TV is quickly becoming like the cineplex, as the most anticipated and high-profile new shows in the fall 2014 - spring 2015 season are comic book TV series. DC Comics and Warner Bros will have no less than five shows airing in the fall (Arrow, Constantine, The Flash, iZombie and Gotham); however, Marvel is following suit by finally confirming previous speculation that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will get a season 2 renewal, and that the previously announced Agent Carter series has been ordered directly to series by ABC.
We have a whole separate editorial about why Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. deserves its season 2 renewal, but to give you the short version:
Despite some big stumbles coming out of the gate (namely flat characters, a cheesy tone, and an overall lack of synergy with the big movies), the show has gained its footing since the winter hiatus, managing to find interesting ways to open up the characters and establish a more adult espionage drama tone. Thanks to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and some appearances by second-tier Marvel movie stars, the ties to the cinematic universe have become tighter and more relevant- to the benefit of both the show and the films.
That's all to say: We're cautiously optimistic about this show (which we've admittedly been hard on from the start) getting another chance to prove itself as a successful step in Marvel's grand multi-media universe-building.
The more interesting part of Deadline's report on Marvel's TV offerings is the announcement that Agent Carter has been ordered straight to series by ABC. The titular character was introduced to the MCU in Captain America: The First Avenger as both a warrior and love interest worthy of Steve Rogers; the character has since made appearances in her own Marvel One-Shot short, as well as getting a moving (and tragic) epilogue in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That foundation is what motivated ABC to commit to a series order.
Hayley Atwell's contract with Marvel was extended, and the actress will be starring in this TV adaptation of her character. The burning questions is: What will a Peggy Carter TV show be about? Here's what we know so far:
- It's set in 1946, a year after the end of WWII. (Period piece.)
- The show deals with Peggy returning home to world where her sex makes her marginalized in society - especially as a single woman/warrior whose heart is broken by the loss of Steve Rogers.
- The hook is that Peggy goes to work for SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), running secret missions for Howard Stark - presumably the first threads of what will eventually become S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Showrunners are Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, creators of the late-2000s TV series, Reaper (which never got its proper due, IMHO).
- It's mentioned that Agent Carter could be used as a bridge gap between the fall and spring halves of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Agent Carter series is a somewhat bold move - but it is not at all unwise, for some key reasons:
- Marvel is getting in front of the "diversification race" by launching a major property centered on a female character, with female showrunners, in a way that actually acknowledges female concerns (as reflected through an old era).
- Atwell and her performance were a distinctly strong part of First Avenger, so the character is already proven as effective.
- Months ago (when the pilot script was written) if you had asked us if Agent Carter was Marvel TV's smartest move, we might've scoffed; however, Captain America 2, the latter half of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1 and a whole lot of HYDRA have altered the playing field in Agent Carter's favor.
- On a business side of things, the "Agent" title being shared between shows creates a more cohesive overall brand for the TV branch of the MCU.
Seriously, the events of Winter Soldier and HYDRA's big reveal have sparked interest in this corner of the MCU like never before. Even though Captain America 1 & 2 pretty much bookend Peggy Carter's story in this universe, given what we know now, the prospect of watching her, Howard Stark and Col. Phillips build S.H.I.E.L.D. - only to be infiltrated and undermined by HYDRA - is the sort of journey whose pleasures make the destination irrelevant. In other words: this concept is fertile ground on which to build a solid multi-season show.
The question now turns to the usual Marvel Shared Universe concerns: Will movie actors like Dominic Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones step onto the small screen to reprise their roles as young Howard Stark and Col. Phillips (respectively) in the series? Will we see pivotal moments like Toby Jones' Arnim Zola being brought in to work for S.H.I.E.L.D.? Will we see any of the Howling Commandos actors? What other secrets about the MCU (or previously unseen characters) will this series offer? And how, exactly, will it correlate to the events of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and upcoming Marvel movies?
Details will be forthcoming as the show approaches its premiere date - but for now, just one question matters: Will you be tuning in to the Marvel TV universe this fall?
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 and Agent Carter will soon have official premiere dates and times. We'll keep you posted.