Agent Carter

Agent Carter’s off to Hol­ly­wood! Tara Ben­nett vis­its the LA set to get the key in­tel...

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

hay­ley Atwell is off to kick some lA ass.

The jaded Los An­ge­les of the 1940s may have seen its fair share of trou­ble, from po­lice cor­rup­tion to mob­ster wars, but the City of An­gels is about to se­ri­ously rum­ble with the ar­rival of Peggy Carter.

The Strate­gic Sci­en­tific Re­serve agent re­lo­cates from New York City to LA for a brand new mis­sion in sea­son two of Marvel’s sparky, em­pow­er­ing pe­riod drama. Hav­ing spent most of sea­son one bat­tling against the suf­fo­cat­ing gen­der bias of her male peers, Carter still man­aged to save the city from a po­ten­tially fa­tal gas at­tack and clear Howard Stark’s name. Now a grudg­ingly re­spected field agent, she’s ready to use her skills in a new town.

“At the end of last sea­son Peggy put Steve Rogers [Cap­tain Amer­ica] to rest and part of the trope of com­ing to LA is reinventing your­self,” ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer/co-showrun­ner Michele Fazekas tells SFX about their hero­ine’s mo­ti­va­tions this sea­son.

The show’s cre­ative team thought Carter root­ing out hid­den evils among the glit­ter of Golden Age Hol­ly­wood would be a per­fect fit. “The nice thing about LA, when you think about noir films of the ’40s, is that a lot of the fa­mous ones fea­ture the glam­our of the city and the crime and grit and cor­rup­tion of the city,” Fazekas ex­plains. “It’s really im­pacted our story in a great way. It’s been a rich ground to tell sto­ries here.”

The re­lo­ca­tion has also given Atwell the chance to stretch her­self. The writ­ers say they aim to utilise their star’s ver­sa­til­ity even more this sea­son. “Hay­ley can al­most do any­thing,” Fazekas en­thuses. “She’s very funny. She can do phys­i­cal com­edy. She can do drama and anger.”

Fel­low ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer/co-showrun­ner Chris Dingess is equally en­thu­si­as­tic. “There’s a con­fi­dence she brought to the char­ac­ter. Peggy is such a strong, heroic char­ac­ter and so much of that has to do with Hay­ley. There’s a con­fi­dence to ev­ery move she’s making so even when she’s vul­ner­a­ble, like when they pull the vial of [Steve’s] blood out, she’s just look­ing at it and it breaks your heart. But then she goes right back to be­ing a sol­dier. I don’t know who else could pull that off.”

Join­ing Carter in Los An­ge­les is fa­mil­iar face Ed­win Jarvis (James D’Arcy), the loyal but­ler of Howard Stark who gained Peggy’s trust as an ally by the end of sea­son one. This year the pair will con­tinue to strengthen their bond.

“Ob­vi­ously we wanted Jarvis to come back but the hard thing about him is that he’s not SSR,” Fazekas says. “[Se­ries cre­ators] Markus and McFeely did a really great job making the first sea­son about Howard Stark and clear­ing

Peggy has cer­tainly earned the re­spect of her col­leagues

his name, and that’s how they worked Jarvis into it. The ques­tion then was, ‘How do we do it this sea­son?’ Well, we use Howard Stark, who has de­cided to move his base of oper­a­tions to Los An­ge­les be­cause there is this bur­geon­ing sci­en­tific field out here, tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from Gen­eral Atomic or Ra­dio­dyne. He’s de­cided to move out here, do some con­tract work and open a movie stu­dio,” she laughs.

“When Peggy first gets here and Jarvis picks her up from the air­port, you can see he has missed the ad­ven­ture,” Fazekas con­tin­ues. “It’s a big part of his arc, hav­ing a big ad­ven­ture but what are the con­se­quences to that? It’s easy to come in and out [of this life] but how does that really af­fect him? He really gets a taste of what it means to be liv­ing this life.”

Peggy will chase her as­sign­ments from the LA SSR of­fice with Daniel Sousa (En­ver Gjokaj) as her su­pe­rior and Jack Thomp­son (Chad Michael Mur­ray) still caus­ing Carter grief from the New York of­fice. “As far as Peggy is con­cerned, she’s cer­tainly earned the re­spect of her col­leagues,” Fazekas says of the cool­ing gen­der di­vide this sea­son. “It’s not like we say gen­der is­sues are great now but we are telling our story in a dif­fer­ent way. It’s not a bat­tle she’s hav­ing to fight within the SSR.”

masqued vil­lain

Carter’s real chal­lenge comes with the ar­rival of the sea­son’s vil­lain, Whit­ney Frost (Wynn Everett). Known as Madame Masque in the Marvel comic uni­verse, Frost has un­der­gone a trans­for­ma­tion for her Agent Carter ap­pear­ance.

“At a cer­tain point when we were discussing the main story and vil­lains, we were cir­cling fe­male vil­lains,” Dingess tells SFX. “Her name came up pretty quickly. She’s not about cos­mic pow­ers, but she’s a very strong per­son­al­ity and a pow­er­ful and smart vil­lain. We started talk­ing about dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters’ bi­ogra­phies and she is a ge­nius, which is one of her ties to Tony Stark in Iron Man.”

Asked if they had carte blanche to choose from the en­tire Marvel cat­a­logue, in­clud­ing the ’40s era of strong fe­male creations like Sun Girl and the Blonde Phan­tom, Fazekas says yes – with a caveat. “Marvel is pretty gen­er­ous about who we want to use. But some char­ac­ters you just can’t use be­cause there are rights is­sues. And then there are the other shows in the Marvel Uni­verse and you don’t want to step on the sto­ries they are telling. It’s find­ing the thing that’s not go­ing to be telling a story that’s al­ready been told.”

Dingess adds, “Oddly a lot of the char­ac­ters from the ’40s – when the dif­fer­ent comic book com­pa­nies were ac­quir­ing one an­other – are the hard­est ones to get the rights to, so that played a lot into choices for both sea­sons.”

Re­turn­ing to the vil­lain­ous Frost, Fazekas con­tin­ues, “From there, we added the Hedy Lamarr story. She was a very glam­orous ac­tress who was also an in­ven­tor. So we rein­vented Frost from the comic books as this glam­orous ac­tress who is also a se­cret sci­en­tific ge­nius.”

Given the first sea­son of Agent Carter proved a shin­ing ex­am­ple of how to show­case strong fe­male char­ac­ters on tele­vi­sion, Fazekas ad­mits it was cru­cial to give Frost a story that gave her res­o­nance. “We did not want to tell the story of some­one who is evil for the sake of be­ing evil… Any­time you are play­ing a vil­lain, there’s al­ways the po­ten­tial of be­ing very arch, es­pe­cially as this char­ac­ter is also an ac­tress. We wanted to make sure you understand her mo­ti­va­tions. So here are two very smart women, who took very dif­fer­ent paths in their life, and episode four gets into that in a way where you see how it hap­pened. So even if Whit­ney is the bad guy, she’s not just evil for the sake of be­ing evil up un­til the very end. Part of you feels bad for her.”

The writ­ers also ad­mit that Rus­sian agent Dot­tie Un­der­wood (Brid­get Re­gan) will be back to cre­ate more havoc for Carter. “She got away,” Dingess says of the char­ac­ter’s dis­ap­pear­ing act in the sea­son one fi­nale. “So Dot­tie is in play and we asked, ‘What do we want to do with that?’ We fig­ured out a way to make a splash with her and then to really use her at a piv­otal point in the sea­son.”

As to how, if at all, sea­son two will tie into the big screen MCU, given sea­son two in­tro­duces the con­cept of Dark­force, a dark mat­ter of neg­a­tive en­ergy also ru­moured to fac­tor into Doc­tor Strange, Fazekas only teases, “We don’t know what it is. They come upon this thing and they don’t even call it Dark­force.”

“Our time pe­riod al­lows us to come at it from a dif­fer­ent an­gle,” adds Dingess.

And what about ru­mours of a po­ten­tial ro­mance with sci­en­tist Ja­son Wilkes (Reg­gie Austin)? Fazekas grows coy again and only teases, “Peggy meets new peo­ple and it starts to open up the idea of, ‘Maybe I can have that part of my life as well.’ And it’s been really nice to see Peggy in that light.”

Los An­ge­les, Peggy Carter walks among you…

Agent Carter sea­son two be­gins in the US on 5 Jan­uary on ABC, and in the UK on 17 Jan­uary, on Fox.

At­tack Of The 50 Foot Se­cret Agent.

Putting away the past.

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