Long before Disney+ existed with its slate of Marvel Cinematic Universe TV shows, and even before Netflix released theirs, there were only two: “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Agent Carter.” One had a seven-season run on ABC where it grew a devoted following, while the other got only two seasons on the same network. But, according to the man who ran ABC at the time, the latter would definitely go further if it were made today.
“Agent Carter” followed Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), who we first met in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” in the time immediately following Cap’s presumed death. During this time, she works at the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), but also secretly works alongside Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) and his butler Edwin Jarvis, developing the friendship that would lead them to create S.H.I.E.L.D.
In its first season, the show put up mediocre numbers for ABC, but then-president Paul Lee was an advocate for “Agent Carter” and gave it a second season, after which it was canceled. Looking at the TV landscape now, Lee feels pretty confident the show was simply born out of time.
“Look, structurally, don’t forget, it was at a time when Marvel movies and Marvel TV were separated. So I think one of the reasons it would do better today is that the platform is used to it,” Lee told TheWrap. “And it would have sat brilliantly amongst those. But it was a great early suggestion of where the Marvel brand could go and very useful to everybody.”
“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Agent Carter” were overseen by Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb, not Kevin Feige who oversaw the MCU movies. As a result, there was a disconnect in the storytelling and neither show paid off on the kind of crossover that MCU fans were hoping to see. “S.H.I.E.L.D.” was co-created by Joss Whedon after he made “The Avengers,” but he couldn’t remain intimately involved in the show when it came time to go make “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” And when Feige and Co. decided to blow up S.H.I.E.L.D. in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the TV show had to figure out a way to deal with the consequences.
Now, Marvel TV is under Feige’s purview and the slate of Marvel Disney+ series were all created with the grand design of the MCU in mind.
“I think also were it done today, there would be more synergies between the television and the movies, both creatively, and also in terms of storyline and otherwise,” he said. “But we were thrilled to do ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and ‘Agent Carter,’ because they blazed a path that was very profitable for the Walt Disney Company over time.”
“Agent Carter” is currently available to stream on Disney+.