Portrayed by: Enver Gjokaj
Show: Marvel’s Agent Carter
Daniel Sousa has the kindest eyes to exist, and probably smells like musk + sandalwood mixed with benevolence, courage, and unyielding compassion. Agent Carter’s Daniel Sousa is the character so many of us fell hard for and through every episode, he proved that it’s because he’s so remarkably inimitable.
There are a number of fantastic characters that go through far more darkness than they deserve to, and while some of them allow it to consume their beings, others rise from it. They choose kindness and bravery and they pull through. Irish band The Script have a song that’s essentially written for Daniel Sousa and Peggy Carter—you cannot convince me otherwise.
Stop what you’re doing and listen to “Superheroes”now.
Daniel Sousa and the Unyielding Kindness
In the first season, we’re introduced to a man whose physical disability is used against him tirelessly in the workplace while his colleagues completely undermine the fight he pulled through in order to stand strong today. But that’s not something that darkens Daniel’s heart, for in the midst of all the ridicule he faces from his coworkers, he’s also the only man who’s willing to defend Peggy Carter’s honor to the sexist employees of S.S.R.
Agent Daniel Sousa is the only one who recognizes that a person’s value isn’t measured by their gender or physical capabilities, but rather their heart and the willingness to fight the good fight. And because of this belief, Daniel Sousa saw straight through Peggy Carter, choosing to treat her as the honorable, strong woman that she is.
Thus, as a result of his steadfast kindness towards her, we were able to see straight through to his heart. We were able to understand that this is a man who’s gone through his fair share of heartaches, but he has time and time again chosen to allow the tragedies in his life to strengthen him.
Daniel’s gentle spirit in spite of the hardships he’s faced continued to make him indescribably special, but most importantly, deserving to be praised for his hard work. Daniel isn’t afraid of a fight as long as he knows it’s one he could risk, but where need be with people, he’s gentle and warm.
It’s the people for whom credit doesn’t matter who deserve it most, and Daniel is the prime example of one of those characters.
Pushing Back and Pushing Forward
By no means do I intend to turn this into an article focusing on his relationship with Peggy Carter (because we’ll have a Relationship Deep Dive for that), but considering we don’t know much about his family, she is the only real connection we have to distinguishing what a kind person he is. (Even with Violet, he was absolutely precious.)
Arguments have often been made by people on-screen and off that Daniel Sousa just isn’t suited to be the man standing by her side, but the reality is the exact opposite. We must not forget that the Steve Rogers she fell in love with wasn’t infused with super-serum or known to the world as Captain America.
Peggy is the kind of woman who admires bravery and goodness above everything else, and the two men she’s had profound attachments to have possessed those qualities acutely. And because of the compassion Daniel has shown to her when everyone else doubted her abilities, he’s proven to be the kindred spirit deserving to stand by her side.
When I was writing Agent Carter episode reviews, talking about Daniel’s similarities to Steve became a favorite topic of discussion because if we recall, in the first season, Agent Krzeminski states that: “no woman would trade the red, white, and blue shield for an aluminum crutch” without realizing that Peggy Carter fell in love with the man behind the shield. (He’s also an abliest piece of sh!t, but we’re here to focus on Daniel, not the forgettable characters.)
Daniel Sousa is a hero in every sense of the word, but he doesn’t try to be. He fights the honorable battles in front of him. He pushes back on the words spoken about him and he pushes forward to solve the problems. While everyone’s busy questioning or mocking or fooling, Daniel is doing the work. Captain America may be the hero the world knows, but in the end, it all comes down to Steve Rogers’ choices.
So many other characters were given the credit that Daniel deserved, but at the end of the day, the people who mattered knew. And at the end of the day, Daniel did things not for credit, but because honor meant more to him than praise.
The Choices that Matter
In “Hollywood Ending” when the group is arguing over who should manually turn off the rift machine, Daniel makes the choice to quietly go for it while everyone else decides. And that kind of bravery is to be commended for in the end, he made the heroic choice without a second thought. He chose to be selfless.
In spite of his disability, Daniel has been irrevocably brave—he may no longer be in combat, but there’s still a soldier inside of him and that soldier will do anything in his power to save the day. In spite of the way he’s perceived by his coworkers, Daniel Sousa operates just like a soldier—fighting honorably and diligently.
He’s a man who’s steadfast to his word no matter the consequences, for if he believes something is just, even if his subordinates tell him otherwise, he’ll follow the path he believes is most noble. He promised to stand by Peggy’s side and he did so to the very end, siding with her, consoling her, and being the strength she needed when she was at her lowest.
Daniel’s goodness is a direct result of his transparency—the choice to be both vulnerable and brave. The choice to be sincere in whatever task he’s assigned and the choice to remind viewers that our bodies need to be taken care of. As someone who’ll never be able to walk without a crutch, he knows what it’s like to have gratitude for the little things, and when Peggy’s body gives out on her, he’s there to remind her that rest is trivial.
As an agent, it’s hard for someone like Peggy to slow down, but Daniel is proof of the fact that sometimes, in order to make it to the end, we need to listen to our bodies when they speak. Additionally, when it comes to Peggy, Daniel’s choice to always respect her agency spoke incredibly highly of his character, for in a world where people bossed her around for lunch orders, he was the one to validate her choices. He was the one to remind her of the fact that he’s always on her side, but at the same time, he’s there to look after her, and he needs her to occasionally look after herself.
Cue the tears every time I remember him declaring that he’d sleep better if she stopped pushing him away when it came down to their missions.
Transparency as a Superpower
Daniel Sousa is a man who’s never shied away from his emotions or the truth behind his actions—he took every opportunity he could to be honest with a woman very few viewed as significant because he understood that human beings deserved rightful treatment at all times. And his transparency was even present through his jokes, the choice to consistently treat people as equals in spite of his status as a Chief, whether it was Peggy or any of her friends, Daniel Sousa was good to them all by showing respect and resilience where it was needed.
The unfair treatment towards him could have broken him, but Daniel never stopped striving for the bigger fights that went unnoticed. He never stopped trying.
At the end of the day, his heart was his greatest asset, and his honor was his strength. No man in S.S.R could match his level of prominence, for instead of viewing people with kindness and dignity, they undermined them.
Furthermore, we can’t possibly end this deep dive without giving a hearty round of applause to Enver Gjokaj whose performances were excellent on every level. Gjokaj’s expressions easily spoke a thousand words, ceaselessly reminding us of the profound adoration that runs through Daniel’s veins. And when he wasn’t engulfed with worry or admiration for the girl, he was charming in his humorous approach to life threatening matters. Gjokaj brought endless life to the character, and I’m certain that if the series continued, we’d see him grow even more strong as an actor.
There are a number of things that Agent Carter has done right, and its authentic portrayal of real characters, with real human emotions was one of those things. And Daniel Sousa was one of those characters. He was flawed, he was hurt, he was kind. He could be vulnerable, he could be brave. He could be filled with absolute rage, and he could be filled with profound love.
Through Sousa’s eyes we were able to see unwavering kindness—it’s an ongoing thing between my friends and I, but his kind eyes won us over from the very first episode. The sincerity in his expressions and the vulnerability that managed to bring light back into Peggy’s life was everything.
Daniel Sousa was captivating and compassionate while carrying a great deal on his shoulders as he smiled his way through life. A scarred soldier who’s so much more than the trauma or broken spirit. He’s a superhero—a man who’s silently improving the lives around him through empathy and innate sincerity. Day by day doing everything in his might to live as honorably as he can.