“Marvel’s Agent Carter,” the long-awaited, then promoted to death, then finally here already spinoff from the “Captain America” movies premieres tonight, and with the exception of Yahoo! party-pooper Ken Tucker (see below), the critics are welcoming it with open arms. Where the Cap movies took their cues from period war movies, “Agent Carter” is drawing comparisons ranging from “His Girl Friday” to “Scarecrow and Mrs. King,” with dialogue that, if not screwball-sharp, is at least delivered at lightning speed.
More importantly, especially for skeptics who’ve steered clear of the even more clunkily titled “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” is that creators Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters seem to have learned the lessons of that show, which started out as sluggishly fan-service and took months to develop a sensibility of its own. Perhaps “Agent Carter” benefits from its eight-episode limited run — only seven weeks, including tonight’s two-hour double shot, snugly fit between halves of “S.H.I.E.L.D.’s” second season — although you can bet if it does well enough, we’ll be seeing more of Peggy Carter and the Strategic Scientific Reserve. For now, though, isn’t it nice to sign onto a Marvel property without knowing it won’t end until 2024?
Reviews of “Marvel’s Agent Carter”
Robert Bianco, USA Today
Who knew the solution to Marvel’s problem was to turn the clock back rather than forward — and turn the spotlight over to a British woman? By setting the story in 1946, this new short-run series immediately gets a snappy, well-tailored, Hollywood-glamour look that separates it from most of TV’s offerings, And by building it closely around
Maureen Ryan, Huffington Post
The drama is every bit as brisk and engaging as its lead character, and I can only list one real objection to the show: its brevity. The first season of “Agent Carter” will consist of only eight episodes, so when Carter’s adventures end in a couple of months, I’m betting many of us will feel as though it ended too soon.
Alan Sepinwall, HitFix
Most of the creative team of “Marvel’s Agent Carter” is separate from the people who make “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” but it’s good to see the studio’s second TV series has learned so many lessons from its first. “Agent Carter,” which debuts tomorrow night at 8 on ABC with back-to-back episodes, suffers from none of the issues that held “S.H.I.E.L.D.” back at the start. There’s a central character — Hayley Atwell, reprising her “Captain America” role as British-born spy Peggy Carter — with an obvious personality and clear arc, rather than the show simply assuming you will like her because she appeared briefly in a few films.
Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times
In many ways, “Agent Carter” is the culmination of television’s recent attempt to offer an intense if scattershot seminar on modern women’s history. Shows as thematically and tonally diverse as “Downton Abbey,” “The Americans,” “Mad Men” and “Madam Secretary” all rely heavily on the changing nature of women’s roles in the 20th (and 21st) century to heighten the drama between characters and make larger points about the modern age. Being a product of Marvel and ABC, “Agent Carter” is, well, a lot more fun. Its feminist message is festooned with secret weapons, evil scientists, crazy chase scenes and, no doubt, aliens.
Brian Lowry, Variety
Marvel’s synergistic efforts remain one of its assets, but transforming a supporting player in “Captain America,” played by Hayley Atwell, into the star of a limited ABC series was inordinately opportunistic even by its standards, and as it turns out, a pretty smart bet. That’s because the combination of the British actress and post-World War II setting make the Marvel-branded vehicle, “Agent Carter,” considerable fun, and in some ways more promising than the series it’s replacing, the uneven “Agents of SHIELD.” While there’s no assurance this spinoff will have legs, the opening salvo is worthy of a hearty “Hail, ‘Carter.’”
Noel Murray, A.V. Club
Agent Carter’s creators Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely give the show a shot of 1940s pizazz, with propulsive big-band music on the soundtrack and characters who pepper old-timey slang at each other. But really, Agent Carter feels most like a throwback to the 1980s. It’s in the spirit of The A-Team, Moonlighting, Magnum P.I., Hart To Hart, Scarecrow And Mrs. King, and Remington Steele.
James Poniewozik, Time
Like a ’40s movie idol, Atwell’s Carter is more woman than girl, in her bearing, history and confidence. Agent Carter‘s writing early on isn’t at the level of the best Marvel films, or even The CW’s new The Flash–too many cartoon-bubble lines like, “It’s technology that could give the A-bomb a run for its money!” But Atwell and the producers (including Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters of the late, clever Reaper) have made something entertaining and engaging enough that you don’t miss the superpowers and spandex. Their Agent Carter doesn’t need to be super to be a heroine.
David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle
Atwell is terrific in the title role, as capable in the efficient, unflappable skin of Peggy as she is when pretending to be a blond American floozy in a gin joint. James D’Arcy is a model of amusing dry wit as Jarvis, Stark’s butler and his official liaison with Peggy. Jarvis believes in order above all things: Dinner at 7, “Jack Benny” on the radio at 8, to bed with his wife at 9. Cooper oozes ’40s authenticity as Stark, to the point where you’ll almost believe you’re watching a black-and-white period film instead of a full-color TV show.
Jason Hughes, the Wrap
“Marvel’s Agent Carter” is easily one of the most entertaining premieres of the season. It has connections to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe for hardcore fans, but it’s completely accessible to newbies as well. In an era of strong female lead performances, Hayley Atwell easily stands with the likes of Viola Davis (“How to Get Away With Murder”) and Claire Danes (“Homeland”) as a small-screen force to be reckoned with.
Ken Tucker, Yahoo!
After the muffled thud that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has proven to be, the arrival of “an eight-part television event,” the Agent Carter series, with Hayley Atwell reprising the title role from her movie appearances, is underwhelming. As with so many latter-day TV versions of superhero sagas, from Smallville to S.H.I.E.L.D., Carter teases us with glimpses of the heroes we really want to see (in this case, Chris Evans’s Captain America) while leaving the actual superstuff back at the movie theater or in your local comics shop.