The premiere episode of Marvel’s Agent Carter, “Now is Not the End,” introduced an important new player to Marvel’s cinematic universe, one that has roots in Marvel Comics. The mystery will likely be slowly unveiled over the course Agent Carter’s remaining six weeks, but if you’re interested in knowing the comic book history, we’ll lay it out for you right here.
Possible SPOILERS follow.
We’ve written before about how heavily Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. draws from the Marvel Comics series Secret Warriors. Agent Carter seems to be borrowing from the same material, because Leviathan, the organization behind the theft of Howard Stark’s technology, was introduce in Secret Warriors.
Where Hydra was born out of the remnants of Nazi Germany and the Axis powers, the terrorist organization known as Leviathan was birthed in soviet Russia. About 100,000 of Russia’s best and most brutal went missing without explanation one day, and it turns out they had all placed themselves into cryogenic sleep.
Leviathan was involved in a plan with Hydra, the Hand, and S.H.I.E.L.D. – yes S.H.I.E.L.D. – to use salvaged Brood technology to create super soldiers. Leviathan double-crossed the other organizations, stealing the Brood tech for themselves. In retaliation, Hydra and the Hand sabotaged Leviathan’s tanks so that those inside would emerge as monsters.
During the Dark Reign event, Leviathan finally resurfaced and waged war on Hydra. At the time, there was no S.H.I.E.L.D. to speak of, but Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos became involved in the conflict, with Fury being ultimately responsible for Leviathan’s downfall.
So what does this mean for Agent Carter? It’s hard to say. Leviathan was largely inactive until the events of Secret Warriors and Dark Reign, so their very presence in Agent Carter’s 1946 setting breaks from the comic book script.
The Leviathan agents that we’ve so far also don’t appear too monstrous, thought they are brutally efficient. Their vocal scars also suggest brutality on their part of their masters. Perhaps the agents we’ve seen are just low level cronies, and the higher ups of leviathan are as monstrous as their comic book counterparts.
The Brood exist in a hazy area of film rights as well. They’re one of Marvel comics’ great cosmic empires, but they debuted in Uncanny X-Men #155, which may mean that Fox has the rights to use them on screen. Marvel Studios has hinted at a connection between Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so perhaps the Brood will be replaced by the Kree, possibly linking Leviathan to the Guest House and the origins of T.A.H.I.T.I. and GH 325.
We have nothing to go on with the Leviathan agents we’ve been introduced to so far. Leet Brannis does exist in the Marvel Unvierse, but he only appeared in a single issue (All Winners #4) and was a simple gangster, with no known connection to Leviathan. Seems likely the use of his name was just an Easter egg for hardcore Golden Age Marvel fans.
And as for that heart symbol Brannis drew in the dirt…I’ve got nothing.
Agent Carter airs Tuesday nights on ABC.
Addendum: Reader Greg Sainer noted that Leviathan was the villainous organization in the animated film Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher, in which they steal technology from S.H.I.E.L.D. and threaten to sell it on the black market, which is quite similar to their apparent plans in Agent Carter.