Cast: Hayley Atwell, James D'Arcy, Chad Michael Murray, Enver Gjokaj, Shea Whigham
Director: Louis D'Esposito
Matt C: Back in 2013, Marvel debuted its first TV series, Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD, to a very lukewarm response. Big things were anticipated but the show was far from a smash-hit, and was arguably the biggest stumble commercially for the company in the live-action arena since The Incredible Hulk in 2008. Still, it was obvious Marvel wanted to be in the TV business, and those that stuck with Agents Of SHIELD can confirm it has markedly improved in its second season following it’s shake up off the back of events seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the end of the first season. Marvel have ambitious plans on the horizon via their partnership with Netflix, which will see four separate series – Daredevil, AKA Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist - dovetail into a Defenders series at some point in the next few years. Before we get to all that though (Daredevil is due this April) we have Marvel's Agent Carter, a miniseries following on from the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, that sees Hayley Atwell reprise the titular role of the plucky heroine in a male-dominated environment.
Right of that bat, it’s a far superior series to Agents Of SHIELD, even in that show’s improved state. The casting is much stronger, the period detail brilliantly realised, the action more assured and the scripting much tighter (it helps that a lot of the top behind-the-camera talent from the Captain America movies are involved). At the centre of it all is Atwell. She made such an impression in The First Avenger that there was vocal support for her character to get another outing, and the one-shot that appeared on the Iron Man 3 Blu-ray release only amplified that, as she clearly showed she had the steely stamina to hold her own with the more familiar male superheroes. She slides back into the role here with complete confidence and ease, a smart, engaging heroine who has you rooting for her in every scene. She’s well served by her supporting cast, particularly James D’Arcy as Edwin Jarvis, their banter and burgeoning friendship being a highlight. Also of note is Shea Whigham, bringing some reliable wise-ass surliness to the proceedings, while Dominic Cooper makes a thoroughly welcome cameo appearance as the suave ladykiller, Howard Stark.
A resolutely fun pulpy sci-fi/espionage hybrid (with an added dash of British stiff upper lip-ness), Marvel's Agent Carter looks like it will provide ample entertainment for anyone who enjoyed the period setting and tone of The First Avenger and is already convinced that Atwell deserves to be a star. 8/10