Superheroes: Peggy Carter’s Erasure

Screenshot of Hayley Atwell in ‘Agent Carter’, Copyright goes to Marvel Entertainment and Disney.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Quite a while ago I made a post about why Steve and Peggy shouldn’t have ended up together at the end of ‘Endgame’. I won’t go too much into that because of my previous post, but I did talk a lot about what this decision might mean for the character of Peggy Carter. My main worry was definitely that it would effectively erase the events of ‘Agent Carter’, which is the most agency Peggy has ever gotten. It was amazing seeing Peggy get her very own story to star in and it was also amazing to see how many issues this show tackled. From sexism to discrimination because of disability. It was also one of the first female-led projects that Marvel ever did. I had a lot of other issues with Peggy and Steve, but that was one of the major ones. My fears that Peggy would be treated poorly were softened a bit when Marvel released the information that they would be proceeding with the character of Captain Carter. An alternative universe where Peggy became the super soldier instead. But it looks like this didn’t quite save Peggy in the way I wished. I’m just going to get right into it!

Legends:

This is where everything happened. On Disney+ there is a Marvel series called ‘Legends’ where each episode focuses on a specific character and basically recaps what happened to them in canon. To everyone’s absolute delight, they recently released the episode for Peggy Carter. But this delight was soon cut short when the episode dedicated to Peggy included no information or even hints towards the content in ‘Agent Carter’. Considering that the past episodes have been pretty descriptive in including all the canonical content for characters; this brought into question whether or not ‘Agent Carter’ was being erased from the main canon by Disney. And for how much Disney has been pushing ‘Agent Carter’ into the background, I wouldn’t be surprised. Though ‘Agent Carter’ is on Disney+, they haven’t advertised it as an addition and barely mentioned it when it was first put on the streaming service. They also have not mentioned ‘Agent Carter’ since the final episode, at least as how it pertains to Peggy.

Time Travel and Alternate Dimensions:

Their excuse for getting rid of Peggy’s arc is completely rooted in time travel. It first featured in ‘Endgame’ which allowed Steve to return to Peggy at the end of the film. Now it’s been used in several other ways, which has also included the possibility of alternate realities. This was discussed in the likes of ‘Doctor Strange’ and ‘Agents of Shield’ before. ‘Agents of Shield’ even paired off their main character, Daisy, at the end of the series with Daniel Sousa, Peggy’s love interest in ‘Agent Carter’, who the crew picked up around the 1950s. ( I will never be ok with their decision to remove his disability.) Now with the addition of ‘WandaVision’ and ‘Loki’ it’s clear that we’ll be dealing with alternate timelines much more than we even saw in ‘Endgame’. But this alternate timeline gives Marvel a lot of freedom, and even more freedom than we probably anticipate. They could re-do franchises like ‘X-Men’ with what they’ve created (Disney has even been in talks with Hugh Jackman over a mystery something). But besides creating new or new-ish things, they also have the power to un-include anything from the current timeline that they want to going forward. So in the interest of keeping Peggy with Steve they could feasibly get rid of ‘Agent Carter’ while explaining that it still exists in some universe. I will admit that the idea of a multiverse scares me, but that’s what exists in the comics and it could open the door to a lot of really great opportunities in the franchise. But I still don’t like this at all when it comes to Peggy.

What ‘Agent Carter’ Offered:

I think everyone knows by now that Peggy was one of the first superhero love interests who turned around and kicked superhero love interest tropes in the teeth. Peggy was influential in that way, and I’m very glad that Marvel hasn’t shied away from that. Even now they’re still using Peggy because of how much people love her and how much people credit her for accomplishing. But we also all deserved to see Peggy being kick-ass without the constant presence of Steve or Howard. And that’s where ‘Agent Carter’ came in. Not only did this give everyone the action that we wanted to see from her, but it also dealt with issues that are far too real that people don’t consider. Like the fact that Peggy was still a woman in that time period and that her involvement with Captain America made it seem like she was being protected or shown favoritism because she was dating a superhero. All of her accomplishments were chalked up to the men in her life because she wasn’t considered to have the ability to do what she did. And ‘Agent Carter’ or not, that still would have happened. Peggy deserved for her own story to be told and for people to stop thinking about her in conjunction with Steve all the time. ‘Agent Carter’ was wonderfully for Peggy only. It let her deal with her own problems. Peggy should not have been required to give up her own story just so that Steve could get the girl in the end. That goes against everything Peggy stood for.

Captain Carter:

Many people say that fans of Peggy shouldn’t be complaining because we’re going to get Peggy with a story of her own. In fact, we’re going to get Peggy with a story where Steve won’t even be the major player. Isn’t that what ‘Agent Carter’ covered? Isn’t that what we wanted anyways? Well, yes and no. Yes, Peggy fans have been begging Marvel for the Captain Carter storyline for ages. And now they’re even talking about the possibility of bringing characters like Captain Carter to the big screen eventually. Can you imagine Hayley Atwell in the uniform and shield? I think I would cry if I saw that in theaters. But the thing is, alternate timeline Peggy does not suddenly make up for the failings in the story of current Peggy. Especially because, as I said, Peggy was, in my eyes, the blueprint for making non-super-powered women in movies badass despite their lack of powers and despite their love interest status. Does that mean I don’t want to see Peggy with powers? Of course not! I definitely want to see that! But this being a great and empowering concept does not make what happened to the original Peggy any less messed up. A new alternate Peggy is not a consolation prize for what they did to the old one. And it also doesn’t erase the fact that Steve kissed his own niece in the current main timeline. Eww.

Going Forward:

I’m going to be really sad saying goodbye to characters like Daniel Sousa and Angie. And, of course, Jarvis is probably the side character that I’ll miss the most. Though I’m glad they gave him a small role in the movies so at least he isn’t entirely erased. But still. This feels unfair to more characters than Peggy. And while Peggy will be moving forward, many of these other characters or adaptations of characters will not. (I am personally really hoping that they will cast James D’Arcy as Jarvis in more films.) Peggy moving forward also will be quite different. From what it looks like, we’ll be leaving the Peggy we know and love with story-erasure at the end of ‘Endgame’ with Steve. The Peggy we will know going forwards is probably not going to be that same Peggy. Trust me, I also wanted to see Peggy with Steve. But the more that’s occurred to me about that decision and the more Marvel tries to do to justify this decision, the more I worry that this was a pretty poor way to leave Peggy Carter. It very much reminds me of Elizabeth Swann being left on the island in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise after having been made Pirate King. All of that badass story just for her end to reduce her to the love interest trope she was fighting against that entire time. Why must this always happen to my favorite fictional female characters?

Anyways, It was probably obvious to long-time readers that I was not going to be pleased with the recent developments involving ‘Legends’. I’m declaring Peggy’s character a giant missed opportunity, just like I did before. But, unlike Elizabeth Swann, at least I’ll get a version of this amazing character that won’t be drowning in that giant mess Disney created. But she just might be drowning in a different giant mess (the multiverse) which still scares me. The only thing I can say right now is, I guess we’ll see what happens.

Update: As I woke up this morning I saw all the controversy around the Captain America Twitter account replacing Sam Wilson with Peggy. While I do believe that this will be temporary, nothing about it is even remotely ok. Peggy is Captain Carter (or Captain Britain) she is NOT Captain America, firstly. Secondly, she doesn’t even exist in the same universe as the other Marvel character specific Twitter accounts. And thirdly, the black man who is now Captain America should not even be hinted at being replaced by a white woman. This is beyond the realm of ridiculous. I already think that Marvel is using Steve too much and is too unwilling to let him go after Sam Wilson rightfully became Captain America. Peggy has been receiving a lot of unwarranted hate for this move that I also do not approve of. But Peggy completely taking over anything Captain America related should not happen. Sam Wilson is Captain America. Peggy is a different character entirely even in the separate universe. Treat them as separate characters, give Peggy the recognition that she deserves without stepping on Sam, and stop using Steve. I swear to you, it isn’t that hard Marvel.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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