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Agent Carter: James D'Arcy Asks Did Tony Stark Actually Know Edwin Jarvis?
IGN / MARVEL'S AGENT CARTER / 29 JAN 2015
James D'Arcy talks about Jarvis's relationship with Tony Stark (or lack thereof) and his own talks with Paul Bettany (or lack thereof).
By Max Nicholson --> Warning: Some spoilers from the most recent Agent Carter episode follow...
For the last few years or so, most MCU fans knew J.A.R.V.I.S. as Iron Man's artificial intelligence system, voiced by Paul Bettany. However, Marvel's Agent Carter, which began airing on ABC earlier this month, showed us to the man behind the tech -- Edwin Jarvis -- played by the oh-so charming James D'Arcy. On the new show, Jarvis is Howard Stark's butler and Peggy Carter's partner in the hunt to clear Howard Stark's name -- although he and Peggy hit a rough patch in this week's episode.
Today, IGN got to speak with D'Arcy about his role on Agent Carter, as well as where his character could end up in the larger MCU. Plus, an interesting bit about Jarvis and Tony Stark...
Did Tony Stark Actually Know Edwin Jarvis?
James D'Arcy as Edwin Jarvis in Agent Carter
Now that we know Jarvis is a real person in the MCU and not just an A.I., most fans probably assume that Tony knew the original Jarvis. However, D'Arcy posited the theory that maybe they never really knew each other. Rather, J.A.R.V.I.S. is Tony's idealized version of the real-life Jarvis. "Other than the obvious fact that the J.A.R.V.I.S. system in the Iron Man suit is based on Tony's memory of who Jarvis was -- or maybe his invention of how he wishes Jarvis was -- it's not even clear if that's for real. He doesn't have to be the real person," D'Arcy said. "It gave us enormous freedom to explore the real-life Jarvis in whatever way we wanted."
In terms of Jarvis's influence on Tony and whether that could manifest on Agent Carter, D'Arcy said, "I feel like Tony Stark was probably born in the '60s, and unless our show suddenly jumps forward 20-odd years, I don't know how that would happen."
D'Arcy Never Spoke to Paul Bettany
When asked if he had talked to Paul Bettany about playing his Marvel character's human counterpart, D'Arcy replied, "No, I haven't seen Paul for a little while. Obviously we worked together on Master and Commander years ago. I'm sure if he was aware of it he'd be tickled by the idea that we're sort of playing the same character."
Adding to that, D'Arcy said he didn't take any of Bettany's voice work into account for his own performance. "I didn't consider going back and looking at the Iron Man movies, the Avengers movie, and seeing if I should do that," he said. "In fact, because we predate all of that and he is an A.I. system, it was really unnecessary. It would have put me in a straightjacket that I didn't want to be in. So it's relevant/not relevant."
D'Arcy's Jarvis in a Marvel Movie?
Speaking of the MCU at large, we've seen Peggy Carter appear in both Captain America movies, and Bettany will soon make his on-screen debut as Vision in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. With that in mind, is there any potential for D'Arcy's Jarvis to pop up in a future Marvel film, via flashbacks or otherwise? "I think anything is possible in the Marvel Cinematic Universe," D'Arcy said. "That's what's so clever about what they do. They connect their stories together in a real and meaningful way that is both thrilling and exciting for huge Marvel fans... I think they're pretty fluid about the way that these things work." Hmm...
More of Jarvis and Howard Stark Coming Soon
As for Agent Carter, can we expect to see more of the Jarvis/Howard dynamic in future episodes? "Yep, you can," D'Arcy said. "You will definitely discover more about their relationship -- and they're going to be put into a tricky situation."
The game, my dear Jarvis, is afoot!
D'Arcy continued, "All I'm going to say is that the stakes are raised exponentially with each episode from now until the end. It becomes very, very intense... Everybody ends up doing things that they did not consider themselves capable of doing."
Who is the Mysterious Mrs. Jarvis?
One of the funnier, quirkier mysteries in Agent Carter is the identity of Jarvis's wife Anna. Even though we heard her voice a couple episodes back, we've yet to actually see her, leading some fans to believe that she may not be what she seems. D'Arcy confirmed that he's read the theories online, saying, "That's gotten quite a lot of attention considering [Anna's] only had two off-camera lines. I'd hate to legislate what audiences should or shouldn't expect. Honestly, the fact that it's interesting to people means they're already using their imaginations as to what [their marriage] might be like... It's an impossible question for me to answer, I think, because all of [the theories] might be true. [Laughs] My private views will serve only to narrow down the possibilities, so probably better that I keep them to myself."
As to whether we might actually see Anna at some point, D'Arcy couldn't say -- so the jury's still out!
Jarvis and Peggy: The Dream Team
Of course, last week's episode of Agent Carter found Jarvis in some hot water with Peggy. Now, he has "a distance to go" before he can regain her loyalty. D'Arcy explained, "What's going to happen in the next episode -- and I don't think this gives too much away -- is, in an attempt to repair the situation, Jarvis is going to inadvertently spur Peggy on to take some control of her life. She's suddenly very isolated. She obviously can't go to the SSR for any kind of help. Howard is a disaster, and she's not on speaking terms with him... So it leads her into this situation where she does something that she didn't think she was going to be capable of."
Given the time period, Jarvis is unique in that he sees Peggy as an equal. When asked how he feels about portraying such a supportive character, D'Arcy said, "I feel fantastic about it. It's one of the things that I love about it. In a world where we frequently have the conversation about sexism, I love the fact that it's a part of the show. It's part of the social commentary of 1946. I think what's so brilliant about it is that... we have this fantastic, strong female role model, front and center, but we also have two female showrunners; we have lots of women in various departments on our show.
"This show is an equal opportunity show in the way that life should be equal opportunity, and it's just our quiet response to that conversation. I love it. I think it's beautiful. And I really love that I get to play the person who truly sees these women as fully rounded, three-dimensional human beings, at a time when women weren't really seen that way. I love that Jarvis is a truly modern man in that regard. Honestly, it makes me so happy that I get to be that person."
Max Nicholson is a writer for IGN, and he desperately seeks your approval. Show him some love by following @Max_Nicholson on Twitter, or MaxNicholson on IGN.