Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have laid the groundwork for Marvel Television – but in-universe, Agent Carter is about 70 years earlier. Let’s take a look at the top five things that Coulson and his team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents can thank Peggy and the S.S.R. for.
5. The Faustus
In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In season two, The Faustus is a brainwashing technique used by HYDRA on Absorbing Man, Blizzard, and more memorably Agent 33 and Sunil Bakshi. It relies on hypnosis to make it’s users “happy to comply”.
In Agent Carter: In season one, the villain Dr. Johann Fennhoff uses hypnosis to convince his enemies into giving him what he wants. Not only is Fennhoff seen reading the play “The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus” in one scene, Dr. Faustus is what he is called in the comics themselves. At the end of the season he joins Arnim Zola, presumably to help kickstart the Winter Soldier project and – one can assume – ultimately create HYDRA’s handy coercion technique.
Why it’s significant: While S.H.I.E.L.D. itself is never seen using the Faustus, the machine itself contributed to many of the villains fought in the second season. It also very well may have been the technique used to brainwash the Winter Soldier.
4. The Guest Host
In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Guest Host was the Kree alien body who supplied the serum for the T.A.H.I.T.I. project, saving the life of Garrett and Skye and – of course – resurrecting Coulson after the events of The Avengers.
In Agent Carter: Okay, technically this is cheating. The G.H. never appeared on Agent Carter – however, it did appear in a S.H.I.E.L.D. flashback starring Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos, set shortly before the events of Agent Carter season one. When capturing the man who would be known as Daniel Whitehall, Carter, Dugan and Morita confiscate his research – including the poor unnamed decomposing Kree alien.
Why it’s significant: Without the G.H., Coulson would have remained dead and we wouldn’t have Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at all!
3. HYDRA Infiltration
In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Nothing quite rocked the boat (or possibly ever will again) like the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Finding out HYDRA has basically been infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. since it’s inception not only made for a kick-ass movie, it destroyed the very foundation of the show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and forced them to rebuild from the ground up (sans a few traitors here and there).
In Agent Carter: All it took was one scene: Big bad Arnim Zola in an American prison, talking about the land of opportunity after the Nazi/HYDRA defeat of WWII. Something tells me this wasn’t the best guy for Operation Paperclip.
Why it’s significant: What’s a cooler twist than finding out the good guys are actually the bad guys? When the good guys don’t even know it! Watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier if you don’t already understand the enormous impact this event had on the MCU as a whole.
In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The stalker Marcus Daniels gained Darkforce powers after a lab accident during experiments, becoming the villain Blackout. Coulson and his team eventually stop him from terrorizing Coulson’s cellist ex-girlfriend Audrey with some well-placed gamma ray lamps.
In Agent Carter: The entirety of season two focuses on Isodyne and their research and experimentation with “Zero Matter”, which is – you guessed it – Darkforce.
Why it’s significant: The significance of the presence of Darkforce in the MCU cannot be overstated. In the comics, many superheroes and supervillains draw their unique powers from this mysterious energy. In the MCU, Wilkes gains intangibility, Blackout gains control over darkness itself, Frost can convert living creatures into energy, and poor Jane Porter freezes everything she comes in contact with. Said to be further explored in Doctor Strange, Darkforce could potentially be second to only Inhumans when it comes to introducing superpowered individuals to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Do I even need to explain how S.H.I.E.L.D. factors into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
In Agent Carter: S.H.I.E.L.D. never appears in the show itself; however, it does appear in the proof-of-concept One Shot short film that has been categorized as a “summarization of the series”. After years of being mistreated at the S.S.R. post-war, Howard Stark and “Dum Dum” Dugan offer Peggy the job of the lifetime – to help start a new agency called the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Espionage & Logistics Division.
Why it’s significant: Not only is S.H.I.E.L.D. the driving force behind our heroes in The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron and a major antagonizing force in Thor and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they are the entire reason the shared universe of the MCU exists. If former S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury didn’t show up at the end of Iron Man to talk about The Avengers Initiative, we would have only one movie and hundreds of hours of what could have been.