There's been talk of Marvel parachuting Hayley Atwell's Agent Carter into her own solo stories for some time. The studio first mused further One-Shots like the one on the Iron Man 3 Blu-ray. Then, last autumn, there were rumblings of a developing TV series. The latter is now officially a going concern, with US channel ABC ordering the Captain America spin-off straight to series with Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas named as showrunners. They've also renewed Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. for its second season.
The Agent Carter One-Shot has served as a pilot of sorts, with the full series picking up Peggy's adventures immediately afterwards. It's set in 1946, and sees Peggy dealing with the emotional fall-out of losing Steve Rogers to his icy 'grave', while also battling workplace sexism and finding herself marginalised as the guys return from WWII. She is stuck juggling admin for the Special Scientific Reserve while taking secret missions for Howard Stark (played in the films by Dominic Cooper, although his involvement here isn't yet confirmed).
The official synopsis reads thusly:
"Marvel’s Agent Carter, starring Captain America’s Hayley Atwell, follows the story of Peggy Carter. It’s 1946, and peace has dealt Peggy Carter a serious blow as she finds herself marginalised when the men return home from fighting abroad. Working for the covert SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), Peggy must balance doing administrative work and going on secret missions for Howard Stark all while trying to navigate life as a single woman in America, in the wake of losing the love of her life – Steve Rogers."
THR's sources suggest that Agent Carter will be a 'short order' series, which means 13 episodes or fewer, compared to a full series' 22. The plan is for Atwell and co. to slot into the schedules when S.H.I.E.L.D. is on its between-season hiatus. She'll step into action following S.H.I.E.L.D.'s second season, with current intelligence suggesting the two shows will be linked in some way.
SPOILERS It would make sense, given the revelations of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and recent S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes, that it involve the shadowy build-up of Hydra, because it would all be a bit odd if super-Agent Carter was entirely insensible to that. Surely she has to at least be trying to engage with that danger, even if she ultimately fails to defeat it and, unawares, leaves it to grow. END SPOILERS
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., meanwhile, may not yet have become the must-see blockbuster ABC had hoped for, but it has still been performing solidly. It shed viewers following its hugely successful pilot (the biggest network drama premiere since 2009), but it remains ABC's highest-rated first-year series, and was given a serious shot in the arm by the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. If it continues to improve in season two, we might well be on to something.
S.H.I.E.L.D. is still playing in the UK on Friday nights on Channel 4, with a few weeks of the season left to run.