10 Things We Learned About Marvel’s Agent Carter, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Daredevil At TCA

ABC/Image Group LA
The Agent Carter TCA Panel

So, I’ve just been hanging out with superheroes this week. After The CW brought the casts of Arrow and The Flash to the Television Critics Association, Marvel had their chance with a panel for Agent Carter. After the panel and stayed for evening cocktails, and members of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stopped by for drinks too. I got to speak with producer Jeph Loeb and actor James D’Arcy (Jarvis on Agent Carter) but had to share Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell and S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Ming-Na Wen with a few of my colleagues.

It’s a big year for Marvel shows. S.H.I.E.L.D. just introduced the Inhumans. Agent Carter is the first female-driven show in the MCU. Daredevil premieres on Netflix in April. After speaking with all the stars of Marvel’s ABC shows and Loeb, who produces all of them, I learned these 10 things about Marvel’s new shows. Spoilers for the most recently aired episodes of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter below.

10. Poor Kyle Bornheimer Never Got to Learn Feminism.

Kyle Bornheimer, notorious for starring in several failed TV shows like Worst Week, Perfect Couples and Family Tools, seemed like no match for Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). He played the most blatantly sexist guy in the Strategic Scientific Reserve, Ray Krzeminski. Clearly, he was going to get his comeuppance and learn to treat women with respect, right? Then he died. What’s the deal?

“It’s something that we talked about from the very beginning,” Loeb said. “I think that Kyle as an actor brought an incredible likability to that role even though he was not a likable character. So what it meant was it was something that we think people found unexpected. If it was, good. If it drives people to come and see a show that they don’t know what’s going to happen next and watch it, then we’ve done our job.”

RIP Ray Krzeminski. But when you get to heaven, don’t ask the angels to get you coffee.

9. May Will Still Train Inhuman Skye.

While Agent Carter is on the air, it’s leaving Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans waiting to see what becomes of Skye (Chloe Bennet) now that she’s revealed to be an Inhuman. According to Ming-Na Wen, May is still going to follow S.H.I.E.L.D. protocol for training Skye.

“It’s her S.O.,” Wen said. “It’s very, very important for May to make sure that she’s teaching her everything she can to make sure that she’s able to be a great agent, but now that she’s an Inhuman, I think that throws a wrench in the whole thing.”

Introducing the Inhumans will open the door for a whole new universe in the rest of the second season of S.H.I.E.L.D.

“The biggest story of all is Skye becoming Inhuman along with the lady in the flowered dress,” Wen said. “So there’s a lot of incredible new story lines that are going to be coming out of it and the whole fight between Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s very complicated and intense.”

Unrelated, but awesome, Wen said she wanted to have a beer with me but couldn’t because she had a fight scene in the morning.

8. That “Previously on Agent Carter” Isn’t Getting Any Shorter.

ABC/Michael Desmond
Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter

The “Previously on Agent Carter” montage that opened this week’s episode seemed noticeably long for week two of a new show. Granted, they were not only recapping last week’s two hour premiere, but the events of Captain America: The First Avenger. I did ask Loeb why it was rather long. Those were my exact words.

“Rather long is a relative term,” Loeb said. “I think it’s probably 30 or 40 seconds. What we try to do is make it so that if for whatever reason you happen to miss it, you have an opportunity in order to catch up and know what’s going on. There’s a little bit of being able to tell people this is what the show is and hopefully you can find an entry point in.”

Maybe I shouldn’t complain. I was watching on DVR so I could’ve just as easily fast forwarded through it. “The reality is that if you watch the show, you’ll catch up to what’s going on. This is part of what comes with any show now, that comes on on a weekly basis. It’s to help the audience.”

7. There Were Multiple American Jarvis Voices.

ABC/Kelsey McNeal
Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Jarvis (James D’Arcy)

One of the best moments for Jarvis in this week’s Agent Carter was when he called in an anonymous tip with his version of an American accent. Now, I’m sure as a British actor, James D’Arcy is capable of doing a fine American accent. And in fact, he did one as an option for editing, but of course they went with the funniest version of the scene.

“I tried different voices,” D’Arcy told me. “We did everything from a very good American accent to a really, really bad American accent. I don’t know which one they used. I feel like we wanted it to be bad but just for safety we did one that was plausibly American.”

Plausibly American? Not bloody likely.

6. The Captain America References Are There Just in Case.

In the Agent Carter pilot, it seemed like there was a Captain America reference in between every commercial break, just in case someone just tuning in didn’t know it was a Captain America show. More or less, that is why there are so many clips of Captain America: The First Avenger or references to his name.

“We have to come from a point of view, just like they do in the movies, that you don’t know any of these characters and that you’ve never seen anything Marvel,” Loeb said. He also knows it’s preposterous that anyone still doesn’t know about Marvel.

“I know there’s only four more people left on the planet that are living like that, but let’s be serious,” Loeb said. “If a year ago you asked the average person on the street there’s a movie where there’s a talking tree and a raccoon that carries a gun, they would look at you as though you’re out of your mind, and those same people are now going three or four times to see that movie. So to me it isn’t a question of how many or how much. It’s a question of how well are those stories being told. If they’re being told well, then people will come.”

5. Howard Stark Is the Beta Version of Tony Stark

No one can top Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark. The actors who’ve played his father haven’t even tried. John Slattery played the older Howard Stark in flashbacks and archival footage, mainly just as the inattentive father. Dominic Cooper gets to flesh out Howard Stark as a younger man, but he really sees it as planting the seeds for what Slattery becomes, and assuming Tony took after his dad.

“It’s fun because I can see what they’re doing with those characters and I have to guess what that would’ve been like in a more conservative world in the ’40s,” Cooper said. “[In Captain America: The First Avenger] I based it on the idea of Howard Hughes and I watched Iron Man and was trying to work out who would be the father of this guy? Who would run a company like that? What kind of man would devote his life to this inventiveness? He’s such a great character. I remember telling everyone about it going, this is guy is a brilliant wonderful ladies man in the ’40s who invents new technology. He’s what we all want to be. It’s kind of cool.”

So Cooper thinks the playboy side of Howard Stark paved the way for Tony, but it’s all a mask. Howard nerds out over Captain America as much as we do. “I often make him very snarky, very confident and very involved with every woman he can possibly get his hands on. I think it’s quite distasteful, quite awful for someone to watch so there has to be a level of softness and a bit of maybe sadness. Hopefully stuff comes out that he actually cares about Captain America and his responsibility to the creation of Captain America.”

4. Ming-Na’s Lingerie Covered More Than Her Silver Dress.

Yes, this is an item about Ming-Na Wen’s underwear. Back in October’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode I Will Face My Enemy, Agent May had a big fight scene in lingerie. It’s always fun to talk to Ming-Na about her panties, and she was still game for it. That silver sequined gown in the same episode was actually in greater danger of a wardrobe malfunction than the scantily clad stuff.

“I was very hesitant to fight in lingerie in the beginning but we picked a really great lingerie to fight in,” Wen said. “The dress actually became more problematic because of the high slit, because of the sequins. The sequins were flying all over the place all the time, and whenever I had to do high kicks I had to be careful not to, you know. It’s ABC. You don’t want to show too much.”

3. What Jarvis Means to the Starks Is Poetic.

When James D’Arcy showed up as Jarvis, I was all, “Oh boy, I know that name. You, sir, are an Easter egg, my friend!” Tony could never perfect D’Arcy’s voice though. The closest he could come was making J.A.R.V.I.S. sound like Paul Bettany. Knowing that human James D’Arcy is the inspiration for Tony Stark’s computer J.A.R.V.I.S. means he must have made a damn big impression on the Stark family. D’Arcy had an awesome perspective on it.

“I think he’s like that Rudyard Kipling poem If,” D’Arcy said, quoting, “‘If you can keep your head when all those about you are losing theirs, then you’re a man, my son.’ I think that’s exactly what Jarvis is able to do.”

As Tony’s papa, Howard Stark, Cooper reflected on the relationship between the Starks and Jarvis too. “Well, because it’s efficient,” Cooper said. “Efficient and useful. Their relationship is brilliant. How that’s been written and developed is just fantastic. My dream is that they go off and have a story together. Imagine the things Jarvis sees Howard get up to. I love that whole idea.”

Of course, Jarvis is important to Agent Carter in his own right. He’s Peggy’s greatest ally, since Strategic Scientific Research doesn’t recognize her value. D’Arcy had his Marvel cred too. “I knew who Jarvis was in the Iron Man movies and then I did a little research and obviously saw that he existed in the comics as well,” D’Arcy said. “But when I saw a picture of him, he doesn’t exist like me. He’s 60 and fat and got a combover, so I knew that they were obviously trying to do something slightly different. Also, in the comic books, The Avengers all live in a big house and he’s their butler, so that obviously isn’t happening.”

2. The Next Episode of Agent Carter Is All About Howard Stark

ABC actually showed us a scene from the next episode of Agent Carter airing on Tuesday, January 27. It’s an argument between Peggy Carter and Howard Stark about Howard’s lies. What exactly he lied about may only be revealed on air, but it was intense. Loeb said he knew what most fans thought Howard’s role in Agent Carter would be. He answered that in this week’s episode so we can be surprised on the 27th.

“I think it’s safe to say that what people expected out of the pilot might have been well, Howard’s gadgets are all spread around so this show is going to be the gadget of the week show,” Loeb said. “After last night’s episode when they recaptured all of them at once, we’re now looking at it going well, now what happens? Now, what has to happen is what was Howard’s real motivation and where is it going to go from here? You’ll see that it takes its own unique turn.”

Cooper enjoyed revealing more about Howard too. “It’s a big one in that you learn more about him,” Cooper said. “You learn more about what’s behind his motivations, what he does and what he feels about himself and what a lot of people feel about him. I think it’s very revealing. What I love about it, admittedly there’s often only glimpses of him but each time you do learn a little more about him and he is quite a complex guy. He’s awful on the one hand. He’s so smarmy and such a ladies man, there’s a certain amount of charm you hope is getting across where you kind of forgive him. I think his love and devotion to Peggy sort of makes you feel less annoyance I suppose.”

1. Marvel Doesn’t Schedule the Shows.

Okay, I know this may seem like a thin item to rank as the number one thing I learned, but let me give you some context. Jeph Loeb will not talk about the Netflix shows when he’s promoting the ABC shows. During the TCA panel, one brave reporter kept trying to get him to talk about Daredevil and Loeb’s response was, “I think we should probably stay present with the show today.”

So I’m pretty proud of myself for getting Loeb to address the Netflix shows at all today. In their TCA presentation, Netflix executive Ted Sarandos suggested a plan to space the four Marvel shows out from 8 to 12 months. So after Daredevil in April, it might not be until 2016 that we see the next Marvel show on Netflix. I asked Loeb about the scheduling and, while he supports it, it turns out this is the network plan, not the Marvel plan.

“We just try to tell the best stories that we can and leave programming to the networks and what they do best,” Loeb said. “All I can say is it’s been a great experience all the way around with everybody, and I think that come April 10 and people see the first Marvel Netflix show, Daredevil, they’re going to be incredibly impressed by what happens and enjoy it quite a bit.”

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