It’s not often that I get a chance to sit down and chat with Marvel big wigs but, on my last trip with Disney and ABC, I did just that. In a private viewing theater, Louis D’Esposito (Co-President of Marvel Studios and Executive Producer movies such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers 2: Age of Ultron) and Jeph Loeb (Marvel’s Head of TV and worked on several major comic book titles) joined our group of bloggers to discuss the new Agent Carter series on ABC.
Agent Carter Interview with Jeph Loeb & Louis D’Esposito
Creating this series presented a unique opportunity.
Louis: This really was a chance for the movie division and the television division to get together and make a show for ABC.
We started our viewing experience with the special film included on the Iron Man 3 home release.
Jeph: The first thing we’ll show you is a short film titled, Agent Carter. It’s a Marvel One-Shot. We call it a one-shot because our comics used to have, called one-shots, self-contained stories. At the studio, we decided that we wanted to give our fans some original content on the DVD to extend that film-going experience at home. We told two shorts about Agent Coulson, one called Item 47 , and All Hail the King with Ben Kingsley.
But why feature Peggy Carter? In Captain America: The First Avenger, she was the love interest of Steve Rogers. We know that he ended up surviving the crash and being thawed out in modern times, thanks to that Super Soldier Serum in him.
Jeph: What happened to Hayley Atwell? We have this wonderful actress in the 1940s. What are we going to do? We have to tell her story. So we decided to go back in time. This short film encapsulates what Hayley Atwell did six months to a year after Captain America’s “death” to when she was named head of S.H.I.E.L.D. In the tv show, she will only work for SSR, which is the precursor for S.H.I.E.L.D. If you had to make an analogy, it’s like the OSS to the CIA. The OSS becomes the CIA and the SSR becomes S.H.I.E.L.D. This was a labor of love. We have a lot of great fun doing these short films over at the studio. We get to test these ideas and have some fun with these 10-12 minute film segments.
If you haven’t seen the Agent Carter Marvel One-Shot yet, you really need to. It’s fantastic! Girl power! So how did this one-shot turn into a series?
From Agent Carter Marvel One-Shot to Agent Carter TV Series
Both Jeph and Louis commented on how they knew they had a “rare commodity with Hayley Atwell” but there’s more. At Marvel, it’s believed that strong heroes have nothing to do with gender, age, or color but that a hero comes from within. When you put someone in an unpleasant place, a hero will rise up.
Jeph: I don’t think there’s a person in this room, male or female, who hasn’t at one point had a job where their boss didn’t life up to their expectations. So the idea of living in a world with a glass ceiling is something that was relevant in 1946 and is in 2015. We had at its very core something we felt an audience would really respond to and a terrific star with a perfect situation that would tie very neatly into what was going on with our friends at Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
So what was it about Agent Carter? Jeph and Louis were so proud of this story that they showed it to other head decision makers, who recognized the same potential in it.
Jeph: Hayley Atwell is a big, big star and someone who’s extremely likable and fun. You can completely empathize with her and feel like this is journey you want to go on with her.
After that, everything just fell into place. Tons of talent excitedly came on board, including the indispensable Hayley Atwell. To appease the fans by avoiding re-runs and filler episodes, it was decided that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D would run in the Fall and Spring while Agent Carter filled the winter-time slot.
Jeph: Why don’t we put in a show that lives and breathes in the same world and that maintains the Marvel audience at 9PM on ABC.
Yay for no more repeats! But are the series related at all?
Jeph: We knew that S.H.I.E.L.D. was going to start the season with Agent Coulson going to have to figure out how to build S.H.I.E.L.D., how to make it again after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So how much fun could it be, after we watch someone in the present trying to figure it out, to go back to the beginning. Back to the beginning to when the first S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Agent Carter of the SSR, has to figure out what it is that is needed and how to get to that place of what S.H.I.E.L.D. will be.
The show creators don’t assume that everyone has seen all the movies. So, the series will begin with a flashback to bring everyone up to speed. (FYI, the contents of the Agent Carter Marvel One-Shot was solely inspiration and is not directly tied to the storyline of television series.)
The clips we saw were a very early version with green screen and temporary music and timing. It was so, so worth the sneak peek though! I can’t give away any spoilers but I will say that this 8-episode run of Agent Carter is looking to be a favorite series of mine. Jeph and Louis did hint to the fact that they like planting little easter eggs as teasers for the cinematic releases so keep on the lookout for those.
Marvel’s Agent Carter Premieres Tonights!
So what is this new series all about?
MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER – “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” starring “Captain America’s” Hayley Atwell, follows the story of Peggy Carter. It’s 1946, and peace has dealt Peggy Carter a serious blow as she finds herself marginalized when the men return home from fighting abroad. Working for the covert SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), Peggy must balance doing administrative work and going on secret missions for Howard Stark all while trying to navigate life as a single woman in America, in the wake of losing the love of her life – Steve Rogers. Inspired by the feature films “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” along with the short “Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter.” (Marvel/Katrin Marchinowski)
Marvel’s Agent Carter premieres tonight for a 2-hour special so don’t forget to tune in! Also, I’ll be sharing photos from our visit the Agent Carter set and highlights from the interview with Hayley Atwell herself so keep and eye out for that next week.
I was invited on an all-expense paid media trip as a guest of Disney and ABC in honor of the Big Hero 6 movie and mentioned sitcom series. All opinions are my own.