Much of Peggy Carter’s enduring popularity across the Marvel Cinematic Universe can be attributed to the personality and depth Haley Atwell brought to the character, something evident as early as her original Captain America: The First Avenger screen test.
As revealed in Tara Bennett and Paul Terry’s book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, director Joe Johnston nearly cried when Atwell was brought in to perform Peggy and Steve Roger’s tragic radio call. “We’re all sitting there in this quiet room in Shepperton. Chris Evans wasn’t in town, so one of the assistants was off camera, reading his dialogue,” he said. “We’re shooting this scene and I start thinking ‘This is really emotional.'”
However, it was Atwell’s delivery of Peggy’s lines that gave the scene an unexpected additional gravitas, eventually leaving Johnston thinking, “I’m going to burst into tears any second.” That sentiment was also felt by his first assistant director and the hair and makeup team, whom the book described as actually crying and comforting one another afterward. In response to the emotions felt during that moment, Johnston acknowledged, “It was just so amazing.”
After becoming a fan-favorite character in The First Avenger, Atwell reprised her role as Peggy for The Winter Soldier before making brief appearances in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man and Avengers: Endgame. She also starred in the Marvel One-Shot Agent Carter, which later spawned a short-lived TV show of the same name that ran for two seasons on ABC before getting canceled. Though Peggy died of old age in Captain America: Civil War, the MCU has since focused on her niece Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), whose post-Civil War story recently continued in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
On top of her live-action roles, Atwell voiced Peggy in two episodes of Avengers Assemble: Season 4’s “New Year’s Resolution” and Season 5’s “T’Chanda.” Her latest reprisal was in Marvel’s What If…?, playing an alternate timeline Peggy who took the super-soldier serum instead of Steve and became the superhero Captain Carter. During What If…?‘s season finale, Captain Carter was recruited by the Watcher alongside other previously established multiverse characters to fight an Infinity Stone-powered Ultron, though its post-credit scene also teased a continuation of Carter’s 1940s storyline that will carry over into Season 2.
Source: The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
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