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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Marvel's Agent Carter expands on the story of Captain America's female liaison and love interest, Agent Peggy Carter, cast now as an underemployed secretary-type at the covert Strategic Scientific Reserve. This series is notably less action-packed than the Captain America movies, which gives the cunning Peggy the upper hand in a male-dominated field of villains, but you'll still see gun use, fistfights, and some dead bodies. Historically rooted gender stereotypes will jump out at viewers, but it's Peggy's dogged defiance of them that will linger after the show's end. If you're already a fan of Captain America and his entourage, then this is a series you'll want to watch; if not, you might be motivated to check out the movies after being swept up in this enticing story.
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What's the story?
Set in 1946, MARVEL'S AGENT CARTER follows Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), a brilliant operative for the Strategic Scientific Reserve whose skills go mostly unutilized now that the men have returned to work following the end of World War II. Feeling expendable and pining for the kind of action she saw during the war, Peggy also is still grieving the loss of her love, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. So when Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) shows up to ask her for help in clearing him of traitor charges, she jumps at the chance to go undercover for her old friend. With the help of Stark's devoted butler, Edwin Jarvis (James D'Arcy), Peggy infiltrates a hidden market of weapons development, facing traitor allegations herself if she's ever caught. But as she follows the clues, she begins to wonder whether her old acquaintance is being entirely honest with her.
Is it any good?
This series' best-selling point by far is the character of Peggy Carter, who in Atwell's hands is as able as a solo act as she ever was at Captain America's side. Marvel's Agent Carter brings a couple of supporting characters from the Captain America stories to the forefront in Carter and Howard Stark. Obviously this will appeal to Marvel's faithful fan base most of all, but the efficiently written series gives just enough backstory to bring newbies up to speed in no time flat, inviting a wide pool of viewers and setting the scene for a scintillating action series. And speaking of action, there are plenty of sequences that involve explosions, shoot-outs, and some hand-to-hand fighting, but Peggy often heads off others with her considerable brains rather than her brawn. There also are some laughs, mostly at the hands of the mild-mannered butler-turned-spy-associate, Jarvis.
But the series' best-selling point by far is Peggy herself, who in Atwell's hands is as able as a solo act as she ever was at Captain America's side. Marvel does itself a real service by letting this beautiful, clever, self-reliant female operative crush the gender stereotypes of the time, even if it does come at the expense of a somewhat naive male clientele that's overly susceptible to her guile. What's more, as opposed to many of Marvel's heroes, she's remarkably normal, having no "super" qualities other than her intellect, courage, and determination, making her an even more likable female lead.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about female role models in movies and on TV. Who are some of your favorites? How does Marvel's Agent Carter's Peggy fit in among that group? How are their admirable qualities different from those of their male counterparts? Is this distinction a good thing?
What are Peggy's motivations for what she does? Do good motivations always excuse breaking rules? How do you think she'd react if she was double-crossed by those she trusts?
How does the violence in this series compare to that in the Captain America (and other superhero) movies? Does the fact that Peggy is a woman account for some of the change? Is violence ever the appropriate response to conflict?
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