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The Untold Truth Of Marvel's Sharon Carter

Sharon Carter, alias Agent 13, is a long-time S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and one of Captain America's central love interests.  She's a scrappy, clever, and tough agent who never backs down from Cap, despite his status as a living legend. Of all the women that Steve has dated, Sharon is one of the few to truly understand him. Complicating their bond, however, is the fact that she's related to a former flame of Cap's: Peggy Carter. Plus, in true comics fashion, their story has gone to some pretty weird places involving time travel, fake deaths, and brainwashing.

In the MCU, Sharon is much less fleshed out. She's assigned to keep an eye on Steve in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as he adjusts to modern society. Her cover paints her as a nurse who lives next door. The ruse is so seamless, she has him (and Black Widow) completely fooled. Later, she breaks cover to help Cap when he goes after Nick Fury's "killer," and again when he ends up on the run in Captain America: Civil War

Eager for more info on this legendary agent? You're in luck. This is everything you never knew about Sharon Carter.

Peggy Carter: Big sister or beloved aunt?

Sharon Carter isn't the first Agent 13: Her aunt Margaret "Peggy" Carter holds that distinction. During her time as Agent 13, Peggy fights in the French resistance, falls in love with Captain America, and takes on the first iteration of HYDRA. 

Peggy is heartbroken when Cap disappears. Eventually, however, she recovers and works for various spy agencies, becomes a doctor, and eventually joins S.H.I.E.L.D. Her older brother Harrison welcomes a daughter named Sharon, and they become very close – Peggy ends up becoming Sharon's hero, in fact. Having grown up dazzled by tales of her aunt's wartime exploits, Sharon decides to join S.H.I.E.L.D. and even adopts her aunt's Agent 13 codename. 

For a time, Peggy watches over Sharon. Then, as depicted in a dramatic storyline from 1973, Peggy relapses into grief for Cap and is put into an asylum. She's so delusional that she imagines Sharon to be her kid sister, and Harrison to be her father. This strange detour is, as you might have guessed, a retcon that had to be executed because of the increasing time lag between World War II and the modern era. It turns out that Peggy is being manipulated by Doctor Faustus, but Cap rescues her and she snaps out of her delirium. Cap eventually has to let her know they can never be together, but he leaves out the part about him dating Sharon.

The adventures of Agent 13

When Captain America first meets Agent 13, she looks so much like Peggy Carter that he thinks he's hallucinating. She's on a mission for S.H.I.E.L.D., trying to prevent Batroc the Leaper from obtaining a chemical compound called Inferno 42. They reunite when she infiltrates A.I.M. and discovers their horrifying leader, MODOK. When a mysterious organization obtains a death ray, Black Panther contacts Cap for the first time, asking for help. Sharon takes out a notorious spy named Irma Kruhl and takes her place. Eventually, she saves the world from a false Baron Zemo by destroying the machine.

Sharon works frequently with Cap on cases during this era. She escapes from the Red Skull thanks to the tiny flamethrower and "powdered corrosive" she has embedded in her fingernails. She helps Cap defeat the Trapster by weakening his nasty paste formula. She takes on AIM by herself. The power of her love is enough to defeat the Red Skull's Fourth Sleeper robot.

Cap never fully embraces Sharon as a partner, however: He's always too worried about her welfare to realize what a lethal combatant she truly is. Moreover, he's still obsessed with Bucky's death at this point, and can't stand the thought of losing another partner. Of course, it doesn't help that the Red Skull kidnaps her on their first date.

A brief retirement

Both Captain America and Sharon Carter flirt with retirement on multiple occasions so that they might be together. Cap is the first to consider this, when they're first reunited. He even plans to propose to her. Then he sees a whole lot of idiots dressing up as Cap in order to replace him, and he realizes that he can't hang the shield up just yet. 

Cap tries to get Sharon to quit on multiple occasions. At first, she's resistant, but she later agrees to take an inactive role with S.H.I.E.L.D. that puts her on the sidelines. Coincidentally, this happens when Cap first starts partnering up with the Falcon. Later, Sharon regains her full-time role with S.H.I.E.L.D., as Nick Fury claims her PhD in metaphysical psychology makes her too valuable an agent to lose. Sharon is later put in charge of an all-women cadre of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents called the Femme Force: Fury shows off their training to President Richard Nixon himself.

There is a brief moment where Sharon has enough of S.H.I.E.L.D. and finally quits to be with Cap. Not long after, Cap defeats the Secret Empire and learns it's headed by a high-ranking government official. He's so disillusioned, he quits his role as Captain America. When Hawkeye talks Steve into becoming a new kind of hero, Sharon is less than enthusiastic. As she well knows, this choice puts an end to their one chance at an idyllic life together.

A death that doesn't stick

Doctor Faustus is an especially vile villain. His entire modus operandi is violating people's free will to make them his mind-slaves, and the subtle nature of his powers make him especially difficult to root out. He manipulates Peggy Carter for years, although he never learns anything of use. Then William Burnside, the twisted Captain America of the 1950s, comes under his "care." He quickly brainwashes Burnside and makes him the leader of a neo-Nazi group he calls the National Force. 

At this point, Cap and Sharon have been on-again, off-again. She's still mad at him for choosing life as Captain America over her, and is busy flirting with her neighbor, pacifist Dave Cox. Finally, Sharon returns to active duty when Cap is kidnapped and she's handed a monster-hunting case that leads her to confront Arnim Zola and the Red Skull. An identity crisis leads Cap to push Sharon away, and she acts as a S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison for the New York police in investigating the National Force.

When she goes undercover, she comes under the influence of Faustus, who makes her one of his soldiers. During a race riot that he instigates, Cap loses sight of Sharon. A news reporter later shows him footage of her going up in flames. Sharon Carter is apparently dead, and Steve Rogers is forced to create a new life. 

Sharon and Cap's unhappy reunion

Sharon's death doesn't stick. She's eventually revealed to have been assigned a deep cover mission in Europe — but something went wrong. She gets completely cut off from S.H.I.E.L.D. and ends up behind enemy lines. It takes her years to make it out, all while Captain America is sure that she's dead. 

At this point in comics canon, the super-solider serum has begun to take a toll on Cap's body: He's taken to wearing armor to keep himself propped up. Just as he's about to die, Sharon and a team whisk away his body and give him a total blood transfusion from the only other person with the serum running through his veins: Red Skull. The Skull has been inhabiting a clone of Cap's body for years, and he arranges the rescue because he needs Cap to retrieve the Cosmic Cube. 

The Cube is being held by a group of fanatics from AIM called the Kubekult, a group Sharon has infiltrated. She puts the Cube in Cap's hands, because she knows he'll make the right decisions. Cap gets trapped in the Cube with Adolf Hitler, but he triumphs, escapes, and defeats the Skull. Thus, the on-again, off-again relationship between Cap and Sharon goes back to being on. Granted, Sharon is resentful that Cap never went after her, but he tells her to direct that anger toward S.H.I.E.L.D. 

Sharon Carter, (temporary) director of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Sharon has acted as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. on a couple of different occasions. Nick Fury names her as his replacement after she completes a mission in the Savage Land with Captain America. Once again, their on-again, off-again relationship is a matter of some contention. Cap has gone moony for her once more, and even tells Sharon that he loves her as a way of snapping her out of mind control. However, just as the mission ends and Sharon starts to soften, Nick Fury shows up to rescue them and ruin the moment. This is intentional: Fury tells Sharon that he has some business to deal with and he wants her to take over as director. 

Years later, when Cap is replaced by the Cosmic Cube-generated HYDRA Cap, it's revealed that the Red Skull was behind S.H.I.E.L.D.'s initiative to use a partial Cosmic Cube to create the super-villain town of Pleasant Hill. The Skull knew that the experiment was doomed to failure, and allowed Baron Zemo to come in and wreck it. This was former S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill's project, and as such, she takes the fall for it. Evil Cap pushes to have Sharon take the role of director. Instead, Sharon recommends him for the job, with a proviso that gives him absolute power in case of emergency. Oops.

Brainwashing, murder, and time travel

After the long conflict between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark that makes up the infamous "Civil War" arc finally ends, Captain America decides to end the bloodshed by surrendering. On his way to his trial, he's gunned down by a sniper. Someone else fires three more shots into his gut. Sinthia "Sin" Schmidt, daughter of the Red Skull, corners a frantic Sharon in a hospital bathroom shortly after news of Cap's death hits the public. With a sinister smile on her face, she tells Sharon Doctor Faustus has a message for her: "Remember." 

Sharon realizes, to her horror, that she has killed Captain America. All of this mess, it turns out, is part of an elaborate brainwashing scheme perpetrated by the Red Skull and Doctor Faustus. They psychically installed a deeply hidden subconscious trigger in Sharon's mind, and used her to seemingly kill Cap. Thankfully, it turns out Cap was merely displaced in time, and Sharon gets Hank Pym and Reed Richards to bring him back. Shortly afterward, Sharon realizes that she's pregnant with Steve's baby. The Skull has big plans for the kid, but Sharon ultimately miscarries when she gets stabbed by Sin.

Sharon thrives with the Secret Avengers

After Captain America returns from his time-travel-pseudo-death, he and Sharon become closer than ever. She joins his Secret Avengers black ops team, and alongside heroes like Beast and Valkyrie, they chase the Serpent Crown to Mars, fight the Shadow Council, and uncover the Thule Society, a Nazi legacy group.

Sharon, Cap, Fury, and Dum Dum Dugan all take a moment to mourn Peggy Carter, who finally passes away of old age. At the funeral, a sniper starts shooting at them. They quickly learn that the assailant is the World War II hero Codename: Bravo. Bravo was lost on an extradimensional mission when his link to reality, Jimmy Jupiter, was knocked unconscious by a HYDRA agent. Bravo aligns himself with a new version of HYDRA led by a new Queen and Baron Zemo. Cap becomes lost in the extradimensional Land of Nowhere, but Sharon, alongside Fury and the Falcon, rescues him

While their lives are full of danger during this period, Sharon and Steve do actually get to share a life together for a short, weird, and wonderful moment.

Trapped In Dimension Z

In one of the weirdest Cap sagas ever, a mysterious subway car arrives at an abandoned station in New York. Cap gets on but Sharon doesn't, as it only has room for one. Thus, Cap is whisked away to the brutal Dimension Z, an alien reality that Cap's old enemy Arnim Zola, the "bio-fanatic," has conquered. Zola seeks to remove the super-soldier serum from Cap, in order to give it to his children. Oh, and also, Sharon proposes marriage right before this all goes down.

Cap spends the next dozen years trying to survive, raising Zola's son Ian as his own. He creates an alliance with a local tribe of monsters opposed to Zola and eventually leads a rebellion. Sharon manages to track him down, as only 30 minutes have passed on Earth. Though Zola's daughter Jet Black switches sides to help our heroes, Sharon is forced to sacrifice herself to save Cap and the Earth.

However, Sharon isn't dead. She takes over for Cap in Dimension Z and raises Ian as her own son. When she is finally rescued from Dimension Z by the Falcon, she and Steve reunite. For a while, they find peace and happiness together as they coordinate the Avengers, but refrain from going on field missions.

Sharon Carter brings down the Secret Empire

The "Secret Empire" event sees Sharon step down as S.H.I.E.L.D. director because she thinks Steve Rogers is the right man for the job. Unfortunately for her and everyone else, a young, sentient Cosmic Cube named Kobik has been brainwashed by the Red Skull and rewrites reality such that Steve Rogers has always been a deep-cover HYDRA agent. In this reality, the younger Baron Helmut Zemo is his best friend growing up.  He secretly organizes a space invasion and an attack on New York, creating a state of emergency during which he is awarded total control of all armed forces.

Evil Cap is still in love with Sharon, however, and gives her special treatment. He tries wining and dining her, then takes her out to a "HYDRA Youth" science fair where they see kids work on surveillance equipment for hunting down Inhumans. When Evil Cap survives an assassination attempt by Black Widow and starts to doubt himself, he turns to Sharon for reassurance. Instead, she almost stabs him in the throat with a wooden stake

Evil Cap puts her in a prison cell and has Doctor Faustus brainwash her. Unbeknownst to Faustus, however, Sharon has studied his voice and techniques and is now immune to them. She poisons him and knocks him out. Finally, she uses Evil Cap's passwords and brings down his HYDRA strike fleet.

Sharons of many worlds

While Sharon Carter has had quite a life in the reality we know as Earth-616, there are thousands of other multiverses and other fates. For example, on Earth-8342, Sharon didn't fake her death at the hands of the National Force. Instead, she settled down with Steve Rogers and had a family. Thirty years later, the aging Red Skull kidnapped Sharon and their two sons, who'd been trying to convince Cap to retire. The Red Skull revealed that he had a son, who killed his father trying to cause an explosion. Cap defused that bomb, and Sharon and the boys gave Cap their blessing to keep going. 

In the Ultimate Universe (also known as Earth-1610), Sharon Carter is a relatively young, red-headed SHIELD agent partnered with Jimmy Woo investigating individuals with unnatural mutations — in other words, people like Spider-Man and his rogues' gallery. She's tough-talking and wisecracking, but she also has a deep moral center. At one point, Spider-Man saved her from the murderous Sandman, and while she tolerated his presence (mostly because Nick Fury said he was off limits), in her debriefing after the incident, she said, "Destroy them and end this!" condemning those who were "playing around with God's plan."

Perhaps the weirdest Sharon of all is Sharon Stewart of Earth-697064, a stand-in for the character who appeared in the 1990 Captain America movie. The daughter of Cap's ex, she fought the Italian Red Skull alongside him.