5 Ways Agent Carter Matches Up to Indiana Jones (And 5 Ways It’s Better)

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In honor of the Agent Carter Season 2 finale, let’s see how Peggy matches up to the legendary Indiana Jones. Can this modern action series stand up to a classic?

HOW THEY MATCH UP

Action/Adventure

Probably the easiest similarity to spot about these two is the genre. Indiana Jones and Agent Carter both center around a typical action-adventure concept: keep the powerful object out of the wrong hands. They also pack in quite a lot of exciting, well-executed action fare: car chases, explosions, air fights, gun fights, fist fights, the whole shebang, without going too much for the gore factor, which makes them such crowd pleasers.

Brains and Brawn

Indy and Peggy are both action stars, so of course they know how to give a beat down. They may not have gracefully lethal moves like a lot of modern action fare, but they know how to throw their weight (and others’  weight) around, and use anything at their disposal. At the same time, however, they are both noted for their intelligence, which is crucial in the field. Indy has a doctorate after all, and can figure out a historically-based clue without much trouble. And Peggy, even before getting trained as a spy, was a skilled code breaker for the Allies.  They’re also adept at disguising themselves while on a mission, which takes good thinking on the fly (Though Indy’s Scottish accent could use some work).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiZ8D9akdV4

Double Lives

It could be said that Indy and Peggy are so good at disguises because they basically disguise themselves in everyday life. Both are multifaceted characters in that their world sees one side of them, while the audience and trusted team members see another side.

After witnessing the man navigate dangerous booby traps in an ancient temple to steal a golden idol, Indy’s civilian identity of Dr. Henry Jones Jr., a boring (but attractive), bespectacled professor at Princeton, is intended to come as a surprise to the audience. But the moment he dons the fedora, leather jacket, and whip, he’s a completely different person.

Peggy, as introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger, is a tough-as-nails SSR agent who shines in the heat of battle during World War II. So upon picking up the series in New York after the war is over, it is disheartening to see her pretend to the world to be a telephone operator, and reduced to secretary within the SSR itself because she is a woman.

Watching both characters play with these double lives is a part of what makes them memorable, and makes those characters who see them as they really are all the more valuable.

Period Pieces

Part of the intrigue of Indiana Jones and Agent Carter is that they are set in a specific time frame. The original three Indiana Jones films take place in the years leading up to World War II, while Agent Carter takes place soon after the war. Not only does it give both a similar aesthetic in terms of costumes and tech which appeals to the nostalgia factor, but also allows them to deal with the worldwide effects of this huge event in world history, whether by preventing threats or dealing with the aftermath.

Humor

I love a good one-liner, and Indiana Jones and Agent Carter both have tons of them! Personal favorites:

 

  • Indiana Jones: “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?” (Raiders)
  • Indiana: Do we need a monkey?
    Marion: I’m surprised at you. Talking that way about our baby. He’s got your looks, too.
    Indiana: And your brains.
  • Henry Jones: [accidentally shoots their own plane with the machine gun]
    Indiana Jones: Dad, are we hit?”
    Henry Jones: “More or less. Son, I’m sorry… They got us.” (Last Crusade)
  • Peggy Carter: [Cuffed to the table in the interrogation room] Mr. Jarvis, how would you feel if we smashed that mirror with this table?
    Edwin Jarvis: I would feel splendid about it.
  • Daniel: This is a bad plan.
    Jarvis: It’s a horrible plan.
    Peggy: It’s a solid plan.
  • Peggy: How are you now?
    Sousa: I still want to kill Thompson, but no more than usual.
  • Mr Jones: I didn’t know our government had such good taste in secretaries. What’s your name darling?
    Peggy: [deadpan] Agent.

HOW AGENT CARTER IS BETTER
Strong Nuanced Characters (and Hey, Look, There Are Women!)

Agent Carter, as a TV series, already allows more room for character depth than Indiana Jones. Not that Indiana Jones doesn’t have some great character development – just compare Indy in Raiders to Indy in Last Crusade, plus all the father-son stuff in the latter.

But even accounting for length of time, the characters of Agent Carter are just so striking, breaking boundaries on many levels. Of course, a big selling point for this series is the women. I’ll be addressing Peggy herself later, but let’s look at some f the other women in this series:

  • Dottie Underwood, who seems like a sweet girl, but is not as guileless as she appears.
  • Ana Jarvis, a Hungarian Jew living in America who totally gets the need for a gun holster under one’s skirt
  • Rose, who may wear glasses and floral patterns, but can bring the heat just as well as Peggy
  • Whitney Frost – delicate starlet? Not so much. When her facade cracks, it cracks horrifically, and makes for a truly fascinating antagonist.

While Indiana had some strong female costars, Agent Carter deserves extra props for the strong female representation. But the male characters get some great diversity and development too:

  • Daniel Sousa, a handicapped vet who starts the series as just a nice guy, but proves his keen intellect and ability to lead, an equal with Peggy in the field. His injury does not define him, but it causes him to find creative solutions and value those he trusts.
  •  Jack Thompson may seem like just another misogynist jerk. To a degree, he is. But it is so, so hard to figure out whose side he’s on or what he ‘s going to do next. And thankfully, he is never set up as love interest to Peggy
  • Jason Wilkes was an ordinary physicist (albeit one used to being looked down upon), until put in a unique position that endangered his life. This conflict gives him a chance to really show his smarts, but also pushes him to the point of desperation, causing him to make choices that make him neither villain nor victim.

Actually managed to pull off Sci-Fi in a cool and intelligent way

Remember when Indiana Jones attempted to tackle sci-fi elements?

Did you want to remember?

After three films focusing on supernatural elements, Indy 4 tried to pay homage to 50s sci-fi with a story of crystal skulls and aliens. And honestly, I think it could have worked. But the film didn’t quite manage to pull off the concept convincingly. Agent Carter, on the other hand, deals with sci-fi level crazy on weekly basis. Of course, maybe it’s the lack of aliens, maybe it’s the already established connection with the pseudo science of the Marvelverse. But let me put it this way:

When Indy handled a nuclear test, it went for the expected: Indy hides in a refrigerator and survives (despite that the fridge probably should have been flattened). It is then quickly forgotten as Indy goes on his way.

But when Agent Carter handled a nuclear test in Season 2, it went for the unexpected: instead of exploding mushroom-cloud style, the bomb implodes and produces an alien substance dubbed zero matter, capable of swallowing anything in its wake. This substance becomes the heart of the rest of the season, and the implications of it are almost more devastating than a nuclear bomb! Hard to beat that.
Marvel-Ish

Related to the above, Peggy, having come from Captain America: The First Avenger along with Howard Stark (Iron Man’s father), has ties to the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. It thus gets to play with some cool comic book elements. Again, it’s not as if Indiana Jones wasn’t known for things beyond the norm, and some would say the deeper connection to mythology made the Indy films more epic. But there’s a particular reason people love Marvel movies, and Agent Carter captures quite a bit of it. What other show set in the 1940s gets to play with stuff like miniature implosion bombs, emotion manipulating gas, and zero matter without blinking an eye? It also gets to hint at future developments in the Marvelverse, but since it takes place before the majority of those events, you don’t have to see every single Marvel movie to understand what’s going on, and the show can go on its own tangents, to a certain extent.
All the Feels

While Indiana Jones had some great emotional moments (particularly, for me, between father and son in Last Crusade), for the most part these were fast-paced, action-packed films with little time to get really emotional. Plus, nobody wanted to shatter the idea of Indiana Jones being a super tough guy by having him get too moved by emotions, and it works for Indy.
But Agent Carter is more comfortable with emotionally devastating its audience by giving the characters some truly gut-wrenching scenes. It isn’t that Peggy or her colleagues are any more apt to show emotion than Indy. But they are allowed to go to some deep, dark places emotionally —  when these characters are honest, or angry, or sad, they are brutally so.
Peggy Herself

Just… I mean … look at her!

I’m not saying Margaret Carter is better than Dr. Henry Jones Jr. as a character. I love them both, and Indy is such an icon.

But Peggy is a force in her own right, and the show deserves to be viewed for that alone.

She is tough, yet she is gentle. She is brave and knows her value. She is kind and sticks up for others. She knows how to manipulate emotion within the field, but has trouble dealing with her own in real life. She has high standards, but for no one more than herself. And she kicks serious butt. In heels! She’s a complex lady with flaws and fortitude , and she deserves to have her greatness witnesses more!

Peggy deserves to be as iconic as Indiana. Let’s give her a shot at doing so and rally for another season!

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What to Marathon When You’re Stuck Inside: 2016 Edition!

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Snowed in this weekend? Sick with whatever’s going around school/the office? Just received one of those miraculous days where you have nothing to do and nowhere to be? Unless you have a great book to curl up with (or, y’know, homework), sounds like you need something to marathon!  Read more

5 Things I Wish to See From Cinderella – REACTION

After Friday’s post, listing my expectations for the new Cinderella film, I actually went to see the movie on Sunday with my mom. As I said last time, Cinderella is my mom’s favorite animated Disney movie, so  perfect mother-daughter movie for us to see!
 
So how did things go? Well, let me preface to say this: it takes quite a bit for a movie to make me cry (though I find it gets easier and easier as time goes on). It has to hit a certain emotional spot. Even the last Harry Potter didn’t make me full out cry (though I did dry sob when I saw Lupin and Tonks).
 
Guys, I cried during Cinderella not once but twice. And the second time they were tears of joy, if you can believe that, right at the end. It was just so satisfying and validating and beautiful that I got really moved.
 
But for all this sappy emotion, you’re all wondering: did it meet my prior expectations?
 
 
(SPOILERS AHEAD!!)
 

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5 Things I Wish to See From Disney’s Live Action Cinderella

You know, there’s a lyric in “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” that I’m surprised doesn’t get more attention.

While we could chalk it up to needing a word that rhymed with “believing,” to say her heart is “grieving” still seems a strong choice of words for Cinderella. But I think this says a lot more about her character and her story, than any of the pretty, sparkly, shallow merchandise can.

In the original animated film, Cinderella’s father dies when she’s very young, but old enough to remember him and be affected by his death. Instead of getting love and support from family members in the wake of all this, her stepmother takes control and turns Cinderella into a servant in her own household. Because this is all narrated at the very beginning of the film, we don’t get a strong idea of just how hurt she was when all this happened. But that doesn’t mean the pain isn’t there. While she is strong enough to keep her head up high in the face of her daily servitude, every now and then, her fears, her grief, and her frustration overcome her. But she has to keep it as contained as possible, because if she doesn’t her stepmother will only make things worse, even throw her out, with nowhere to go.

This is a girl with a lot of heart and courage. Perhaps I’m biased since Cinderella is my mom’s favorite Disney heroine, but I have a lot of respect for Cinderella as a character. But because she was in an animated film in 1950 with a very short running time, a lot of her story was diverted towards the comedy – the mice, the dated blowhard of a king, the put-upon duke. And that was fine for that time and type of film. But as times have changed, people have defined Cinderella by the shallowest details of her story.

But tonight, with the opening of Cinderella (2015), this beloved Disney character gets another chance to prove her worth, beyond the merchandising, beyond her original film. I was wary of this film when I first heard about it, mostly because I was coming off the heels of Maleficent – which, while elements of it worked very well, would have worked better if it wasn’t so deeply associated with an iconic Disney film. But where Maleficent twisted Sleeping Beauty around, Cinderella seems to be truly honoring the original while giving her and her story the depth it deserves – but will it truly go the distance?

They say “a dream is a wish your heart makes,” so here are my dreams for this epic film to fulfill:

1. Confronting the Stepmother (literally and symbolically)

Rags and riches are a huge part of this story, but it isn’t just about the transition from one to the other. The stepmother loves to hold Cinderella’s poverty and dependence over her head. She’s all about pretending to give Cinderella a fighting chance, while placing every obstacle imaginable in her way. In this way, she attempts to make Cinderella feel worthless, to ultimately give in to despair. Cinderella unfortunately never gets to directly confront the stepmother in the original – though I’m sure she got a real kick of pleasure from her stepmother’s face when she pulled out that other slipper. But we see from the trailers hints of a real confrontation scene in the new version, which I hope will be satisfying.

But I don’t want this just for the drama. Because by confronting the stepmother, she has to also confront how the prince and how society might view her if she takes her chance at happiness. Even now, there’s still a lot heaped on those who have fewer opportunities, especially women. That they are somehow less, even when they are kind and caring and intelligent hard workers. But Cinderella, by confronting this and still choosing to go for her dreams, would be making a mature decision to assert her right to dream, to attend the ball, to face the prince, even if the worst should happen. And to show the prince, confronted with the truth, choose to stand by her side proudly. Instead of dreamily glancing over the issues, I hope the film acknowledge the prejudices associated with rags and riches, and ultimately show that they are wrong and do not matter.

2. Make it clear why she had to stay in her stepmother’s care – and maybe the early days of that life.

Even with a potential confrontation, people may fault Cinderella for not fighting back sooner.

Said people forget about women’s history.

Because for all she went through under her stepmother’s roof, had she stepped out of line it could have been so much worse. In the original film, when an innocent mistake of Cinderella’s was mistaken as purposeful insolence, her workload was doubled. What would happen if she actually stepped out of line?

Possibly, she would have been kicked out of her own home. Think Miss Honey from Matilda without an education. Or worse yet, think of another poor French woman – Fantine from Les Miserables. Forced into prostitution, she took ill and died.

But just because she was forced to take her step family’s behavior, and decided to take it with a smile just to spite them, doesn’t mean it was always that way. Perhaps the film will give an opportunity to see her early days under her stepmother’s thumb and being willful, leading to serious consequences (so more along the lines of Jane Eyre).

3. Show her spirit!

She calls the clock an old killjoy. She scolds Lucifer and Bruno when they’ve been bad. When given the chance to go to the ball, her lack of wealth, of even a dress, does not dissuade Cinderella from trying to take the rare opportunity for freedom (not love, note). She sticks her chin in the air in front of the woman who can hurt her the most, and proclaims her right, by royal decree, to go to the ball. Basically, all of this and more please!

4. Have the fairy godmother’s appearance be connected to Cinderella’s mother.

In many of the older versions of the tale, the person or force who gives Cinderella the opportunity to escape her life is connected to her deceased mother. In some it even is her. Since trailers indicate that we do get to meet Cinderella’s mother, I would love to see that connection drawn, to show Ella her mother in some way is still there for her (I’m a sucker for a good mother-daughter story).

5. A glimpse at Cinderella’s dreams.

Cinderella never discusses her specific dreams in the original film because, like wishes, if she told them they would not come true. Plus, I think she wants something that is all her own. It worked for the original film because by having the dreams be vague, people could project their own dreams on the song and character.

Bur now, I think showing that maybe Cinderella had specific dreams – perhaps to escape servitude, or serve in another house as servant, live abroad – would help the audience understand the stakes of going to the ball for her, what she wants from life.

That’s all for this week! Sorry for the late post. See you Tuesday!

Learn more about the blog here, about me here, and resources hereCheck me out on tumblr at kateeorgera.tumblr.com, and check out my links in the sidebar and below:

Until next time,

~Kate

To read my reaction to Cinderella, click here!

Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey: Revisiting the Past in Doctor Who and the Works of Edward Eage

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(SPOILERS for Doctor Who Series 3-6, the works of Edward Eager, and Meet the Robinsons)

It has occurred to me recently that I don’t talk about books enough on this blog.

Considering that books were among my first loves, this oversight just won’t do. Of course, all types of stories are important, and I’ve talked about good old Harry Potter more than once. But there’s more than just Harry Potter on my bookshelf that deserves spotlighting!

So, like last week, I’m digging into my childhood to analyze an often overlooked favorite, in comparison to a pop culture phenomenon. 

In the 1950s, dramatic writer and lyricist Edward Eager, having a difficult time finding books to read to his son, began writing children’s books in the style of E. Nesbit – stories about ordinary children who stumble on some kind of quirky magic (the first book, for example, involved magic that worked by halves – the children had to wish for twice as much of something if they wanted the wish to work completely) that they then use to go on fantastic adventures through space, time, and even literature, referencing everything from One Thousand and One Nights to Little Women. Along the way, the children typically learn to use the magic wisely, and resolve conflicts in their ordinary lives.

Eager’s tales of magic spanned seven books in all (the last published two years before his death in 1964), but he did not use the same cast of characters across all seven. At most, a given cast of children would span two books. However, the siblings of Half Magic (1954) & Magic by the Lake (1957) and the cousins of Knight’s Castle (1956) & The Time Garden (1958), are connected by more than just their writer.

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Favorite Fictional Birthday Scenes

Confession: I celebrated my birthday yesterday, with parties held over the weekend. So, I didn’t write a traditional post this week. 

But I did want to post something. So, I decided to think back on fictional birthday scenes I have enjoyed (and wished I’d had ). 

Here are five fictional birthdays we all wished we’d had (Spoilers ahead for Once Upon a Time, The Lord of the Rings, Tangled, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone… kind of):

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What to Marathon When You’re Stuck Inside

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Snowed in (as much of the East Coast will be when this post goes up)? Sick with whatever’s going around school/the office? Just received one of those miraculous days where you have nothing to do and nowhere to be? Unless you have a great book to curl up with (or, y’know, homework), sounds like you need something to marathon!  Read more

What Harry Potter Has Taught Me About Family, Pt. 2

Welcome to the first Kate’s Curiosities post of 2015! Woo! 

I’m not sure if it was bad planning or good planning on my part to make the first post of the year a continuation of the last post of the old year. But either way, I hope you enjoy this further exploration into the dynamics of family in Harry Potter.

If you just found this post and have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the link to last week’s post. Basically, the idea was to ruminate on what Harry Potter can teach us about the complications of family, something I think we all reflect on at this time of year as we see family that we maybe don’t see much the rest of the year.

So, without further ado, let us continue where we left off last week (BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD):

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What Harry Potter Has Taught Me About Family, Pt. 1

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The holidays have come and gone, which means a lot of quality time with family we may not see all that often. For many families, it’s a lovely time of year. But we have to acknowledge that, for some, family time isn’t such a good thing. I sometimes feel that our culture generally doesn’t acknowledge the work involved in the care and keeping of family.

And I think a lot of the misconception comes from the works we absorb when we’re younger. A lot of stories aimed at children either give a pleasant picture of family, the only problem usually a lack of appreciation, or are about finding family rather than dealing with one you already have. Serious family issues come up later in YA and adult works, usually with a dose of crudeness and cynicism. But if we started talking about these things earlier, in a constructive way, maybe it could help kids to understand and defend against stressful family situations earlier.

Family entertainment in general has made strides in recent years with depicting different types of families, such as mixed family and single parent situations. But there are certain works that do an exceptional job at dealing with the complexities of family in a clear, concise, and constructive way. 

The Harry Potter series, I think, is definitely one of them.

Despite that Harry starts out the story an orphan, the series is actually very concerned with family for two reasons:

1. Love is the strongest force in Rowling’s Wizarding World, and love and family are closely connected.

2. Rowling develops her characters so thoroughly that she knows the family background of even the supporting characters. This family background often influences the characters’ decisions and values, either in support of or against the way they were brought up. The characters feel real because, just like us, they are effected by their families, but can still make decisions and grow to be better. 

Now, I’m not saying family can’t be made of people you aren’t related to or grew up with. I mean Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, and the Weasleys all became Harry’s family,  James became Sirius’s family when Sirius ran away from home, the Marauders became Remus’s family when they protected his secret and kept him company on the full moon. But, as stated above, the relationships a person has with the people they grew up with, who often are blood related, can effect much of their decisions and outlook, and thus, for better or for worse, we have to deal with and understand these people. 

I’ve loved this series from a young age, but the more I revisit it, either through Pottermore, fan articles, rereads (or, when using the audiobooks on car trips, relistening), or the films, the more I see how Rowling’s depiction of family is both wholesomely simple, and yet surprisingly mature and complex. So, I have to wonder what we can learn from the family relationships of the Wizarding World in navigating our own relationships?*

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