Friday, February 12, 2016

"Viewing" Materials: Agent Carter (or, why the 40s is so fun)

Time for a review.  Typically I call these "Reading Materials."  But tonight, I'm going to go with "Viewing."  'Cuz I love this show and want to blog about it.

The great thing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe for me is how it connects.   They don't in an overt way.  They don't connect the dots for you.  They put pieces in.  They build bridges that are interesting.  But it means each part of the MCU kinda has to stand on its own to work.

Well, unless you are a badass like Agent Carter.

Yep.  Before you look at Jessica Jones for interesting women characters; remember Agent Carter.  This is the show that scratches the itch you have for a Black Widow movie.  And people watch it.  How?  WHY?

It's about struggles we all love to see!

A Theme of Struggle.

The themes of Agent Carter deal with the social norms of the 40s.  Carter herself has to deal with being a woman in the postwar world.  Peggy Carter, treated as just another part of the secretary pool.  But not just that.  It isn't a nostalgic glance back.

It's a fun, but honest, take on a earlier age.

That's the thing that I like about Agent Carter.  I mean, the whitewashing of a setting kinda ruins the point of struggles.  Carter has a struggle against the society around her.  Even against her own notions of what or who she is supposed to be.

We need more stories about how bad we used to treat those not in the majority.  Not to forsake the struggles of our time.  There is a importance in the metaphor of stories like that in Agent Carter.

The tale of how women and their positions were raised during World War II.  Then lowered back to what society deemed "normal."  That still resonates.  The story of how some had less power.  All because of a disbelief about their abilities.  Even when they are better than their white male peers, in the case of Carter.  Marvel always has a tendency to touch on some sort of flaw, be it in the setting or the characters or the story itself.

The metaphor sets up a struggle, where you're trying to overcome something.  It's a woman against her own people, even if she's trying to save them all from some nefarious scheme.  Which runs counter to the usual in my estimation.  Those who recognize Carter's ability are the exception, not the rule.

Which is a interesting struggle to watch.  Like all stories, it helps you to start to feel sympathy with the role Peggy's cast in.  Which is part of the point of such stories.  Action is all the better if it also feels like it advances the role of women along the way too.

The Past.

The other part of Agent Carter, is that you know how it ends.  This gives it a interesting thrill.  This is because, outside of Carter, no one else has any real job security on the show.  Any of them could die- I mean, no remembers Sousa.  Carter founded Shield, so only she has the permanence in the tale.  But even then, that doesn't ruin the tension.

You kinda enjoy each time Carter gets to be Carter.  And the show has a constant happen of upending expectations.  Enough episodes in, and you start to find that things are never what you expect.

The villains from season one touch on that.  And season two continues the same themes among the villains.  Twisty, bad guys who reflect back aspects of Carter.

That's the other shoe that Agent Carter fills.  It lays down line that other shows or parts of the MCU can tie into without having to actually tie into.  Agents of Shield already plays into this.  Although they never sacrifice their own stories.  Especially not for the sake of getting "X character to appear on Y show."

Some dislike the loose disparity between various MCU properties.  I've found, that unlike other people, I don't mind.  Agent Carter doesn't feel like Agents of Shield or Daredevil or Jessica Jones.  But key things still link them.  The Stark family.  Super-science gone awry.  Roxxon.

That's kinda the diamond in the rough to all this.

It feels like a reward to enjoy Agent Carter, then find the parts that vibrate into the rest of the MCU.  Because it does.  The first season tied into the background of the Black Widow.  And it did that without explicitly saying that.  Season two feels like its presenting new pieces for the rest of the MCU to play with.

I enjoy Agent Carter.  So far, it keeps doing what it says on the tin.  Carter kicks ass.

PS: Marvel, we still need a Black Widow movie, plx.