Agent Carter (film)
File:Agent Carter One-Shot poster.jpg|
Home media release poster
|Directed by||Louis D'Esposito|
|Produced by||Kevin Feige|
|Screenplay by||Eric Pearson|
Peggy Carter |
by Stan Lee
|Music by||Christopher Lennertz|
|Edited by||Peter S. Elliot|
Walt Disney Studios|
Agent Carter is a 2013 American direct-to-video short film featuring the Marvel Comics character Peggy Carter, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on the home media release of Iron Man 3. It is a follow up and spin-off of the 2011 feature film Captain America: The First Avenger, and is the fourth film in the Marvel One-Shots short film series. The film is directed by Louis D'Esposito, with a screenplay by Eric Pearson, and is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. It stars Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter, reprising the role from the films, along with Bradley Whitford and Dominic Cooper, the latter also reprising his role from the films. In Agent Carter, Peggy Carter faces sexism post-World War II while working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (S.S.R.), a precursor to the fictional organization S.H.I.E.L.D.
A Marvel One-Shot featuring Peggy Carter was in the works for some time before Atwell signed on to star in it. D'Esposito, co-president of Marvel Studios and an executive producer on the feature films, aimed to replicate the period setting of Captain America: The First Avenger, while also giving the short a more modern, superhero feel. The film was a more ambitious production than previous One-Shots, with more action scenes and visual effects required than previously. Several other characters from Marvel Cinematic Universe films also appear. The short was received positively by fans and critics alike, which led to ABC ordering a television series expansion, Marvel's Agent Carter, which began airing in January 2015.
One year after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, Agent Peggy Carter is now a member of the Strategic Scientific Reserve, and faces sexism from her boss, Agent John Flynn, who treats her condescendingly, and keeps her compiling data and code breaking while assigning field cases to the male agents only. The S.S.R.'s main concern is the mysterious Zodiac, which they have been unable to recover for some time.
One night alone in the office while the men are out together, the case line rings, informing Carter of the location of the Zodiac. Though three to five agents are recommended, Carter decides to go to the location herself. Fighting off multiple guards, Carter is able to retrieve the Zodiac, a mysterious serum, herself. The next day, Flynn reprimands her for not going through the proper procedures to complete the mission, and dismisses the indignant Carter as just an "old flame" of Captain America's who was given her current job out of pity for her bereavement. However, before he can officially punish her, the case line rings again, this time with Howard Stark on the other end, who informs Flynn that Carter will co-head the newly created S.H.I.E.L.D.
- An S.S.R. agent forced to work in data analysis and code breaking since the end of World War II, Carter reprises her role from Captain America: The First Avenger. On the character starring in her own short film, D'Esposito said that Marvel always wanted to do a Peggy Carter short. We all knew Peggy Carter, because of the portrayal of Hayley Atwell, was a fan-favorite and a Marvel Studios favorite. She’s always been forefront for us. ... We adlibbed it on the day, but I particularly liked when Peggy looks into her compact at a bad guy. She’s using it as a periscope device, then she takes a moment and looks at herself. I think that’s the essence of what she’s about and what the film’s about. Not only is she – especially in that time – a woman in a man’s world, she still maintains her femininity, and I think that’s what’s cool about her."
- The co-head and founder of S.H.I.E.L.D., Cooper reprises his role from Captain America: The First Avenger. In the short, as an easter egg, Stark is seen wearing the same robe that his son Tony wore in Iron Man 2.
Neal McDonough reprises his role of Timothy "Dum Dum" Dugan from previous MCU films, and Chris Evans appears as Steve Rogers / Captain America via archive footage from The First Avenger. Shane Black, director and co-writer of Iron Man 3, voices the "Disembodied Voice", the caller on the other end of the case line.
In August 2011, Marvel announced that a couple of short films, designed to be self-contained stories, would be released direct-to-video. Co-producer Brad Winderbaum said "It's a fun way to experiment with new characters and ideas, but more importantly it's a way for us to expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe and tell stories that live outside the plot of our features."
One of the ideas developed as a potential One-Shot was a spin-off from Captain America: The First Avenger, following the story of Peggy Carter after the events of that film. Marvel Studios co-president Louis D'Esposito, who directed the previous One-Shot, Item 47, returned as director, while writer Eric Pearson also returned from the previous One-Shots. D'Esposito explained that it was decided to release the film along with Iron Man 3 in 2013 because Marvel "had been developing it, and we had an Agent Carter script — I don’t remember if Hayley was not available at that time or if complications in that way… When we started talking about what short we’d do next, we were throwing around ideas and we said, 'Let’s see if Hayley is available now. Can she do it?' And so, we pulled it out of our pile and we sent it to her and it just so happened that she was available. And that has a lot to do with it sometimes too, people’s availability. You know, because they lead very busy lives, our actors, and scheduling is sometimes a nightmare."
Elaborating on Atwell's agreeing to join the project, D'Esposito said "She had seen Item 47 and liked it very much. She had read the script that we had developed, and she really loves the character, so she was on board. She also liked the fact that she got to show off some of her skill sets, that weren’t shown in the previous film. And we got to see her fight. I think everybody has a little bit of an action hero in them and wants to show it off. So, with that combination, she said yes." On Atwell's preparation for the short, D'Esposito revealed that "When she first got here, there were wardrobe fittings and things like that, but she worked for three days with the stunt team. We had already pre-choreographed the fights and showed them to her, and she came in and started rehearsing. Brad and I would go at the end of every day to see her, and it just kept getting better and better and better."
The short was filmed over five days. On how the shooting style of the short compared to that of Captain America: The First Avenger, D'Esposito said "I loved the way [Joe Johnston] shot Captain America — it was absolutely beautiful — but I was going to do it a little bit differently. I wasn’t going to go towards the sepia tone; I was going to keep it a cooler blue to differentiate it a little bit, but the style of the shoot is maybe more classic than Item 47. It was a conscious decision to do that, to keep it a cooler look. We used special lenses, we used two lenses: special lenses for night, special lenses for day. They were older lenses, uncoated, the flares are a little better and have a different quality, and I think the coolness of it modernized it a little bit to where you’re consciously not saying, "Well, it’s obviously set in period but it has a modern feel to it.""
On the action in the short, D'Esposito said "what we did was, we choreographed the action with Hayley in mind, obviously, she’s the lead, and I just wanted the film to have a lot of energy. I didn’t want it handheld, so for most of these, we used the Steadicam or a dolly. It was all very planned out. What I did was videotape the fights, and sat down with our cinematographer and I did not make a conscious effort to look, I did not say, 'Let me look at that fight, let me look at that fight.' I wanted it to be very organic and didn’t want it to be too influenced, even though everything you watch has an influence. So we took a fresh approach to it. I’ve seen a lot of compliments about that, about the film work, that it was energetic yet you could still see the fight and that it wasn’t too quick cutty or blurry or shaky. I think that was our conscious choice, in terms of our action."
Because of the limited time and budget for the short, compared to a feature film, D'Esposito said "we were always pushing our limit. I know I wasn’t going to get every shot and I wasn’t going to get every punch and kick, so what we do is get the optimum — this is the fight — I lay it out and I know before we start shooting that I can live without this shot or I could live without that shot. Our cinematographer, Gabriel Beristain, is adept at using two cameras when we had to, and that’s always helpful; we had a great Steadicam operator so it’s very laid out, everybody knows what they’re doing, they see the fight in advance, I show them the shots. It makes it a lot easier when we get there on the day to say, “This is what we have to accomplish.” If you’re making it up as you’re going, which sometimes is great, it just requires time."
The mid-credits scene with Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan, which originally took place in a pool, had to be changed on set because the muscle suit McDonough wears to portray the character could not be in water; the scene ended up taking place beside the pool.
Visual effects shots of 1940s New York from Captain America: The First Avenger were reused in the short to save money. In early 2013, Marvel approached visual effects company Perception, who they had worked with before, to create the main-on-end title sequence for the short. Visual effects supervisor Sheena Duggal was told to retell the story of the short in 90 seconds, so she decided to use stylized versions of imagery from the period and the short itself. Though a mixture of 2D and 3D animation was used, it was all made to look 2D, and though the sequence was made to flow with the backing music, every name required the same amount of time onscreen.
Composer Christopher Lennertz, who previously collaborated with D'Esposito on the One-Shot Item 47, composed the music for Agent Carter. Like the rest of the short, D'Esposito wanted the music to reflect the period setting, but to have a modern feel to it as well, so he "sent them over Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man", even though it was in the 60's, and I said I wanted this kind of feel, this kind of sentiment to it. [Lennertz] said, 'I understand, I get it.' I think he did a terrific job getting that and reaching that and even though it might not be pure 1940s, it has a period feel to it, and yet it has a James Bond secret agent sentiment to it too."
Agent Carter was first shown in full at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con International. It was then released along with the Iron Man 3 home media, first on September 3, 2013 in digital download form, and then on Blu-ray disc, 3D Blu-ray, DVD, digital copy and on demand on September 24, 2013. D'Esposito said that it was decided to release the short along with Iron Man 3 because "the time was right", with the Iron Man 3 home media being released before the opening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier in theaters.
Rosie Fletcher of Total Film noted that the short was well received by the audience at Comic Con, and said that "Atwell makes a perfect femme fatale-cum-special agent, and this '40s noir-style short looks great and packs some euphoric action moments". Andy Hunsaker of Crave Online gave the short a score of 8.5 out of 10, saying, "Agent Carter is a fun treat which could lead the way for some female-led Marvel films and, if nothing else, it gives its title character the send-off she deserves." Scott Collura of IGN said, "Atwell's Carter is the big-screen female superhero we've all been waiting for. She kicks so much ass in this short story with such aplomb, using not just brawn but also brains, and it's all very clever and fun. And even while Agent Carter plays like a proof-of-concept that, yes, women heroes can work in these kinds of projects too, Atwell never loses touch with her feminine side".
Colin of Movie Ramblings said that "With a short, sharp and witty script mixed with some equally sharp action, under the direction of Louis D’Esposito, this could be the best Marvel One-Shot yet. Rumour has it that Marvel and ABC are in the process of developing a TV series dedicated to Captain America’s former flame. If that is true, the we should all be in for a treat, as not only did this 15 minute short have me grinning from ear to ear from start to finish, it left me wanting more." Flickering Myth called the short "a great effort. A nice, compact story that gives us a lot of great moments with the character. Her office nemesis [Flynn] makes for a great foil. Their abrasive song and dance is well scripted and well acted. Flynn is the type of blowhard, boys club boss that begs to be deflated. And of course, like all Marvel films there’s some great cameos and a post credit scene that should put a smile on everybody’s face. ... Agent Carter is another great Marvel offering that shows how committed they are to the idea of an expanded universe where these great characters get time to shine. I suppose the best compliment I can pay the film is that I wish there was more of it."
Marvel's Agent Carter, a television series inspired by the short film and also starring Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, was officially ordered by ABC on May 18, 2014, and began a run of eight episodes on January 6, 2015. Dominic Cooper also reprised his role as Howard Stark in the series, while Louis D'Esposito directed the first episode, and Christopher Lennertz returned to compose the music. The series was created by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, writers on the Captain America films, with Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, and Chris Dingess serving as showrunners. The series takes place in the middle of the short, before Carter learns that she will be co-head of S.H.I.E.L.D., where she assists Stark in finding who framed him for supplying deadly weapons, and destroying the weapons.
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