Portrayed by: James D’Arcy
Show: Marvel’s Agent Carter
Edwin Jarvis is #SideKickGOALS. Go ahead, I dare you to tell me someone that’s better—I’ll wait. And listen, while I’m normally all for listening to the opinions 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, I 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.) In the midst of those exceptional two seasons, we not only got to know Peggy Carter more, but we were given the chance to get to know the Stark family’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. He’d be my suit’s A.I. too if I was a genius.
But in all seriousness, 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.
Edwin Jarvis and the Distinct Showcase of Bravery
Jarvis’ bravery isn’t the traditional kind, but that’s what makes his character so inimitable. There are enough superheroes diving head first into battle and especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Jarvis isn’t fearless. He’s not someone trained in combat or espionage, but rather a man whose heart is so pure, he’d risk his own life if it meant protecting those he cares about. His choice to accompany Peggy through all her missions revealed that distinct bravery from the start. Jarvis wasn’t brave because he’d take the type of risks men who aren’t trained in often shy away from, but he was brave in his understanding of life.
In a world full of superheroes and agents, Jarvis’ humanity showcased the kind of bravery that’s seen in the the real world. We all know someone like Jarvis, or at least we’d like to. Someone who’s willing to try even when they are afraid. Someone who’s willing to give a part of themselves just to do the right thing.
His distinct bravery often exhibited the importance of doing the right thing. He is the human embodiment of do the right thing even while it’s scary.
Kindness as a Superpower
Kindness is the most beautiful form of bravery and Edwin Jarvis is perhaps one of the kindest souls to ever walk the fictional earth. When someone is as selflessly hardworking as Peggy Carter, she’d need someone who’d find the right 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 physical fight, but emotionally, he was always 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.”
If Jarvis wasn’t as inherently kind as he is, he would not have been able to see the parts of Peggy others look passed. He would not be so inclined to help her. He wouldn’t remain as loyal to the Starks, especially to Howard.
The Transparency in His Loving Spirit
There’s an abundance of love within Edwin Jarvis that I imagine has shaped many, and Tony Stark especially. 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 when the man makes up words such as “Jarvelous?” Jarvis is, in every sense of the word, one of the greatest characters 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 be like any other butler, silently doing 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 a surprise that he’d have such a profound place in the lives of the Starks and later for Peggy. And if we get into the love he openly showcases towards his wife, Ana Jarvis, I’ll never shut up.
In choosing to love as deeply as Jarvis did, he saw people as they wanted to be seen. He saw those around him as the best versions of themselves even while they couldn’t see it themselves.
Edwin Jarvis could have easily been written off as comedic relief, but instead, he was always the beacon of hope. He was the comforting presence we all looked to when stakes got high. In a world full of espionage, he was the character whose kindness felt like home.
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 that has made Jarvis, truly something else. There are very few characters who leave such a profound impact after only 18 episodes. (Raise your hand if you also screamed at the theater when he appeared in Avengers: Endgame!) It made the film instantly better seeing him there in the 70s.
As mentioned numerous times above, Jarvis isn’t like most characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but his willingness to fight (no matter how unsuccessful), and his wisdom in understanding life’s greatest struggles showcase the rarest type of bravery. Tony Stark trusted very people as much as he trusted Jarvis and that’s a testament to just how much adoration Jarvis had shown him growing up.
If Agent Carter hadn’t been cancelled, I imagine we would have gotten so much more development for him. We would’ve seen storylines with his wife, perhaps the Starks, and even in the development of S.H.I.E.L.D.
He’s one of the most colossal figures even after death solely because of how kind and loving he’d been while alive. How often do we get to see characters like this? A character whose kindness is truly unmatched and for whom words might never do justice.