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Why Sharon Carter Is the MCU Version of Star Trek’s Beverly Crusher

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What’s next for Sharon Carter? The question is being asked in the wake of her replacement as the lead antagonist in the forthcoming Captain America: New World Order. Originally serving as a counterpart to Steve Rogers, she has lacked clear direction since he left the picture. The Marvel Cinematic Universe appears stumped on how to handle her, much as another franchise has long grappled with how to feature the equally independent and competent chief medical officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D.

Sharon Carter’s plight is not unlike that of Star Trek‘s Dr. Beverly Crusher, who was often on life support from a character development standpoint on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Much more could have been done to breathe life into a single parent who was also one of the best physicians in Starfleet, but rarely did she serve as more than a complement for Patrick Stewart’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard. The malpractice in underutilizing Gates McFadden’s warm portrayal of the good doctor was most evident in the Star Trek movies, where she was infamously upstaged by Robert Picardo’s Emergency Medical Hologram in Star Trek: First Contact. Hopefully, better opportunities lie ahead for both characters.

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From Captain America’s Ally to the Power Broker

Sharon Carter was introduced to the MCU as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent aiding Steve Rogers in saving the world from a Hydra conspiracy in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. She was loyal, strong and smart, but was still viewed as the other Agent Carter. The shadow of her great-aunt, Peggy Carter, loomed over her professionally and personally. Sharon could not compete with Peggy’s legend or her place in Captain America’s heart. In much the same vein, the capable Dr. Crusher could not escape comparisons by fans to Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy of Star Trek: The Original Series, nor could she completely win over her captain. Beverly was always peripheral in relation to Captain Picard’s devotion to his ship, crew and duties. Despite all they did for their captains, both heroes remained overlooked and overshadowed.

In an extraordinary show of devotion, Sharon Carter sacrificed her career to help Steve Rogers save his friend, Bucky Barnes, in Captain America: Civil War. Yet, while the rest of Team Cap was pardoned for violating the Sokovia Accords, Sharon was left to her own devices. Her situation was compounded when Steve Rogers left to be with Peggy at the end of Avengers: Endgame. Although she was once again immensely helpful to Bucky and Sam Wilson in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, she turned out to be the villainous Power Broker. The transformation was an ill-fated attempt to empower the character that fell flat with fans.

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Opportunities in Captain America: New World Order, Thunderbolts and Armor Wars

The surprise turn for Sharon Carter does not match her traditional comics persona and completely goes against her values. Marvel responded to the backlash by announcing that Tim Blake Nelson’s Samuel Sterns/The Leader will be New World Order‘s primary villain instead of Carter, but the welcomed reversal leaves her in limbo. It is not clear if Emily VanCamp will reprise her role in the film, as she is not currently listed on IMDb for the project. Similarly, The Next Generation often had problems finding a niche for Beverly Crusher. She was notoriously seduced by a ghost who turned out to be a parasitic alien that had victimized her family for generations in one of the relatively few instances she was featured (Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 7, Episode 14, “Sub Rosa”). Fortunately, there are signs things could turn around.

Instead of a villain, Sharon Carter would be much better suited as an anti-hero given her anti-establishment bent. She could maintain her newfound distrust of institutions while still helping the heroes in films such as New World Order, Thunderbolts and the recently reimagined Armor Wars. She would be an excellent foil for Harrison Ford’s Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. Meanwhile, Season 3 of Star Trek: Picard is being anticipated as the last hurrah of the TNG cast, with some going as far as saying it will essentially be the final film that the crew never got. The early word is that Beverly Crusher will figure prominently. Sharon Carter and Beverly Crusher have both been marginalized for too long, yet they each may soon find salvation and finally realize their full potential.

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