Before Jessica Jones arrived in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the slam of a shot glass, we had Black Widow and Peggy Carter. These two women had no problem standing as equals beside the likes of Iron Man and Captain America. Natasha and Peggy didn’t have extraordinary powers or the oh-so-helpful wealth/tech combo of others, but they were capable nonetheless. And while I respect the hell out of Natasha (because how could you not), Peggy has had my heart since she first appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger.
Hayley Atwell’s portrayal of Peggy in the first Cap film made the character unforgettable, allowing Agent Carter to star in a one-shot and make cameos in several Marvel movies. Then, her story took a welcome turn: she got her own television series. Agent Carter premiered on ABC in January 2015. At the time I wrote about what Peggy meant to me and how I was hopeful about what the future held for one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D., and now I need to revisit that sentiment because ABC has canceled the series after two seasons.
It’s too soon.
Agent Carter was the first female led comic book-inspired TV show in these modern times when it’s almost easier to name a series not based on sequential art. It was overdue in that way, and also in that it was about time Peggy got more room to breathe. Seeing her pop up regularly in the MCU always made me grin, but at some point, it felt a little insulting for them to keep mentioning Peggy’s importance or giving us a scene or two without giving us the opportunity to sit down with her for hours and get to know her in a post-First Avenger world. Peggy deserved more. She still does.
Over the course of two seasons, we got intimate with Peggy. The series—executive produced by Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas—showcased Peggy’s resourceful, effective combat skills and badassery to be sure, but maybe more importantly, it didn’t shy away from lingering on Peggy’s struggles. She battled sexism throughout the first season and was forced to work around the S.S.R. to get answers. She processed the loss of Steve and found her way to opening her heart again. She wrestled with survivor’s guilt. Peggy was never in danger of being one dimensional.
Though we saw the S.S.R. finally recognize Peggy as a valuable asset—if not the most valuable one—the story shouldn’t be over. Season two ended with a threat being posed to the organization and to Peggy. Agent Carter didn’t get far enough along the timeline to show the first days of S.H.I.E.L.D. Given the role S.H.I.E.L.D. has played in the MCU, its beginning shouldn’t be limited to an offhanded comment or a couple of scenes in a movie or on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. That’s what I’m worried will happen to Peggy, and that’s not enough.
When we talk about fantastical settings and heroes, we often discuss the relatability factor. It’s not necessary for us to see ourselves in the shoes of someone like Thor, but it’s important to understand his motivations and what grounds him. That helps us connect. And that’s what I love about Peggy and why I’m not ready to let her go. She’s easy to relate to: Her spunk, sass, determination, brawler fighting style—all of it is special and everyday at the same time. Peggy is utterly human and completely wonderful, and it’s a state I both aspire to and am inspired by.
Peggy fought to prove herself. We stood beside Peggy and Agent Carter as they went up against clueless males and ratings, respectively. We saw ourselves to some degree in Peggy, and also in her foes Dottie and Whitney. We watched Peggy explore questions of morality, experience loss, and move forward with her chin up and fists out regardless of the chaos raining down upon her. We became friends with Peggy, and so we want the best for her.
And the best is for her story to continue in a meaningful, considered way. Peggy is a feminist hero, and the MCU needs her. I need her. I know your value, Peggy, even if ABC does not.