One of the joys of WandaVision was how that show took underused side characters like Darcy Lewis and Jimmy Woo and made them more fulsome characters in the MCU. Sure, they’re still exposition machines, but WandaVision gave them a chance to demonstrate expertise and contribute beyond just silly side antics—there’s a reason everyone suddenly wants to see a Woo-centric, X-Files style show, and it’s because WandaVision showed us a competent, capable Woo who is still the goofy nerd we met in Ant-Man and the Wasp. He went from comic relief to a character who was funny, but also cool and up to some interesting stuff on his own. With the debut of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I was hoping the same would happen for Sharon Carter, the much-maligned character played by Emily VanCamp. Known as “Agent 13” in the comics, Sharon has a rich story history of her own, and, at least on paper, should be a cool character on screen. Suffice it to say, that did not happen.
First introduced as Steve Rogers’ neighbor-cum-SHIELD-agent in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Sharon never really got her feet under her in the MCU. She appeared again in Captain America: Civil War, but at that point it was clear no one in the Marvel machine had any idea what to do with her. In the comics, she’s Steve’s ride-or-die, but the movies went a different way, painting Sharon’s great-aunt, Peggy Carter, as Steve’s great love. That made any romantic pairing with Steve inherently weird, and a sexless kiss void of any chemistry in Civil War only sealed the deal: no one wanted to see Steve and Sharon together. Also, the time f-cking in Endgame means Sharon is probably Steve’s great-niece, so he kissed his niece. Gross.
After botching the character so badly that she’s retroactively making out with her uncle, Falcon represented a chance to reboot the character in a fresh, post-Steve Rogers world. Except Falcon didn’t really reboot Sharon, it basically made Sharon a whole new person, and a bad one at that. In its final episode, Falcon revealed what fans already suspected: Sharon was the mysterious Power Broker running the criminal underground in Madripoor and dealing supersoldier serum on the black market (among other things). And I’m into it! I LOVE the idea of a villainous Sharon Carter. The character is already completely f-cked up and has no shot of approximating her comic book counterpart, why NOT do something fun and totally different with her? Lean into it, I say. They also had a perfectly good reason for Sharon to break bad – that following the events of Civil War, she was forced on the run and never got a pardon like Bucky, and presumably Sam, also did.
Making Sharon a villain also makes her an interesting modern foil for Peggy, one of the founders of SHIELD and a formidable woman in her own right. I’m a little grossed out by Malcolm Spellman, Falcon’s showrunner, describing Sharon as “the Princess of Marvel”, but I get what he’s saying. She comes from a significantly important lineage within the story, and it’s fun to play against those expectations. It’s because of that lineage that Sharon has great potential as a villain. Throughout Falcon people kept saying “the world is upside down”; well, nothing is more upside down than a Carter turning traitor and throwing in with the Zemos and Vals of the world. And Sharon’s character was so insignificant and screwy before, there is literally no downside to making her an all-out villain now. It can only make her more interesting and engaging.
Make no mistake, Sharon’s heel turn is 100% the result of shoddy writing and one of Marvel’s besetting sins, that they cannot imagine female characters with lives independent of the men with whom they work. Not unlike Natasha Romanov, once a romantic storyline was off the table for Sharon, they simply had no idea what to do with her and could not imagine a Sharon without a Steve. So, despite being a significant character in the comics, Sharon got sidelined and was one of the few characters to make NO appearance in Infinity War or Endgame. Now, she’s a whole new person, but at least she has places to go and things to do that don’t HAVE to be dictated by the actions of the men around her. My fear, though, is that they won’t commit to Fully Villainous Sharon and she’ll turn out to be a double agent, secretly working for Nick Fury or similar—it’s happened in the comics—or she’ll be a Skrull impostor, and the “real” Sharon will reemerge with her total lack of personality intact. That would be an even bigger waste of potential than Sharon has already been up to this point. Just let a bad bitch be a Bad Bitch and turn Sharon Carter into one of the running antagonists of the MCU.