To say that Marvel’s Agent Carter, the next addition to the Marvel television universe on ABC, is highly anticipated is pretty much an understatement. With the popularity of Hayley Atwell’s character in both Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Solider, not to mention the awesome One Shot Marvel produced, it’s not hard to get excited at the aspect of a whole show centering around Peggy Carter. While at San Diego Comic Con promoting the new show, I was able to sit down to a round table interview with Hayley Atwell herself and also Executive Producers Louis D’Esposito, Stephen McFeely, Christopher Markus, Michele Fazekas, and Tara Butters to discuss what is in store for Agent Carter.
During the conversation, they talked a lot of what the portrayal of Carter in her daily life, living a double life to her friends and family, the possibilities of a crossover with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and easter eggs, whether or not Carter might have a new love interest, how excited they are to be doing a period piece, and Carter’s personal relationship with a surprising character. Read the full interview after the jump.
Hayley Atwell and Louis D’Esposito
Question: Are you excited to be at Comic-Con?
What’re you excited about now that you have an entire show, you can really dig into who she is and what she’s about?
Atwell: That’s it! You’ve had glimpses of who she is from the Captain America films and also the one-shot, but this is a chance to explore her limitations as a human being, and having to go beyond that to save the day, and I think there’s so much in her that’s yet to be shown to the world.
Louis D’Esposito: We’ve only seen Peggy in the other films at work; now we’re going to see her at home, maybe going on a date, maybe with friends, where she lives. Seeing a complete Peggy Carter will be much, much more fulfilling and rewarding, but it’s gotta wear on Peggy Carter, because she’s living a dual existence, not just at work, but at home. She can’t tell her friends, I’m a super-spy and I work for the SSR. It’s a lot of lies she’s telling, I think that goes against her moral compass because for me, Peggy Carter is the female Captain America in that respect, in their strengths. I think it’s going to be a really well-defined dimensional character we’re going to see.
It’ll be interesting to see her in that time period, see what women had to deal with, no matter how capable they were, what history had to make them deal with in that area.
Atwell: I think what’s frightening is how we haven’t come that far. I don’t know about the U.S., but in Britain women still aren’t paid the same amount as men. We really haven’t come that far since the 50s, unfortunately. Maybe culturally, in terms of how we treat each other and how men treat women, but there’s still a long way to go, and so I think that this period is something that men and women can still relate to.
Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus
How’re you enjoying Comic-Con so far?
Chris Markus: Just got here this morning.
McFeely: Headache-y and, you know, but it’s pretty cool.
Markus: I recognize you, I’ve seen you!
McFeely: Yes, how are you? We’ve been here before, but never really to talk too much, we’ve been here and stood next to the movies and said, eh, movies, you know, but this is the first time someone has wanted to hear from us.
How hands on are you going to be on this show that you helped to get off the ground, when you do have another job?
Markus: Oh, lax! Well, we wrote the pilot—first episode, because it’s not really acting as a pilot—and we’re developing the arc of the season with Tara and Michelle and the other writers. And we will try to be on set and participate in as much as possible. There’s a small matter of a gigantic movie that needs to get written, that is being written as we speak—
McFeely: It’s in good hands! But we’re shooting it all in LA, it seems like we’re going to be in LA, Chris and I are based in LA, so we’ll have every opportunity to work ourselves to death.
Given how successful Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s interaction with the Marvel movies, what do you guys want to do on that level, the big tapestry of the cinematic universe and what’s in the comics to draw from?
Markus: What’s great is we had the same bonus with Cap 1 is that we can do anything we want because we don’t have to tie into anything because we come before everything! So we force them to tie into us.
McFeely: But we’ll certainly have easter eggs, and even more than that, one of the characters will be Edwin Jarvis, Howard Stark’s manservant who goes on to be a tutor to Tony and therefore is the inspiration for the AI voice and all that. That’s the kind of interconnectedness that should make people’s ears go, yeah, that’s the reaction that I want.
We’ll be establishing S.H.I.E.L.D. from the characters introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger, how many of those characters will be showing up?
McFeely: You’ll have to talk to their agents. [laughs]
Markus: We’ll make every effort to salt everyone in as story demands, cross your fingers, maybe if we get more than one season…’cause we’d love to move her around the country and around the world at various times. We can even go to Fresno, visit Morita, do whatever move.
McFeely: But it’s always her story. It’s her at different stages of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s over her shoulder, so it’s one woman, trying to figure out her way in a male-dominated system in a time in the world where her skills are not appreciated, she’s come back from war and people said, thanks very much for your contribution, please move to the side. There’s a lot to do there. Like I said on the panel, there’s so much more to do; she’s had like forty minutes of screen-time. And you’ll get that in the first episode.
In the comics, Carter is famous for being one of the first people to have an interracial relationship. Is that going to come up?
Markus: Oh yeah! Gabe Jones! You never do know. Someone else will have to answer that question. [laughs]
Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters
Can you tell me a little bit about how you’re approaching the show and what, if any, spoilers you want to give?
Michele Fazekas: What I will say is, with eight episodes, we did eight episodes of Resurrection the first season, and the way we did Resurrection is sort of how we’re looking at this: like eight parts of a movie. It’s a really nice number to craft a season and make things pay off, make all the things make sense, especially with a continuous storyline, which this will have. And missions that she can complete within a given week. And I really liked how the one-shot sort of set the tone, blends genre, so you’ve got action and you’ve got noir and you’ve got a little bit of sci-fi and humor, I mean, it was funny! And fun! So we’re tonally taking a lot of our cues from the one-shot.
Are you finding any problems considering this is a period piece? Are there blunders, or anything you’re excited to do?
Fazekas: I love it. I’m so happy to not have cell phones. Just creatively, it’s awesome, because when you take away options, taking away what someone can do, it just creates drama. So I love it.
Your pilot writers told us that Edwin Jarvis will be a character. Can you talk about that character and any others that you’re able to say at this point will be part of the recurring or central cast?
Fazekas: I can say that Jarvis is going to work with Peggy, in a way. They’ll be sort of paired up.
Tara Butters: And obviously we’ll be seeing the SSR office and meeting other agents that she’ll be working with. But I think that close connection between her and Jarvis is such a nice dynamic. Though she’s a single lead, it gives her somebody that knows who she is, because so much of her life is hidden.
Fazekas: She can’t tell people that she’s in SSR, and she can’t tell people in SSR that—the dynamic in the one-shot was that she was sort of secretly doing a mission, and there’s a similar dynamic in the show where she’s having to hide what she’s doing from SSR. So she’s lying in all aspects of her life.
Butters: And so Jarvis is an important character for her to have, that she can be real with.
Is he older?
Fazekas: We haven’t cast him yet! So maybe. We’ll find out.
Carter is actually famous for being one of the first interracial couples in comics. Are you planning exploring a similar relationship?
Fazekas: I would say all options are on the table.
Any plans on introducing more female characters?
Fazekas: Yeah! [laughter] I would say in her personal life and in her professional life.
The rules of comic book-type storytelling gives you a lot of latitude. You could potentially do a crossover with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., do time travel or just through connection of history. Are you already talking about those kinds of concepts?
Butters: I think that one of the things Marvel does so well is that there is an inter-connectivity between all their properties. Obviously we’re working with the film side, with S.H.I.E.L.D., and we’ll try to have those easter eggs whenever they make the most sense.
Fazekas: We’ve worked with half the S.H.I.E.L.D. writers, so we know. I worked with [a couple of them] on Dollhouse, and so we’ve talked, oh, it’d be fun to have, even if it’s not a real crossover, easter eggs, the shows speaking to each other. Sure, why not? I think that’d be fun. That’s always something that we’re both open to.