The Road to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Who is...Sharon Carter?
Fresh off the heels of the cultural phenomenon WandaVision, Marvel and Disney+ will be launching their second TV series. Unlike WandaVision, whose plot details and character specifics were largely shrouded in mystery prior to (and even during) the run, The Falcon and Winter Soldier looks to be a more straightforward “buddy cop”-style action series. Given that, the main cast has already been officially announced, and I thought it would be helpful to create short, easily digestible looks at each of the main characters. In the coming weeks I’ll look at the two titular characters, the primary villain (Zemo), and John Walker. While there won’t be spoilers for the show itself, there will be references from the comics that Feige and Co. may end up using in the series, so be warned. First, however, we’ll start with Sharon Carter.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe…
Sharon Carter, played by Emily VanCamp, made her first appearance in 2014’s Captain America: Winter Soldier. Initially, she’s introduced as Kate, a nurse who lives next door to Steve Rogers, who is settling into life in the 21st century after having spent seven decades on ice.
After a brief flirty scene, it’s quickly revealed (during an attack on Nick Fury in Steve’s apartment) that she’s actually a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (Agent 13) assigned to keep an eye on Steve for the organization. When it’s revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by Hydra (the evil Nazi analogues from Captain America: The First Avenger) Sharon resists their takeover, helping Cap and friends fight off the group. Slightly creepy side note that will become a bit of a thing later on - Sharon Carter is the great-niece of Peggy Carter, Steve’s one true love from CA:TFA.
Sharon next appears in Captain America: Civil War. Having left S.H.I.E.L.D. after the collapse of the organization at the end of the last film, she’s now a CIA agent assigned to the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre. She’s reunited with Steve at her Aunt Peggy’s funeral before they have to run off in search of Bucky Barnes (aka The Winter Soldier), who has been framed for an attack that killed, among others, T’Chaka, the king of Wakanda.
Despite her assignment, Sharon trusts Steve and helps him out when he, Bucky, and Sam Wilson (aka Falcon) go on the run. They also (and here’s the creepy side note) share a kiss, much to the delight and/or chagrin of Bucky and Sam. And that’s pretty much it for Sharon in the MCU prior to the upcoming series. In the next several Captain America appearances she’s completely absent, which is probably for the best given the timey-wimey ramifications of Steve’s life at the end of Avengers: Endgame (which I won’t get into, here).
In the comics…
So, Sharon Carter/Agent 13 was first introduced in the pages of Tales of Suspense #75 in March of 1966. Created by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Dick Ayers, the character was first the younger sister and then retconned into being the niece (not great-niece) of Peggy Carter, a resistance fighter Cap was briefly romantically involved with during the war.
Sharon Carter/Agent 13 would share adventures and become romantic during several comics from 1966 to 1979, until she was seemingly (this word is going to pop up A LOT when talking about comics) killed during an undercover mission battling white supremacists. If you’re curious and would like to go further down a rabbit hole, check out Women in Refrigerators for the concept of “fridging.”
Sharon wouldn’t be seen again until she’s brought back in 1998. Long story short, she was dead, but S.H.I.E.L.D. faked her death, but then they lost contact with her and thought she really WAS dead, but nah.
Later, Sharon and Steve would become romantically involved again. Unfortunately, she was brainwashed by Doctor Faustus (supervillain psychologist - don’t worry about it) into thinking that she shot and killed Steve. In fact, she shot him with a time gun (?) that displaced him and left a body but he wasn’t DEAD dead.
We’ll get into this more when I look at Winter Soldier in a few weeks, but suffice to say Steve came back, then disappeared again, then reappeared but Sharon was dead but then not dead and it’s a whole thing. She's also been brainwashed on at least three separate occasions (and possibly more).
Currently, Sharon is the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the pages of Marvel comics. Also, she's a senior citizen now (in comic book terms, that means she's drawn to look like a 40+ year old).
So, that’s Sharon Carter/Agent 13. While it’s known that she’ll be returning in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, exactly what her role will be in the story is not. We can only hope that it somehow involves time guns, though, and that she dies and un-dies at least twice during the six-episode run.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premieres Friday, March 19th on Disney+ and will air weekly until April 23rd.
References: Wikipedia, Marvel.fandom.com, Marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com, and my fuzzy memories of 10+ year old comic books.