Bonnie Burton has plenty of time for Agent Carter
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.