and show a unique perspective to a era of the world where not much is shown in the marvel world. Go watch your motion comics and chat rooms that give you your geek off and complain. if want to rag on it wait for the premiere and then have at it you nar nars. "

    Well right now it comes off as a poor man's CSI or Law and Order. Spiderman sells comics, Hulk sells comics. Nick Fury never did.

    Besides, last time I checked, we were in America, ya friggin Liberal, stop stepping on people's right to their own opinions.

  • Report this Comment On January 25, 2014, at 8:30 AM, thenerd wrote:

    There are plenty of Superheroes that could be used on the show if its based on the late 40s and 50s. Especially Captain America! And they wouldn't need to use Chris Evans. The Government felt they needed Captain America and suited up another guy for the job along with a new Bucky, which ended up a failed experiment. Imagine Carter running into Cap on one of her missions. Plus there were plenty of Superheroes besides Cap during the 40s and 50s. Lots of good story lines they could develop with the proper writers.

  • Report this Comment On January 25, 2014, at 12:30 PM, Harris2you wrote:

    My complaint is that the show has not chosen to use any of the already established 30 Agent characters created but instead give us a re-hash of Buffy "Scoobys" instead. They tease us with things like the Centipede (you couldn't use Hydra?), hey there is an Asian guy who controls fire (Sunfire?... nope) and other dry characters. Each week is the same tag (a secret from Agent Coulson's past threatens to put the team in danger... for the 15th time).

    Ive heard that they didn't want to use Marvel characters in the show that they could use in the movies (does anybody know who Batroc's Brigade is? you mean they would use Orka in a movie? there are like a 1000 already established characters). Or that they would not want to re cast a major character (last I checked, 3 people have played the Hulk and 2 have played Spiderman in the last 10 years and NOBODY cares who is playing the characters).

    Point blank, AOS has lost a long time Marvel fanboy like me by giving us tired strorylines and since the show is becoming more of a fanciful CSI episode each week, please take the "Marvel" out of the name to keep from ruining something that I love so dearly.

  • Report this Comment On January 25, 2014, at 11:49 PM, cwwebs wrote:

    I don't have much knowledge of Agent Carter. I didn't see the short film on her.I'm aware she was a brief love interest in the early Captain America..When I read it as a small child, I was not attracted because of any love interests. Using that as a barometer, modern day life thinks that any idea that does appeal to romance to intrigue modern day women, has not value at all..I am absolutely sure that even though there are romantic scenes, they are not the reason many many people went to see Marvel films that have been hits. "The Avengers was in no way based on romantic issues, but focused on saving all humans on earth. It is the theme to hold all the various characters together. I feel competent writers could choose that as a central theme and make 12-16 weekly shows, showcase new threats or older Marvel threats to humanity and then hint with intrigue some romantic interests that don't trump the main goal that if the heroes and or supporting cast don't work together, then humanity will be lost.....It is really the similar thread that made a show like "Burn Notice" so popular over about 7 years. THE romance of the lead characters could never trump the action needed to right the wrong placed against the main character,"Michael Weston" To me this is what is lacking in the new Shield spin-off...They get bogged down in establishing some link among the characters that slows down pace of the show.At the end of the shows you don't feel like the coming threat is ominous enough or they have made any reasonable dent in there goal to protect earth.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 8:22 AM, TMFSunLion wrote:

    Thanks for reading, all --

    Well, I think Agent Carter could be lots of fun if it goes along with the "1940s serial" format that Spielberg imitated with Indiana Jones, or Joe Johnston did with "The Rocketeer".

    Crossing sci-fi swords (Stark tech vs. HYDRA) could also be lots of fun, so I'm willing to give the show a chance.

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