"I guess I know a little bit about being ignored just because of your appearance, or because of some other issue you can't control. I guess you and I are shining examples of a soldier coming in all shapes and sizes."Margaret Elizabeth "Peggy" Carter was born just outside of London, England in 1921. She was born to a middle class British family headed by Harrison Carter, a member of Scotland Yard, from whom she learned the value of security and gained her interest in policework, despite being steered away from those things by her mother in an attempt to mold her into a perfect English lady. Peggy was schooled at St. Teresa's Academy from the age of 11 onwards, but left after only three years due to financial difficulties from the family. Eager to showcase her natural talents for investigation, Peggy managed to convince her father to let her at least learn from some people at MI-5. There, she so impressed her superiors, that she was essentially drafted into a position with the agency, just before the German invasion of Poland brought on World War II.
Despite being an impressive student, Carter was initially relegated to the equivalent of the typing pool. When she met General Chester Phillips, who was on assignment to convince the British to a new joint venture in scientific research with military application, she attempted to impress the American general with her knowledge and foresight. After correctly predicting the true threat they faced in the war as being HYDRA rather than the Nazi's themselves, Carter managed to convince Phillips to allow her into the Strategic Scientific Reserve, becoming one of the first official agents of the new division.
Carter traveled to America with Phillips, becoming a coordinating agent on Project Rebirth, which was designed to create an army of super soldiers using the formula of Dr. Abraham Erskine. Several candidates were chosen to be the initial test project, and Carter was part of the team that considered them all. In the course of training and observing, she became friends with one of the recruits by the name of Steve Rogers. What Rogers lacked in strength and skill, he seemingly made up for in heart, like when he willingly jumped on what he thought was a live grenade to protect others. Carter expressed her acceptance of Rogers as the initial candidate for the Super Soldier Serum, and was present when Rogers was transformed into the being that would become Captain America (and immediately felt a bit of a physical attraction to him following the procedure.) Immediately afterwards, though, Dr. Erskine was killed by Heinz Kruger and the serum was seemingly lost. Carter and industrialist Howard Stark were transferred to North Africa to take the fight to HYDRA, while Rogers was given to US Senator Bob Stern to serve as a propaganda tool for the USO, selling war bonds.
The two would meet up again some 18 months later in Italy, with the SSR on the ropes against HYDRA and Rogers growing disillusioned about his role as a "dancing monkey." When Rogers learned of his friend Bucky's capture by HYDRA forces, he sought to perform a rescue mission thirty miles behind enemy lines. Despite General Phillips not agreeing with the plan and not giving it his blessing, Peggy agreed to help Capt. Rogers in his efforts, enlisting the help of industrialist and pilot Howard Stark to fly them across enemy lines. After allowing Rogers to parachute off the plane and making it back to base camp alright, Carter had to explain to Phillips her actions. This task was made more difficult as, for several days, there appeared to be no sign of activity over the base's location. However, before Carter could be drummed out of the service, Rogers returned to base camp with Bucky and several dozen other soldiers who were being held prisoner. Rogers was then allowed to the front lines and given a platoon of his own, known as the Howling Commandos.
Over the course of the next two years, Cap and the Howling Commandos systematically took out several HYDRA bases scattered around Europe. They also participated in supporting actions with the rest of the Army during the war, such as in one exercise where they rescued a platoon (which happened to contain Carter's future husband) that was pinned down by enemy fire. Over this period of time Carter and Rogers grew closer and began something of a tentative relationship, even going on a romantic date with dancing that is eventually interrupted by General Phillips, who sends Rogers on a mission to capture Dr. Armin Zola. During this mission, however, Bucky Barnes, Rogers' best friend, is seemingly killed in action. Shortly thereafter Zola revealed the existence of the Valkyrie, a plane designed to bomb the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, as well as the location of HYDRA's main base in the Swiss Alps. Carter managed the troop movements of the Commandos and ground forces as they stormed the base, working with General Phillips to do so. They initially appeared to win the day, capturing the base and with Rogers seemingly defeating the Red Skull. However Peggy's heart was broken when Rogers radioed in that he had to crash the plane in the Arctic to save New York, saying they would have to delay finishing their dance.
After the war, Carter was sworn to secrecy concerning the actions of Captain Rogers, along with the rest of the Howling Commandos and other members of the SSR. The Strategic Scientific Reserve was set to be disbanded following the war, but General Phillips saw the need for their continued existence outside the direct US chain of command. With other western allies, General Phillips, Agent Carter and Howard Stark were instrumental in the founding of the Strategic Homeland Intervention and Enforcement Logistics Division, commonly referred to by the acronym of SHIELD. Carter initially served as a primary agent of the new service, before transferring into recruitment and administration. She was one of the initial contacts with scientist Hank Pym in the late 60s when he was researching the Pym Particle, and bringing him into the SHIELD fold. Upon the death of General Phillips in 1970, Carter would serve on the ruling council of SHIELD along with her old friend Howard Stark, a position she would serve for over 20 years. Along the way, she also married and had two children, and became a good mentor to her niece later in life, Sharon Carter.
Upon Howard Stark's sudden death in 1991, Peggy Carter was the first official director of SHIELD since General Phillips died, as well as its first female commander. She only held this position briefly before retirement, when she turned it over to Wolfgang von Strucker. Carter remained connected with her living friends from SHIELD and the war, providing advice to Nick Fury when he became director in 1999. In the late 2000s her world was shaken upon the sudden discovery of Steve Rogers body in the frozen Arctic and his subsequent revival. Neither one contacted the other for fear of what might be said, but eventually the two reconnected and rekindled their friendship. Unfortunately Peggy was in the beginning to middle stages of dementia, which caused her to constantly forget Rogers return from the dead. Eventually she moved back to England in the final stages of her disease, and died in late 2016 surrounded by her children and grandchildren.
Powers & Abilities
- Master Spy: Carter was trained for espionage by the British Secret Service MI-5 just prior to the outbreak of World War II, and was so skilled at her job that she was offered a position in the joint military venture with the then neutral United States known as the Strategic Scientific Reserve.
- Firearms Training: Carter was highly skilled in firearms training, particularly in the use of pistols, and was known to be one of the best shots amongst the upper echelon of SSR and SHIELD members.
- Organizational Capacity: It has been said that Carter was the driving force behind the founding of SHIELD, helping to bridge the gap between the military (General Phillips) and scientific (Howard Stark) branches of the SSR and achieve something greater. She also served as the first, and to date only, female director of SHIELD, albeit briefly at the end of her career (prior to that she had been a longtime member of SHIELD's ruling council).
Carter possessed no special abilities that made her any more protected from normal maladies of humanity. In her older age, she contracted a form of dementia that made her memory fade in and out, and ultimately was the cause of her death.
Agent Carter appears in the following films within the Earth-11584 continuity. In all cases she is portrayed by actress Hayley Atwell.
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
- Ant-Man (2015)
- Captain America: Civil War [only in photographs]