Marvel has been dealing with a lot of criticism about how they treat their female characters – especially since the Black Widow debacle in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and while those criticisms are warranted, there are plenty of great examples of female characters in Marvel TV and films.
As Clark Gregg said to Comic Book Resources about the female characters on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D:
“Well, I like the fact that it doesn’t so much identify them in a way that plays into any clichés about what a woman character might be like. They’re professionals who have to kind of weigh the balance between heart and a job. Morality, and kind of a larger picture that makes them have to make very difficult choices. They’re scientists or soldiers, in addition to being people. And then, also, they’re women.”
So in a new feature, we will profile a female Marvel Cinematic Universe character (if we included the comics, we will be here forever) and talk about just what makes them awesome.
And in honor of Agent Carter which is currently on our screens, we’ll start with Cap’s main girl – Peggy Carter, who is portrayed by Hayley Atwell.
Who is Peggy Carter?
Margaret ‘Peggy’ Carter is a member of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) during and after World War II. This is where she meets Steve Rogers, who was then a frail, sickly young man who is fiercely patriotic and determined to become a soldier. While Steve transforms into a super soldier (Captain America), they became friends and eventually fall in love. But because happy endings are for suckers, Steve disappears, assumed dead and Peggy was heartbroken.
Throughout the series Agent Carter, we’ve learnt plenty more about Peggy, about how she was used to pretend to be prince when she was a child, her relationship with her mother, how she chose to be a spy over getting married (and that was just one episode), we have seen her create lasting friendships, form crushes, kick ass. She is truly a multi-layered and interesting character.
Why she rocks?
There are a plethora of amazing female characters in the Marvel universe as we will explore in these features, but the one thing that is original about Peggy Carter is she has no superpowers and she wasn’t trained from young to be a ninja or assassin, she is just Peggy – smart, strong and hella brave.
Peggy lives in a time separate to our other heroines. After World War II when the men returned from the war, they expected the women, who for the first time got a taste of the working world and freedom, to go back to their passive roles as homemakers and submissives. Many women, like Peggy, did not take kindly to that expectation, and it’s interesting to see a Marvel series set in such a time, where the hero is part of the suppressed. A real time in our history and we get to see a character deal with problems that countless women around the world had to deal with and are still dealing with it.
One of the excellent and most progressive aspects of Peggy’s character is that she does not let her limitations define her. She returns from the war, broken-hearted over losing the love of her life, and her colleagues don’t respect her and one of her only friends has been branded a traitor.
She, however, defies all odds, sneaks behind the backs of her officials, and helps Howard, defends the weak, charms everyone around her, saves the day, doesn’t care about receiving the credit, all this while not being afraid to be vulnerable either.
What makes Peggy so adored, is not just the fact that she’s strong but that’s multi-faceted. She’s a well-written, well-rounded women, that females can not only relate to but can aspire to as well. She is tough but also extremely feminine, she stands up for herself, she cries, she laughs, she dresses to kill, she believes in herself. She’s truly a heroine for the modern age.
Where can you see her in action?
Peggy can be seen on Tuesdays at 9pm on ABC in Marvel’s Agent Carter (the Season 2 finale will air on 1 March)
Also see Peggy in Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and in the Agent Carter one shot on the Iron Man 3 DVD.
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Proud POC writer. Lover of books, TV, comics and films. Member of Ravenclaw, sworn fealty to House Martell, and worships at the altar of Peggy Carter.