Marvel gets more ambitious with their one-shot films, expanding their cinematic universe a little further around a strong female protagonist.
Ever since The Consultant, the 2011 direct-to-video film that appeared on the Thor DVD and Blu-ray, the Marvel One-Shot films have served as fun linking segments between the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With last year’s Item 47, the films got a little more ambitious, weaving a 12-minute narrative short that gave a human face to the growing fictional world. With Agent Carter, the same cinematic leanings are employed, only this time crafting a direct sequel of sort to Captain America: The First Avenger.
As the 1940s said goodbye to Steve Rogers, trapped in ice until he could be thawed out in the 21st century, so too did Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), his wartime ally and unrequited dance partner. With the war behind them, Carter finds that she is now the victim of sexual discrimination within the fledgling S.H.I.E.L.D. program, continually passed over for assignments by her boss Agent Flynn (Bradley Whitford), who doesn’t believe that women should be in the spy game. However, when she is the only one around to accept the assignment that pinpoints the mysterious Zodiac, she sets out to prove her mettle and get the job done.
It is terrific to see Marvel bring back one of their leads for this short, having previously focused on supporting characters and stock footage. Atwell shines in the role, comfortably stepping out in a solo debut and literally kicking ass in her action hero persona. She doesn’t simply get the opportunity to crack some skulls, but she also dabbles in a bit of early Cold War espionage. Let this film be a lesson to anybody who says that a female-led comic book adaptation is in the “too hard” basket.
Director Louis D’Esposito, executive producer on many of the Marvel Studios films along with directing Item 47, returns to give this extended short a sense of continuity. This is not a hastily cobbled together collection of B-Roll footage, but a fully realised Marvel film that happens to be two hours shorter than the average feature. Similarly, Eric Pearson has written all of these one-shots to date, and maintains a consistent feel within the wider Cinematic Universe in this short, actually providing a linking segment that is something more than a one-note punchline.
It might be a continuation, but Agent Carter feels like the start of something bigger for Marvel. Fans will also appreciate the appearance of a couple of cameos towards the end of the film, some familiar faces from Captain America: The First Avenger. As the credits on this Marvel One-Shot close, we are promised the return of Steve Rogers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. What we really want now is the promise of more adventures of Peggy Carter as the formidable S.H.I.E.L.D. operative throughout the decades.
Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter is released on the Iron Man 3 DVD and Blu-ray, available from 28 August 2013 in Australia, and 24 September in the US.