Su­per Woman

Bon­nie Bur­ton has plenty of time for Agent Carter

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Opinion -

Not all fe­male he­roes have to be Won­der Woman or Bat­girl. In fact, my favourite comic book char­ac­ter hap­pens to be a mere mor­tal lady with smarts, sass and some amaz­ing willpower not to smack her sex­ist co­work­ers. I’m talk­ing Agent Peggy Carter, who now has her own Marvel TV se­ries.

As a Bri­tish of­fi­cer who joined the Strate­gic Sci­en­tific Re­serve ( SSR) dur­ing World War Two, Agent Peggy Carter isn’t your typ­i­cal spy. Yes, she was the sweet­heart of Steve Rogers aka Cap­tain Amer­ica – but as we find out in the Agent Carter tele­vi­sion se­ries, she’s a woman never to un­der­es­ti­mate.

Af­ter the “death” of Cap­tain Amer­ica and post- WW2, Peggy Carter ( played by Hay­ley Atwell) throws her­self into her work, which just so hap­pens to be as an SRR field agent. To keep up her se­cret spy iden­tity, she must tell the non- agents in her life that she works for the phone com­pany – a cover that wears thin as her friends begin to won­der why she keeps such strange hours.

We can blame bil­lion­aire ge­nius Howard Stark – Iron Man Tony Stark’s fa­ther – for those af­ter- hour mis­sions. He’s on the lam from the US gov­ern­ment af­ter be­ing blamed for his danger­ous in­ven­tions end­ing up in en­emy hands. Stark claims his in­ven­tions weren’t sold but stolen.

While in hid­ing, Stark asks for Peggy’s help in re­cov­er­ing his in­ven­tions to clear his good name. But in or­der to do so, she has to go be­hind the backs of her fel­low agents who are out for Stark’s blood. Even though most of her co- work­ers think of Peggy as in­fe­rior just be­cause she hap­pens to be a woman, she can punch, kick and beat up the bad guys like the best of them.

One of the main rea­sons I love the show, and you should too, is its shout outs to real- life gad­gets used by fe­male spies. On the show, we see Peggy putting an ad­ver­sary to sleep with a kiss thanks to lip­stick laced with a seda­tive. But in re­al­ity, fe­male KGB agents dur­ing the Cold War had ac­cess to a much more pow­er­ful gad­get – a 4.5mm sin­gleshot pis­tol hid­den in­side a tube of lip­stick.

Agent Carter also shows Peggy in fash­ion­able dresses and jump­suits that both daz­zle and serve a more prac­ti­cal pur­pose. In real life, the CIA would de­sign en­tire en­sem­bles that could hide and in­cor­po­rate spy gad­gets with no one the wiser. Even jew­ellery would con­tain lis­ten­ing de­vices and tiny cam­eras for fe­male spies to gather in­tel.

But cool gad­gets aside, the thing that makes Agent Carter a TV show worth watch­ing is its re­al­is­tic por­trayal of women in the work­place post- WW2. While the men were away fight­ing Nazis, their wom­en­folk were hard at work in fac­to­ries and of­fices. But as soon as the fel­las re­turned from the war, they wanted their jobs back and for the women to re­turn home to the kitchen.

Peggy deals with this sex­ism first­hand as pro­fes­sion­ally as pos­si­ble. She had al­ready proven her­self as an in­tel­li­gent and re­source­ful agent dur­ing the war, but her co- work­ers only see her as a sec­re­tary who can’t un­der­stand the se­ri­ous­ness of their mis­sions.

Sure, Peggy can take care of her­self as she gath­ers in­for­ma­tion on the where­abouts of Stark’s stolen in­ven­tions, and pos­si­ble en­emy agents at the core of the is­sue. But she must act as a dou­ble agent with­out the help or sup­port of her co- work­ers. She is a lonely hero with the oc­ca­sional kind word from her gal pal, wait­ress Angie Martinelli.

Peggy just wants to make a dif­fer­ence and do some good. I don’t need my role mod­els to wear flashy cos­tumes and have hi­lar­i­ous su­per­hero nick­names. Peggy is the kind of gal who can kick butt while wear­ing an Edith Head dress and blazer, but also has the cun­ning that will out­smart even the most bril­liant vil­lain. I’d gladly share a desk with her any day.

I don’t need my role mod­els to wear flashy cos­tumes

Bon­nie will be the first in the queue for an Agent Carter movie.

O ur colum­nist Bon­nie Bur­ton, a San Fran­cis­cobased au­thor, has writ­ten a num­ber of books in­clud­ing her lat­est – The Star Wars Craft Book. B onnie ap­pears on the mas­sive “Geek & Sundry” and “Stan Lee’s World Of He­roes” YouTube chan­nels. M ore of her writ­ing can be found at www. grrl. com.

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