Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Endgame.
Fans of Marvel TV hoping for a character to make the jump from the small screen to the silver screen in Avengers: Endgame got their wish – but maybe not in the way most might have expected.
In a scene set in 1970, Tony Stark travels to a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. laboratory to retrieve the Tesseract – and in doing so, runs into his father Howard just before his own birth, resulting in a heart-to-heart moment of closure for the Stark men.
And then the TV cameo hits: Howard Stark gets into a car driven by none other than Edwin Jarvis, his faithful butler and former secret agent companion to Peggy Carter, Captain America’s World War 2 paramour.
It’s not much – but it’s something sort of special, not just for fans of Marvel TV, but for fans of Avengers comic books.
So who is Jarvis, and what was this cameo all about? Newsarama is at your service with the full scoop on the Avengers’ Gentleman’s Gentleman.
Earth’s Mightiest Butler
As a character, Edwin Jarvis goes all the way back to 1964’s Tales of Suspense #59, when Stan Lee and Don Heck introduced Jarvis as Tony Stark’s manservant. A former British soldier, Jarvis had served as Howard and Maria Stark’s butler for years before working for Tony – a relationship that only strengthened when Stark helped found the Avengers.
In comic book continuity, rather than Avengers Tower or the compound seen in Endgame, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes started their career headquartered in Avengers Mansion, Tony Stark’s family property which he offered the team for personal use – alongside the services of Jarvis, who quickly became Earth’s Mightiest Butler.
Since then, Jarvis has been a staple of the Avengers mythos. And though he’s rarely crossed the line into action, he’s often been at the heart of their stories. Recently, he’s been back working with the team and serving as something of a mentor to Nadia Pym, the current Wasp, who also helped develop an A.I. named J.A.R.V.I.S. to aid the aging butler.
Iron Man’s Man
Over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jarvis’ history is a little different.
Like in comic books, Jarvis was manservant to Howard and Maria Stark until his passing - a period of decades in which Jarvis not only helped raise young Tony Stark, but also served as a secret agent in the earliest days of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Following World War II, Howard Stark enlisted his SSR ally Peggy Carter’s help to clear his name of treason – and to ensure things went smoothly, Stark sent Jarvis along with Peggy to use his military training to ensure that Stark would be cleared of the charges.
After just a handful of adventures, Jarvis retired from being a secret agent, choosing instead to focus on serving the Starks and on his own family. When Jarvis passed away, Tony Stark named his A.I. assistant after his family friend in tribute.
And that’s not even the end of the story. Tony’s J.A.R.V.I.S. A.I. later formed the basis for the personality of the Vision – making Edwin Jarvis the hero’s most direct human ancestor.
From a meta perspective, Jarvis’ appearance in Avengers: Endgame fulfills a long-held wish from many Marvel fans for a TV character to jump to the MCU. Though most viewers would have likely had someone like Daredevil, Luke Cage, or Daisy Johnson make the leap, Jarvis may have been the most appropriate choice for such a cameo.
With Agent Carter, the show in which James D’Arcy played Jarvis, having been off the air for several years (and no likely return), there’s little baggage if any for Jarvis to carry into film – and no ramifications for a TV show based on what happens to him there. But Jarvis’ appearance isn’t just about leaving other potential story threads unturned for future use, he’s also one of the characters with the most direct connections to the core Avengers team, and to their history – key elements of Endgame’s plot. Jarvis has links to both Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, two of the key figures in the "Infinity Saga".
And of course, perhaps most importantly, Jarvis getting his big screen due (alongside Iron Man no less) finally brings one of the Marvel Universe’s biggest supporting characters and a core aspect of the Avengers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, directly in the realm of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
In other words, exactly where Jarvis wants to be.