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Tag Archives: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I had the faintest glimmer of hope at the climax of Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the midst of our intrepid heroes’ battle with the titular AI run amok, when the chances for a civilian evacuation seemed bleak, Nick Fury came blazing to the rescue with a helicarrier, and reassured Earth’s Mightiest Heroes that he had “pulled her out of mothballs with a couple of old friends”.
Here it was, the moment when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would have the slightest impact on the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, the TV show’s characters would be relegated to a quick cameo or even the background, but the devoted fans who had slogged through the show’s rougher patches would be rewarded with a brief glimpse of Fitz or Simmons or Mack or somebody from the ragtag remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D., there to help save the day. It only made sense. After all, if recent episodes of the show were any indication, Fury and Maria Hill had been working with Coulson’s team off-screen for some time, and there were more than a few capable agents suited to the task.
But no. Instead, the brief-if-pleasant bit of continuity came in the form of an appearance by the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent from Captain America: The Winter Soldier who had refused to launch Hydra’s helicarriers despite being held at gunpoint. It was a nice callback, but one that still left me feeling cold to a film that seemed to only make the broadest of gestures toward the rest of the MCU.
While watching the first season of Agent Carter, I couldn’t help but wonder why I enjoyed it so much more than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., its much maligned and mildly resurgent Marvel television counterpart. Although the two shows have different teams behind them, they are, nevertheless, small screen cousins, with Peggy Carter making more than a few flashback cameos on AoS. The two series would seem to have too much shared DNA for anyone to have such different reactions to them. But in investigating this mystery, I kept coming back to one, overwhelming factor – Hayley Atwell.
Atwell soars as the protagonist of Agent Carter and commands nearly every scene she’s in. She portrays the titular character as a woman of quiet strength, with a steadiness in everything she does despite the tumult that surrounds her. But Atwell’s take on the character transcends the trope of the typical “action girl”, instead making Peggy a fully realized, three-dimensional character. Atwell acquits herself well when Peggy is exhibiting a steely resolve in a tense situation, and can just as convincingly show the character’s vulnerability and empathy in a private moment, with each emotional state feeling genuine and inhabited. She brings an undeniable presence to the character, and her rising tide lifts all boats in the series.
“Why are so few of us left active, healthy, and without personality disorders?”
- Rorschach, in Alan Moore’s Watchmen
One of my theater teachers gave me some advice before I performed a particularly bizarre piece on stage. He said, “Make the character’s reactions real. No matter how wild the situation or how crazy the setting, you have to make the audience believe that this is how someone would react.”
It’s easy to get caught up in the fantastical world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sure, creator Joss Whedon lays down some important ground rules for his universe, but at its heart, it’s still a fantasy world where the chosen few do battle with demons and monsters and bloodsuckers in a quiet California suburb. Through five seasons of Buffy, Whedon & Co. populated this world. They gave it life as a place where the mystical reigns above the everyday. Then, in Season 6 they decided to turn it completely on its head.
They changed course and put their focus on how the folks battling supernatural threats handle the fallout of that fight in their everyday lives. The mythic elements of Buffy–the monsters, the spells, the magic–were all still there, but they took a backseat to giving the audience one, big, season-long reminder — that the story of Buffy Summers is supposed to take place in the real world.