Agent Carter and the Power of Fandom

A few weeks ago, Besame Cosmetics launched their long-anticipated Agent Carter: 1946 Collection. They’ve been hinting at this collection for nearly a year and over the last nine months, Besame dropped some awesome puzzles to keep fans guessing about their product. The launch was a smashing success, with their Field Agent Lip Kit selling out online before the entire collection became available. 

Agent Carter: The 1946 Collection in its glory

Besame filmed a reveal (you can view it below) and even had a booth at the 2018 Spring Dapper Day Expo at the Disneyland Hotel, replete with an Agent Carter: 1946 Collection motif, including a truly awesome photo booth that was made to look like Agent Peggy Carter’s desk at the SSR.

Besame Cosmetics boasts many Peggy fans amongst their ranks and they saw her character as the perfect way to draw Marvel into the luxury cosmetics world. Right after the release of the Agent Carter: 1946 Collection, Besame launched some gorgeous Avengers: Infinity War lip glosses and eyeshadows. Don’t get me wrong, the Infinity War glosses and eyeshadows are beautiful, and I will probably get them, but using Agent Carter as the vehicle to launch this new relationship between Besame and Marvel is of greater significance. 

Avengers is a billion-dollar movie franchise while Agent Carter is a television show that was canceled more than two years ago. It was loved by critics and fans alike but suffered mediocre ratings due to being on a network that really didn’t understand or cultivate what it had — and instead chose to cancel the vintage drama to stick its star, Hayley Atwell, in a lackluster crime drama. Yay! *sarcasm* Unsurprisingly, Conviction was canceled after only one season. 

Agent Carter fans (including yours truly sitting at the desk) with Agent Carter‘s costume designer Gigi Melton

Counter to that, Agent Carter seems to be building steam and the fandom is thriving. The Agent Carter: 1946 Collection is not the only offering, or even most recent offering, to Peggy fans this year. Peggy Carter, with Hayley Atwell’s physical likeness and English accent, recently made her appearance in the Exiles comic. This alternate reality version of Peggy has her as Captain Carter, a version of Captain America that was introduced in the Marvel Puzzle Quest game a few years ago. Also, later this spring, Upper Deck is set to release an E-Pack set based on Agent Carter, with autograph cards and sketch cards. While Peggy Carter currently lacks a television show, her merchandising appearances definitely seem to be on the rise. 

As much as I love Agent Carter, and Peggy Carter herself, I often ponder why the Agent Carter fandom is thriving and why there are more fans of her than ever. I think the answer is due in part to the character herself and the current climate of the world we live in. Peggy Carter’s portrayal in the MCU (the Captain America franchise and the Agent Carter series) is one of a woman who comes into her own strengths and abilities (regular human abilities, I must stress) during World War 2, an adverse time for humanity. Currently, the global climate is fraught with tension and a dam is breaking as people in America have gotten fed up with the way women have been treated, cascading into the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Peggy Carter acts as an impetus for fans and is part of the zeitgeist we all exist in now. Ask any fan of Peggy Carter and they’ll share with you a story about how they found strength in their lives thanks to her.

Courtesy of ABC Studios

For many fans, the moment that stands out most to them in season one of Agent Carter is Peggy’s self-affirming speech: “I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.” For me, the scene that changed my life is where Peggy says goodbye to Captain America by dumping the remnants of Steve Rogers’s blood into the East River. She only speaks three words, but three powerful words: “Goodbye, my darling.” There is this sense of closure and yet a sense of beginning a new chapter in her life. I had been in deep mourning after losing my parents in 2010 and 2013. In 2015, I watched Peggy say goodbye to Steve and I could relate. The loss of my parents did not mean the end of my own life, but it took some prompting from Peggy Carter — having just watched how she dealt with the loss of Steve in the year following — for me to see this.

A few months after viewing the season one finale, I found myself meeting Hayley Atwell at San Diego Comic Con as a matter of happenstance (right place, right time I like to say) and expressed to her the significance of Peggy’s journey to my own. At that moment, I realized I had made a shift in my own life and new opportunities were in store for me (including this extraordinary chance meeting). Many of us fans have found strength from Peggy Carter and her friends — sometimes in ways we are aware of and sometimes in ways we are not. Peggy Carter is the heroine we deserve and can even embody in our own lives. She needs no special abilities to achieve extraordinary things.

Jennifer Redelle Carey, AKA The Flamingo Girl. I got this moniker due to Agent Carter but that is a story for another day.

On reflection of the choices I have made and the daring risks I have taken over the last three years, I can absolutely say I might not have made those decisions if not for Peggy Carter. I have become more of my highest self because of this remarkable character. The great thing is that any one of us can be like Peggy. She’s an average human being facing down incredible odds in extraordinary circumstances, which makes her quite intriguing and an inspiring force in our real-world lives. Given how much Peggy Carter has influenced my life, I feel charged with a responsibility to share her story and my story with the world.

Do you have a story where Peggy Carter has affected your life? We would love if you shared it in the comments below. And if you haven’t watched Agent Carter you can still catch it on ABC online and Hulu

A special thank you to Besame Cosmetics for inviting me to attend the Agent Carter: 1946 Collection after-party and for allowing me to host a meetup at their booth.

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