25 Inimitable Men 20/25
Edwin Jarvis (Agent Carter)
#SideKickGOALS. I mean, go ahead, I dare you to tell me someone that’s better — I’ll be waiting. And listen, while we’re normally all for listening to the opinion of others with the belief that no opinion is wrong, when it comes to this question, in the world of television, if it isn’t Edwin Jarvis, the answer is wrong. Sorry not sorry, we don’t make the rules. /End Rant. Agent Carter was the gift that gave us inimitable characters for two beautiful seasons before it was tragically robbed of a permanent home on television. (And no, I will never in my life be more bitter about a cancellation than this.) And in the midst of those exceptional two seasons, we not only got to know Peggy Carter, but we were given the chance to get to know the Stark’s infamous butler Edwin Jarvis. In our short but profound journey with the greatest sidekick in the world, we were able to understand without a single doubt why Tony Stark decided to keep him alive for all these years. See, here’s the thing, Tony Stark and I don’t agree on much, but at least we agree on the fact that Edwin Jarvis is the absolute best. In all seriousness though, friends — in Jarvis we met someone incomparably brave, unceasingly kind, and indescribably wise. We met a figure who’s truly indescribable and whose presence is an undeniable gift in the lives of many.
Jarvis’ bravery isn’t the traditional kind — now there are a number of men on this list who are brave. (I’m a firm believer in the fact that bravery makes someone inimitable.) But Jarvis isn’t fearless — he’s not someone trained in combat or espionage but rather a man whose heart is so good, he’d risk his own life if it meant protecting those he cares about from severe danger. His choice to accompany Peggy through all her missions revealed that bravery remarkably from the start. Jarvis wasn’t merely brave because he’d take the type of risks men who aren’t trained in often shy away, but he was brave in his understanding of life.
“Edwin Jarvis is perhaps one of the kindest souls to ever walk the earth, and when someone is as selflessly hardworking as Peggy Carter, she’d need someone who’d find the best ways to slow her down. And such a prodigiously profound moment happens so early with the two, it strengthens their partnership beautifully from the start. After a mission leaves Peggy in need of stitches, Jarvis chooses to remind her of the fact that no one’s capable of handling everything on their own.”
“There is not a man or woman, no matter how fit he or she may be, who is capable of carrying the entire world on their shoulders. . .From what Mr. Stark has told me, Captain Rodgers relied heavily on you. For courage, strategy, and moral guidance. You were his support. Your desire to help others is noble, but I doubt you’ll find much success unless you allow others to help you.”
Edwin Jarvis taught Peggy Carter the most important lesson that could ever be learned in life. So often we’re prone to believe that we could do it all on our own. We don’t need to disrupt anyone. We don’t want to be a burden to anyone. We don’t want to feel vulnerable enough to need people because society perceives such things as a weakness. But Jarvis’ choice to remind Peggy that it’s humanly impossible to achieve that level of heroism was perfect. Jarvis wasn’t afraid of being vulnerable, lowering his voice and bearing his heart to help this woman see that though she believes Steve Rogers can handle it all, even he needed her. What both Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter have had difficult times comprehending is the fact that unknowingly the two have ceaselessly been the other’s backbone. As much as Peggy believed in the fact that Steve could do it all, he too was under the impression that it was her he’d be lost without. And thereby, Jarvis’ choice to remind Peggy of the fact that she served the most pivotal role in Captain Rogers’ life was everything she needed and more. From that moment, it was clear that Jarvis would be the most suited to stand beside Peggy as her partner. He may not have been able to fight the fight, but emotionally and morally, he was her armor. He was the best friend she could’ve found in trying times and together they fought through the hardest obstacles in their lives. The darling Hayley Atwell said it best during the 2015 San Diego Comic Con panel: “There’s this wonderful scene that I love where Jarvis is talking to her and saying you can’t run away from people who are trying to help you and you realize in that moment that he sees her vulnerability and that in putting up this wall from having lost Steve, she’s scared of letting other people in and Jarvis is that person who’s kind of like a kindred spirit who taps her on the should and tells her she’s not alone.” The friend that often comes into our lives at a time we least expect them tends to be the one we learn most from. The friend who hears us in our silence is the one who’ll often understand us best — the growth that’s experienced from their perpetual presence is undoubtedly life changing.”
There’s an abundance of love within Edwin Jarvis that I imagine has shaped many, Tony Stark for instance. And it’s that incredibly transparent love within him that allows him to be an effortless light in the lives of those he cares for. Jarvis’ love is so visibly bare, those in his path never once doubt it. How could they ultimately doubt it when the man makes up words such as “Jarvelous.” Jarvis is, in every sense of the word, one of the greatest souls to grace our television screen, if he weren’t so fervently loving, he wouldn’t risk his life for people. He wouldn’t have compassion towards them — he’d silently do his job. However, his choice to be a friend speaks incredibly highly of the love that’s within radiating the type of light that everyone could easily be reminded of in their lives. It’s not surprise that he’d have such a profound place in the lives of the Starks — there aren’t many people in the world that would put up with Howard Stark’s shenanigans. And if we get into the love he openly showcases towards his wife, Ana Jarvis, I’ll never shut up.
James D’Arcy’s work as Edwin Jarvis is unparalleled — week after week, I was floored with the innate humor and bravery that was projected. There could never be another Edwin Jarvis — there could never be another character so unique. It’s in the way he walks, talks, and acts — Jarvis is something else. Truly, there are very few characters who leave such profound impacts in a matter of 18 episodes, and never once do we doubt why he’s so special. As mentioned numerous times above, Jarvis isn’t the average superhero, but his willingness to fight –no matter how unsuccessful– and his wisdom in understanding’s life’s greatest struggles showcase the rarest type of bravery. A character whose kindness is truly unmatched and for whom words will never do justice.