Of all these projects, Agent Carter is the most ambitious, using the Captain America: First Avenger character to create period piece TV series that has to connect with both the established historical and modern-day Marvel Cinematic Universe. Like we said: ambitious.
To Agent Carter’s credit, casting has been looking good. Having First Avenger and Winter Soldier star Hayley Atwell actually leading the TV series is a big win; her presence brings authenticity and authority to the show, whereas a recast would’ve done quite the opposite.
Similarly, First Avenger star Dominic Cooper will reprise his role as Howard Stark, keeping ties with the Marvel films strong. The series also added another noted English thespian in James D’Arcy (Cloud Atlas), playing iconic Stark family butler, Jarvis, in his pre-A.I. human form. Also in supporting roles are One Tree Hill star Chad Michael Murray as Agent Thompson, and Enver Gjokaj (Extant) as Agent Sousa.
Now Agents Carter, Thompson and Sousa will have a boss, thanks to the casting of Shea Whigham, best known for his role as Eli Thompson on Boardwalk Empire.
Deadline reports that Whigham will play Agent Carter’s male lead, Chief Roger Dooley, head of the Strategic Scientific Reserve – aka the clandestine organization that eventually evolves into S.H.I.E.LD. Dooley is based on an actual Marvel Comics character; suffice to say that it’s a pretty obscure character, with plenty of room for free interpretation and expansion.
Ironically, Whigham’s role on Boardwalk Empire was that of a chief lawman – a sheriff to be exact – and not exactly a morally upstanding one. Given what we found out in Captain America 2 about the darker side of the S.S.R.’s history (Hail Hydra), it’s entirely possible that Whigham’s experience playing a compromised man of authority was a direct influence on landing him this new role. In other words: Will Dooley be a snake in the garden?
Honestly? Hopefully. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got so much better when a character like Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) flipped and revealed a nefarious true nature. Whigham is a great character actor on a normal day – but even better when given something more extreme to work with. For example:
On the whole, Agent Carter is doing the opposite of its companion series – i.e., casting more established and recognized actors in the principal slots. As stated, so far there is little to complain about (far as we see it); in fact, Agent Carter‘s pilot could quickly and deftly demonstrate that Marvel TV has learned from its freshman missteps.
Agent Carter will premiere on ABC in January 2015 – while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is on hiatus.