When it comes to the fate of Marvel's Agent Carter, star Hayley Atwell lays the blame at the feet of ABC. After Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. kicked off the television side of the MCU in 2013, fans couldn't help but wonder what would come next. There were several options on the table, but ultimately it was the success of Captain America: The First Avenger and the Agent Carter One-Shot that led to Marvel spotlighting Atwell's character, Agent Peggy Carter. The show helped flesh out the '40s in the MCU and gave a well-deserved starring role to Atwell (and Carter).
In the end, the show was cancelled after just two seasons, with fan campaigns quickly popping up in an attempt to revive the series. Atwell is game for an Agent Carter revival herself, and fans and Marvel creatives have stated the same. But with so much enthusiasm for the series, why wasn't it renewed for a third season? According to Peggy Carter herself, it was all down to the network.
AV Club spoke with Atwell about her role in the BBC adaptation of Howards End, and the discussion naturally turned to Agent Carter. And while we've heard various reasons for why the show got the axe in the past, Atwell puts a fine point on it.
"It’s a shame the network canceled it and wanted to put me in something more mainstream. You know, Marvel didn’t want it to end. There’s lots of online campaigns to bring her back. Fans loved her. I think it was just a network economical thing: 'Let’s put Hayley Atwell in something more mainstream that’s less genre-specific and see if we can get higher ratings.' And unfortunately, that isn’t, as an actor, anything I’ve got control over."
The show in question was the procedural Conviction, which lasted for even fewer episodes than Agent Carter. After ABC underwent a change in presidents and direction, the proposed Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV spinoff Marvel's Most Wanted (featuring the Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter characters) wound up falling by the wayside. Around that same time, it seems the network's upper echelon felt that Atwell's stardom would do better in a more generic and mainstream show. But with Conviction's low ratings and lack of a fan base, that proved to be a misguided gamble.
The good news is, Marvel never soured on Agent Carter. In fact, Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb is a big Agent Carter fan. He himself has said it was more to do with the network than Marvel that kept the series from getting renewed, so perhaps there's still a chance for Peggy's return to the MCU. Though she's passed in the present, Agent Peggy Carter spent decades working with S.H.I.E.L.D. and has plenty of S.H.I.E.L.D.-based stories left to be told. Hopefully, one of those adventures will even take the form of Agent Carter season 3... someday.
Source: AV Club