Marvel is adding a second television effort to its repertoire with this month’s Agent Carter. Focusing on the story of Captain America supporting character Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell, the limited ABC series will make its debut on Tuesday, joining the slew of other comic book shows currently on the small screen. But though there may be plenty of other options within the genre to choose from, critics are already agreeing that Agent Carter is standing out from the pack in all the right ways.
Set in New York in 1946, the eight-episode series follows Atwell’s Carter after she once again finds herself marginalized by the return of the troops. Still coping with loss of love Steve Rogers, Carter struggles to balance her now-routine office duties with her secret work assisting old acquaintance Howard Stark, who has just been framed for supplying deadly weapons to the top bidder. In order to find those responsible and help dispose of the weapons, Carter must work with Stark’s butler, Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy), and put both her life and freedom at risk.
Since it was first announced, news of the show has been garnering mixed reactions. On the plus side, the series finally puts a female comic character at the forefront — something that Marvel has been criticized for failing to do in the past and that fans have long since been asking for. But some have also voiced concern that the show might lack the big action usually seen in Marvel works, as Peggy is more of a spy and doesn’t actually hold any superhero powers. So what do the critics have to say about the forthcoming series, and should you tune in?
According to early reviews regarding the series premiere, the show is definitely worth giving a shot. The first episode, which is set to air back-to-back with the second installment on ABC, seems to have put the series off to a solid start, with Atwell once again gaining acclaim for making the character irresistible to watch. As the New York Daily News writes of the spunky protagonist, “She’s not about to sit in the office and file papers or her nails, not when she has a stronger right cross than Manny Pacquiao.”
Atwell’s take on the character makes the series more appealing, particularly when combined with the show’s look. “The period setting not only gives the series an enticing look — the trappings throughout are impeccable, including Christopher Lennertz’s muscular score — but also ups the glamor quotient,” Variety reports.
Perhaps most important, though, is the positive reaction to the storyline, told from a fresh female perspective. While the series may not boast Avengers-level adventure, critics seem to agree that the relationship between Atwell’s Carter and D’Arcy’s Jarvis is enjoyable and fun. Their dynamic, matched with plenty of pithy dialogue, is already going over better than newer episodes of the show it’s standing in for, the recently lackluster Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Plus, while Agent Carter is tied to the rest of the Marvel universe, the show reportedly stands well enough on its own and doesn’t require as much knowledge of a comics background, something that’s sure to appeal to casual fans.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that the rest of the season will live up to the premiere. But from the enthusiastic critical response, it’s clear there’s plenty to like about Agent Carter so far. The two-hour series premiere airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on ABC.