MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER: The Blitzkrieg Button (television mini-series critique)


This episode’s title, The Blitzkrieg Button, refers to a Blitzkrieg ball, which, when pressed, turns into a Blitzkrieg bomb. Or so says Howard Stark who sends Peggy on a mission to retrieve his invention before it falls into enemy hands. However, could the enemy be Stark himself?

That’s what Peggy suspects when she pushes the button, which doesn’t cause the ball to blow up New York as she was warned, but instead opens the ball to reveal the true MacGuffin inside. What is the true MacGuffin? I’ll get to that momentarily. First, let’s examine Stark’s not-so-foolproof plan.

He lies to Peggy about the contents of the ball and thinks that telling her not to press the button will keep her from pressing the button, but, as any human with human nature knows, we will all press a button once we’re told not to. We just have to. We do. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t.

Back to the MacGuffin.


“If you’re going to propose, Howard, might I suggest a ring instead.”

It turns out to be the last vial of captain Steve Rogers’ Super-Soldier blood, for which Howard correctly predicted would make Peggy too emotional to complete her mission, hence why he lied. If my “dead” boyfriend was Captain America and his blood was in my hands, I’d be emotionally compromised too.

The one thing Howard didn’t lie about was the ensuing danger should the Blitzkrieg ball of blood fall into the wrong hands. America’s adversaries (America the country, not the captain) would stop at nothing to have their own army of Super-Soldiers and Cap’s blood is the way to achieve said army.

What I’d like to know is what happened to the other 11 vials that we’re told were kept by the U.S. Army? I’m guessing some went into the failed attempts to replicate Project Rebirth, which resulted in the creation of the Hulk and Abomination as seen in the Edward Norton Hulkster film. But where did the rest of the vials go, eh? Hmm? Eh?

Howard Stark is back for the first time since the first episode. He provides some great playboy moments, including the original man cave as devised by a wealthy genius — a posh train car with a pool table and other bachelor pad accouterments.


“It’s true, Peg. I stir my tea with ball-point pens.”

It’s also fun to see Howard romancing Peggy’s neighbors at her all-girls boarding house. The house is run by a strict nun of a woman who encompasses the best (or worst) of Nurse Ratched, Ms. Trunchbull, and Miss Hannigan. If she catches Peggy hiding Howard in her room, then Peg will be out on the street. Or in Howard’s portable pad. Knowing her, she’ll take the street.

Dominic Cooper is fantastic as Howard. With his perfect American accent steeped in era appropriate inflection, it’s hard to imagine that Cooper is British in real life. In fact, the three main characters of Agent Carter — Howard, Carter (not Howard Carter), and Jarvis — are all played by Brits, but only one gets to be all-American.

The more we see of Cooper’s performance, the less believable it is that Howard evolves into John Slattery’s older version as seen in Iron Man 2. I wish Marvel aged Cooper with make-up/C.G.I. along the lines of Hayley Atwell in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Instead they hired an older actor to play an older Howard, but, since the second Iron Man film was shot before the first Captain America film, Cooper hadn’t been cast yet, so I’ll let it slide.

Still… if I were to ever endorse George Lucas-style tinkering (Buh-bye, Sebastian Shaw. Hello, Hayden Christensen.), it would be in this instance.

“Jarvis, who’s behind that newspaper? He’s giving me the creeps.”

There are some strong trust issues at stake here between Howard and Peggy, not to mention poor Jarvis who gets caught in the middle. One of the pleasures of this mini-series is that although it takes place in the Spy vs. Spy past of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it doesn’t depend on Alias-worthy double and triple crosses like S.H.I.E.L.D. does. (Not yet anyway.)

As entertaining as the duplicity is over there, it would feel redundant over here, though not as redundant as Stan Lee’s umpteenth cameo, this time as a shoeshine customer rubbing elbows with Howard.

What if all of these cameos throughout the Marvel Cinematic (and Telematic) Universe are more than mere cameos? I heard a theory recently that speculates Stan could actually be Uatu, he of the enigmatic space-faring race of Watchers who do just that in Marvel comics — they watch. Everything and everyone. Then they record it all for some such cosmic reason.

As unlikely as this fun fan fic is, it would be more enjoyable than Stan’s guest star cameo in Big Hero 6, which was less cameo and more star than I prefer.

Co-creator of the best superhero playground around — Absolutely.

Oscar-winning actor — Not so much.

NEXT MISSION: The Howling Commandos return in The Iron Ceiling.


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