In the past month I've watched four Marvel films for the first time, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011), CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014), IRON MAN (2008), and IRON MAN 2 (2010).
For those who, like me, are new to the Marvel films, Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) served with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), aka Captain America, during WWII.
In CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER Steve's plane went missing while he was in the midst of saving the world (or at least a big chunk of it) and he was presumed dead. By the time the "frozen in time" Steve awoke several decades later, as seen in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, Peggy was an elderly lady.
Peggy's old friend, inventor and weapons manufacturer Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), is accused of selling weapons to the enemy. He secretly approaches Peggy to get her help to clear his name; Howard then disappears but leaves behind his trusted butler Jarvis (James D'Arcy) to serve as her aide and comrade in arms. Things get deadly almost immediately.
I was quite impressed with the initial episodes. Atwell and D'Arcy are simply terrific; it's fun listening to their banter -- in clipped British accents -- as their friendship develops. Their relationship is strictly platonic, as Jarvis is devoted to an unseen wife named Anna.
Incidentally, it's curious to note that Howard's son Tony has a robot butler in the IRON MAN films...who is also named Jarvis (voiced by Paul Bettany).
One of the things I really appreciate about AGENT CARTER and the Marvel movies is they feature strong female characters who can kill at a moment's notice while remaining beautiful and feminine. Atwell is a real find as Peggy, who is afraid to let anyone get close, as people she cares about have a way of being killed. I'd love to know more of her back story but you certainly don't need it to enjoy Atwell as a woman trying to make it in a "man's business," the spy game in the '40s.
D'Arcy is likewise wonderful, seemingly mild-mannered and proper yet always there in the clutch. I'm intrigued by his references to his wife and would love to know more.
After talking with other classic film fans who also like the Marvel films and TV series, I think some of the appeal for viewers such as myself is that some of the entries (CAPTAIN AMERICA and AGENT CARTER) have "retro" settings; all of the films also emphasize old-fashioned values such as service to country and mankind, self-sacrifice, and good determined to triumph over evil.
Based on feedback from many other viewers, I expect that I'll be enjoying AGENT CARTER all the way to the end of the series, and I'm looking forward to Season 2, which will find Peggy and Jarvis in late '40s Hollywood.
Meanwhile, I learned today about the existence of Marvel short films. At the end of IRON MAN 2 Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) left for a new assignment in New Mexico. He had an adventure along the way, as seen in a brief short on YouTube.
I anticipate watching THOR (2011), THE AVENGERS (2012), and ANT-MAN (2015) in the near future!
Update: Thanks to Michael Kuzmanovski on Twitter for alerting me that AGENT CARTER will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 18, 2015. The DVD and Blu-ray editions are both listed as "Amazon Exclusive" on the Amazon site.