One of Iron Man's enemies is going back in time.
Slashfilm revealed yesterday that the upcoming second season of ABC's Agent Carter will feature Marvel Comics supervillain Madame Masque as Peggy Carter's newest foe.
In a Q&A interview with Agent Carter executive producers Tara Butters and Chris Dingess during an ABC party for the Television Critics Association, Slashfilm asked them about Season 2, including how Madame Masque will be adapted for the series. Here are their comments on the character:
Slashfilm: Are there any Marvel villains exclusively from the ‘40s you have access to?
Tara: Here’s the thing. It’s a little hard. In the comic books, a lot of the Marvel period, there are issue rights. Our villain from the season is very much a Marvel villain (Madame Masque) that we co-opted a little bit like we did Dr. Fennhoff (Dr. Faustus) in the first season.
Chris: It’s a ‘40s version of that villain.
Slashfilm: So you’ve adapted her back in time.
Tara: We’ve co-opted her.
Chris: We put our spin on her.
Slashfilm: What was modern about Madame Masque that just wouldn’t work in the ‘40s?
Tara: I think we’ve changed the look of her a bit obviously. We’ve made her an actress, which is very Hedy Lamarr. She was a ‘40s siren actress who was also a scientific genius, so that’s part of what we’re mining with this character.
Slashfilm: Have you cast her?
Tara: Yes, we have but we’re not allowed to announce it yet.
Slashfilm: Is it significant that the villain is a woman?
Tara: For me it is, because I feel like that is something that… as much as there are not enough female heroes just on television, I feel like having a female villain is just as equally powerful.
Chris: I also think because she’s a female villain, her story informs Peggy’s story in a unique way and vice versa.
Created in 1968 by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, Madame Masque first appeared in Tales of Suspense #98 as Whitney Frost, born as Giulietta Nefaria, the daughter of the master criminal Count Luchino Nefaria, in Rome, Italy. Her mother died while giving birth and Luchino wanted his daughter to lead a respectable life, so he gave the child to Byron Frost, a wealthy financier and an employee of Nefaria, along with his wife Loretta. Frost called the child Whitney and raised her as his own. As a young adult, Whitney was a debutante and socialite who became engaged to politician Roger Vane. When the Frosts died, Count Nefaria approached Whitney, revealing her true parentage and told her that he wanted her to take his place as leader of the Maggia, a Mafia-like organization based on the East Coast of the United States. At first, Whitney refused, but when she told Roger about her father, he left her, afraid that her connections to a known criminal would hamper his political career.
Whitney accepted her father's offer to become a professional criminal mastermind and was trained by him in strategy, criminal activities, and combat. She turned out to be a brilliant student and when her father was imprisoned, she became the new Big M, the leader of the Nefaria family in the Maggia. Her role as Big M brought her into conflict with Iron Man, forcing Whitney to flee after a raid on his company, Stark Industries. The plane she escaped in crashed and Whitney's face was scarred, but she was saved by the criminal Mordecai Midas and began working for him. Midas was obsessed with gold, so Whitney hid her face behind a golden mask and began using the alias Madame Masque starting with Iron Man (vol.1) #17 in 1969.
This will be the first depiction of Madame Masque in live-action, although the character has appeared in animated form on the 1994 Iron Man animated series (voiced by Lisa Zane), and on Iron Man: Armored Adventures (voiced by Kristie Marsden).
Agent Carter is expected to return to ABC for Season 2 sometime around January 2016, during the midseason hiatus of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.