There are so many reasons to be upset about the loss of Marvel’s Agent Carter. Maybe you really liked the way the show handled its characters’ post-war trauma and wanted to see where that would go. Maybe you were captivated by the budding romance between Peggy and that-guy-who-isn’t-Captain-America. Or maybe you appreciated the lessons on finding self-worth, while being underestimated by your peers. For me, cancelling the show means never getting to see Peggy’s own Avengers team fully assembled.
Over at DC Comics, Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and their pals form the Justice League. Much like Marvel’s Avengers, the Justice League brings together heroes with different abilities, strengths, and personalities to create a superhero team. Unlike the Avengers, though, the Justice League has a predecessor, The Justice Society of America. There are a few different versions and backstories for this team (because comic books) but after 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths series, the JSA was established as a World War II–era precursor to the Justice League. The modern day JL had Barry Allen as the Flash, while the JSA had Jay Garrick. The JL had Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern, while the JSA had Alan Scott.
In Agent Carter, we got to see Peggy start to form her own early World War II–era version of The Avengers. That’s right, the woman who helped found SHIELD also unwittingly laid the groundwork for The Avengers Initiative—Nick Fury’s original plan to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more. Let’s take a look at the characters that make up Peggy’s Avengers and see how they compare.
Peggy Carter / Captain America
Ok, let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. Peggy’s connection to Captain America (a.k.a. Steve Rogers) is evident from their sadly short amount of screen time together in Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Solider. Steve and Peggy manage to equally inspire each other to trust their gut and fight for what they believe to be right. They are both the moral centre of their teams and lead with confidence and a personal compass needle that always points north.
Edwin Jarvis / Vision
Tony Stark’s favourite artificially intelligent manservant Jarvis was presumably based off of his father’s long-time friend and butler, Edwin. This AI, combined with some Infinity Stone mojo, would go on to become Vision. So right from the get go there’s some of original recipe Mr. Jarvis built into Vision’s personality. He’s calm, analytical, and finds value in helping the team. They are also both passionate (something the newly created Vision is still getting used to) and prone to letting their emotions cloud their judgment when someone they care about gets hurt.
Howard Stark / Iron Man
Much like Edwin’s personality being passed down to his modern day equivalent, Howard Stark has had more to do with Iron Man’s temperament than anyone else. Howard has a keen technological eye and is constantly creating new inventions and upgrading his older work. He’s a partier and a flirt, and watching him in Agent Carter has fully explained where Tony got the ego and bravado that characterized him for so long.
Daniel Sousa / Hawkeye
After working in New York with the main branch of the SSR, Daniel Sousa packs up his bags and moves to Los Angeles to found the West Coast office. And in 1984, Hawkeye did the exact same thing. Twenty years after joining the team, Clint Barton moves to LA to found and lead the West Coast Avengers. Both characters are generally mild-mannered (boring) but ultimately both have shown that they are as willing to take orders, as they are to give them. And while both men may be searching for a quiet, white-picket-fence sort of life, neither can turn away from a situation going south. Another key similarity between the two characters is that over the years, Hawkeye has been portrayed as being deaf or near deaf (once due to his own arrow and once because a psychotic clown stabbed him in the ear). Sousa’s legs were crippled during World War II and both characters have been shown struggling (and even thriving) with their disabilities.
Dottie Underwood / Black Widow
Dottie Underwood and Natasha Romanoff have the same Black Widow training (and same kickass leg strangle move) but they’re at different points in their stories. When we are first introduced to Natasha in the Marvel Cinematic Universe she is already an agent of SHIELD. This left her time in the KGB and ultimate defection as nothing more than backstory. In Dottie, we get to see a character that is still under the influence of the original Black Widow program at the Red Room Academy. It helps too that many of Dottie’s outfits in Agent Carter look like the dresses that Natasha was shown wearing in her first few appearances, before donning the iconic Black Widow costume. At the end of the series Dottie is still a Russian spy but we see glimpses throughout the series of the redeeming effect that working with Peggy is having on her.
Rose Roberts / Agent 13
Sharon Carter (a.k.a. Agent 13) hasn’t officially joined the Avengers in the MCU but in the comics she’s been a member for a few years and was an original member of the Secret Avengers. When we first meet Sharon in Captain America: The Winter Solider, we’re led to believe she’s just a nurse who happens to live across the hall from Steve Rogers. In season one of Agent Carter, Rose Roberts is also leading a double life. To the outside world she’s just a switchboard operator for the New York Bell Company. It isn’t until later that we learn she’s undergone the same training as the other SSR agents. Rose and Sharon are resourceful and compassionate, and both look to Peggy and Steve respectively for inspiration. In my own personal headcanon, little Sharon knew a much older Rose when she was growing up and was just as inspired by her as she was her aunt Peggy.
Aloysius Samberly / Ant-Man
Samberly doesn’t have a huge role in Agent Carter, but then again neither does Ant-Man in the MCU. Traditionally, Ant-Man is the technological brains of the Avengers (especially if Tony isn’t on the team at the time). He’s driven by a desire to help the team with his inventions and is constantly trying to prove himself. He sometimes suffers from the similar sort of hubris that so often plagues Tony Stark but lacks Stark’s machismo and bravado. The same can be said for Samberly, whose inferiority complex shines in much of season two. He comes through in the end, though, by coming up with a lot of the tech that helps the team.
Jason Wilkes / The Hulk
Jason Wilkes and Bruce Banner are both accomplished scientists and both are given their abilities from a science experiment gone wrong. Their experiments literally blow up in their faces. Bruce has to slowly learn how to control his emotions in order to keep his powers in check while Jason’s connection to zero matter makes him quick to anger and generally more volatile. For both characters, their abilities are a curse as much as they are a gift and both are left feeling like they’ll never be able to fit into society again.
It’s unfortunate that, due to the show’s cancellation earlier this year, we’ll never get to see Peggy’s Avengers fully assembled. By the end of season two, the team rallies to stop the Big Bad (in this case Whitney Frost/Madame Masque) but I can’t help but wonder what the team could have looked like with time. In movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War we’re shown a team that has trained together and runs like a well-oiled machine, something that this original team of ragtag remarkable individuals never got to experience. Sadly we’ll never know how Peggy’s personal superhero team might have led to the founding of SHIELD. After all, in Nick Fury’s own words, the whole point of SHIELD’s Avengers Initiative was to “see if they can work together when we needed them to. To fight the battles that we never could.”