It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go. Take a look at the Tracksuit gang, it’s action-packed once again. With Pizza Dogs and arrows that explooode…
We Marvel fans have been feasting real good this year. After the success of “WandaVision”, “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier”, “Loki”, and “What If…?” on Disney+, we couldn’t be happier to get hot with one more series to round up the year.
So, as of now, we’re in a holiday mood and ready to hit some targets with “Hawkeye”, which debuts later today and we’ve got everything to get you primed up before you watch the series.
Marvel Studios’ “Hawkeye”, set two years after the Battle for Earth, sees the former Avenger set foot on the Big Apple. And yes, he’s on a mission… to spend the holidays with his family. However, when the ghost of Christmas past figuratively pays a visit, the famed archer will have to take up his arms and be the reluctant hero once again. New friends, new foes, new targets, and new bows…
Helmed by Rhys Thomas and directing duo Bert and Bertie, “Hawkeye” will be the second MCU outing to be set during the holidays. The series features a stellar cast including the likes of Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Zahn McClarnon, and newcomer Alaqua Cox.
While Hawkeye might have been a mainstay in this universe for a long time, there is still much to unpack in terms of the character and his new opponents. So, we’re gonna grab some arrows, get to the shooting range, and wrap all of it up in a nice little bow for ya!
THE EYES AND EARS OF THE HAWK
Like Thor, Loki, and Bucky, 2021 marks the year where a few MCU mainstays celebrate a decade of onscreen gratitude. And that is no exception for the Arch-veng-er. Clint Barton made his silver screen debut in 2011’s “Thor”, where he was featured as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent aiming his arrows at Odinson. Of course, he went on to play the character for four more MCU features, which frankly feels a little scarce in retrospect.
Regardless, it wasn’t until 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” that Hawkeye felt more integral to the team. Introducing Laura Barton (Linda Cardellini) and his kids was a necessary step in getting fans to care more about Clint’s personality and character. Jeremy Renner said this of his character: “Clint Barton is one of the original six Avengers – and everyone aside from Clint and Natasha has a superpower. That alone establishes a kind of everyman quality, but then you throw in the fact that he has family and changes diapers all while slinging arrows, and I think it redefines what a Super Hero can be.”
Indeed, this plotline would continue to drive the character throughout the MCU right until his last appearance in “Avengers: Endgame“, where audiences were gasping at the horrifying sight of Hawkeye losing his family within the opening scene. In the five years between the snap and the blip, Clint Barton assumed a vigilante role as he assumed a darker Ronin moniker.
Says Renner, “He lost his whole family in the blip, and then he took his pain and rage and sadness out on every bad guy on the planet. Everyone dealt with those losses in a different way—Clint went full-on vigilante. Justified or not, it’s a giant weight on him because he knew he was going outside the moral code of what he is. That’s where we start the series—things that happened in the past catch up to him.”
While we only saw a brief moment of Clint’s viciousness in “Endgame”, his solo operation has been taking down criminal organisations and disrupting mob bosses around the globe. His purpose at that point in time was to just vent his anger out on everyone due to the immense loss he experienced. Of course, he became one of the essential pieces of the Time Heist as he tested the Quantum Suit, went to Vormir, and soon played his role in keeping the Infinity Stones away from Thanos’ forces.
Of course, the problem here is that both Clint and crime survived. Thus, any surviving mobsters must have been reeling from the defeats and now want him dead. It will definitely be an all-out war with the number of hitmen going after the archer.
One new development for Clint is that he will be losing his sense of hearing in one ear and will be sporting a hearing aid in the series. Now, he has indeed lost that sense in the comics before and there have been multiple origins as to how it happened. One suggested that the battles he had over the years took a toll on his eardrums, whilst others attempted to explicitly show Clint getting stabbed in the ears.
While it remains to be seen as to how Renner’s version will handle this feature, it will certainly set up some stakes as to how the character is handled. Clint is a natural archer in the field but what happens when you take away an important element that he utilises so much while fighting?
Speaking of his character’s new hurdle, Jeremy expressed his excitement in being able to adapt this aspect of the character, stating that it was an obstacle at times but also could be an asset. “I thought it was just a really wonderful thing because it was part of Clint’s character in the comics and has found a way to make it a truthful entry point for his life and how it affects him. There is a wonderful vulnerability that ties into other characters in a fun, negative and positive manner.”
THE COMMON DENOMINATOR
Now, it’s not a secret that “Hawkeye” will take a piece of its inspiration from the comics, specifically the David Aja/Matt Fraction run. Said run is a popular title, and has been acclaimed by fans and critics alike for helping redefine the character for modern audiences. Everything from the show’s title card, opening credits, and keyframes are brimming with references to the comic. Even the Tracksuit Mafia – a ridiculously titled gang of which its members’ vocabulary is almost limited to the word “BRO” – is part of the series.
In the source material, Clint Barton has gone solo. He’s taken his life away from the bustle and glamour of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. There’s no alien invasion. Ultron is not taking over the universe. There is no demon tearing through the streets. The main focus is on the life, the street-level stuff, that Clint goes through; the ups-and-downs of a hero and whatever else comes along with that ride. It’s a more grounded take on what the archer has been considering the fact that he’s led a variation of the Avengers at one point.
What’s great about the Fraction/Aja outing is that you do not have to digest 20 runs of Avengers comics to enjoy Hawkeye’s journey. Its 22 issues serve a contained narrative for anyone to enjoy. It’s fun, explosive, makes use of its humour to good effect, with a certain simplistic artistic style. It asks questions like “what if Clint had to worry about his neighbours getting evicted from a nearby apartment?”
So, of course, Marvel Studios intends to give the Avenger who has been through it all the same treatment. Have him not call in any superhero friends. Just have him chill and be the street-level good man that he is.
Indeed, when asked about the show’s main source of inspiration, “Hawkeye” director Rhys Thomas commented that he was extremely lucky to have such rich source material to lean on. He shared:
“I think that specific tone that Fraction run has is a real linchpin. And, ultimately, it’s funny. But again, as it’s also intimate in this amazing character study. I think it just handles those elements so well. There were lots of moments that felt too good not to reference and touch on. It just defines these guys and this relationship.”
“Hawkeye” will be introducing a fan-favourite in the form of Kate Bishop, a skilled archer who also goes by the name Hawkeye in the comics. The character was introduced in the pages of Young Avengers #1 back in 2005 with very humble yet explosive origins. However, her will and tough demeanour made her one of the group’s vital components, taking down villains with nothing but her wit and skill.
One interesting fact is that Hailee Steinfeld, who plays the character, did not have to audition for the role. It was just a matter of accepting that call from Kevin Feige because Marvel had set their minds on Hailee from the beginning.
To step into the role of the archer, however, required extensive and varied training. Steinfeld had to attend archery lessons and was introduced to the mechanics of holding the bow and learning how to change limbs. Hailee also noted that she never fired an arrow on set but it was all to maintain a certain authenticity for her scenes.
“A bow is a weapon without any arrows, and I had to learn how to fight with just that,” Hailee states. “I started getting into exercises and circuit training that would help me with those muscles because if you’ve never shot a bow and arrow before, you are sore in places you never knew you could be sore in.”
Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop makes a perfect complement for Clint. The former is especially enthusiastic when she sees the Avenger because she has wanted to be like him ever since she was a kid. So when Kate meets up with the icon late one night in the middle of New York City, the 22-year-old has a bit of a fan moment.
Full of rookie sensibilities, she’s all fired up for the ride with a deep desire to prove herself in the field, which is why she confidently dons a Ronin costume to fight bad guys, much to Clint’s chagrin. Fortunately, her sprouting green bean energy is the comedy foil to Clint Barton which makes her extremely likeable.
However, it isn’t all a story of rainbows as Clint realises that Kate, who is not much older than his daughter, is in a calamitous stance. And he HAS to do something about that before he makes it home to his family for Christmas.
“I think he sees a lot in her,” says Jeremy Renner. “I mean, at first, she’s a real pain in the butt. But he learns to have a lot of respect and adoration for her, and then teach her and protect her. Their relationship shifts dramatically from ‘I can’t stand this kid’ to ‘I want to take care of this kid.’ The intersection of those two characters is a big part of what this show is about.”
Fans can note that this is just the beginning for Kate Bishop. Barring extraordinary circumstances, Hailee Steinfeld’s time in the MCU will not be brief as she is still young. Keyword. Young.
Going back to her to the pages of her origin, it’s extra plausible that Marvel Studios is building toward assembling the Young Avengers on-screen. Several key members have already popped up or are yet to be introduced in an upcoming project. Elijah Bradley aka The Patriot was seen in “Falcon and the Winter Soldier“. Kid Loki was in “Loki”. America Chavez will be one of the elements in “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness”. And now, with the introduction of Kate Bishop, it seems even more likely that we will be witnessing the budding group come together in the future.
We’re extremely fortunate… no… lucky to have a new canine within our midst. Indeed, Hawkeye’s popular companion from the comics will be leaping to the screen and will seemingly bring some pizza to the party.
First introduced in Fraction’s run, the golden retriever originally went by the name Arrow and belonged to one of the members of the Tracksuit Mafia. However, the mob turned on their companion dog after it attacked them while they were fighting Clint. In the chaos, it was run over by a vehicle and lost its left eye. Seeing this, Clint takes the poor dog in as his own and calls it “Lucky”.
Here’s where it gets interesting. There is an issue during the Fraction/Aja run that told a story entirely from Lucky’s point of view. During that issue, it’s revealed that “Lucky” doesn’t think that it would be called Lucky, but rather “Pizza-Dog”, due to its affinity for the Italian dish.
It would surely be interesting to explore parts of the show from Lucky’s point of view especially since it would make for some cute and endearing scenes. Nevertheless, Lucky is extremely loyal to Clint and can be seen in certain battles fighting alongside the Avenger. All in all, we’re just hoping we get to yell for some:
LIVE OR DIE, BY THE SWORD
“Better Call Saul’s” Tony Dalton will be playing be joining the fray and playing Jacques Duquesne, otherwise known as Swordsman.
In the comics, Jacques Duquesne was a circus performer. Most of his acts showcased his ability to throw everything from knives, swords, and other sharp objects.
During one carnival, Jacques found a young Clint Barton and trained him to become a circus performer as well. They both thrived with each other’s company. However, it was not meant to last.
After a series of gambling debts led to him robbing the paymaster, the duo split up with the elder moving on to commit more crimes. It was only later that Swordsman was given a second chance by Iron Man, and thus became a member of the Avengers.
As the name suggests, Swordsman is a master with the blade and an excellent combatant. Combined with his athleticism and pure swordsmanship, he is a force to be reckoned with.
Besides, at one point during his criminal run, Swordsman was granted a special sword from The Mandarin. Adapted from Makluan technology, the advanced blade could project energy beams, flames and disintegrating rays. We sure wouldn’t want to be knighted by Swordsman.
The introduction of Jacques Duquesne in the MCU would provide some much-needed backstory to Clint Barton. One particular aspect of the archer that has not yet been explored is his childhood. Having him in the series would be an opportunity to delve into that era while providing some context as to how Clint gains his sharpshooter abilities.
Who knows? We could even see them don the comic-accurate purple suits! Now, that would be all sorts of rad.
While not officially confirmed for the series, it was revealed that the character played by Fra Fee is named Kazi, which could very well be short for Kazimierz Kazimierczak aka the Clown. It’s easy to interpret The Clown as Marvel’s version of The Joker, but he certainly isn’t quite the same. The Clown is a relatively new villain, one that first appeared in Fraction/Aja’s storyline, but definitely tied into Hawkeye’s mythos.
Surviving a childhood tragedy, Kazimierz takes on the name of The Clown and becomes a mercenary who works for the Tracksuit Draculas. And he does his job with extreme brutality; slashing, burning, choking, and shooting his victims with extreme prejudice. Now, with Clint Barton on the crosshairs of the mafia, Kazimierz is hired to take down the archer.
In the comics, The Clown does not have any powers. Nevertheless, he is an effective psychological match for the Avenger, even defeating him at one point. By uncovering his dark past, he exposes an unseen vulnerability and proceeds to take down the Hawk. Indeed, without Kate Bishop’s help, Clint would not have survived his deadly advances.
Having the Clown as part of the equation may prove to be deadly for the live-action version as well. Due to the mystery surrounding his appearance, this one is not going to be a joke.
POSE… FOR THE WIDOW
Vengeance is here, and she’s not a poser.
Audiences were first introduced to Yelena Belova, in Scarlett Johansson’s solo outing earlier this year. The adopted sister of Natasha Romanoff, Yelena went through the same Red Room process that her sister did. Under Dreykov’s command, she was transformed into a killer assassin at a very tender age.
Now, spoilers ahead for “Black Widow”. In the post-credits stinger of said movie, Yelena visits the gravestone of her fallen sister after the tragic events of “Endgame”. Enter Julia Dreyfus’ Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who tells her that she has a new assignment and that it is to hunt down Natasha’s killer. She hands Yelena a tablet. And on it is Clint’s face splashed across the screen.
It has been confirmed that Yelena will be in the series due to several set photos showing Florence Pugh on set. Nevertheless, Marvel has kept mum on the topic with the actors and director refusing to ruin any surprises. Jeremy even went on record to say that if he did meet Yelena in the series, it’d be over a cup of coffee. Well, Clint, that’s certainly one way to solve a misunderstanding.
Regardless, Yelena will come to blows with Clint, and it will be interesting to see how ruthless Yelena will get. She is, after all, trained as a Widow. With her skills and deadly Widow’s Bite, it will be akin to that 2012 close-quarters battle within the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. Just don’t pose for her, Clint, and you’ll be fine.
ECHOING A HAWK
Echo aka Maya Lopez, first appeared in the pages of Daredevil #9 in 1999 and has maintained her status as a supporting character for The Man Without Fear ever since. With a distinct white handprint painted across her face, Echo has been both foe and friend to multiple Marvel comic book characters throughout her existence.
Originally appearing as more antagonistic, the Native American character came to blows with Matt Murdock after she is sent to hunt him down but soon becomes aware of her errors and soon strives to atone for her past. Echo has also taken on the Ronin mantle and she is in fact, the first person to hold that title. The Ronin identity was adopted after Maya faces an identity crisis and refuses to join the Avengers because of her dark past.
While Echo is deaf, she more than makes up for the lack of it by having the gift to replicate other people’s movements. Another character who has the ability to do so is Taskmaster, who was seen in this year’s “Black Widow”. Indeed, it’s time that such an ability be given some justice especially considering how underwhelming Taskmaster was in the movie.
Newcomer Alaqua Cox is set to portray the character in live-action, and we couldn’t be more inspired. Now, Alaqua is deaf and is also an amputee. Nevertheless, she has refused to let it be a limit for her. Kevin Feige and Jonathan Rhys were both very impressed with her tenacity during her audition. She had never performed before but was completely unfazed despite the various tests that were thrown at her throughout the session.
It remains to be seen what Echo’s deal is in the series especially since we know that it will eventually tie into her eponymous Disney+ spinoff. Whether she will remain antagonistic throughout the “Hawkeye” or shift into an ally by the show’s end is up to the studio. Regardless, we think there is a higher power at play as well, which brings us to our final boss…
ONE DOES NOT JUST PIN DOWN… A KING
This is just a rumour. We repeat. THIS is just a rumour. But we have significant reason to believe that it might actually be true.
Kingpin, foe of Spider-Man and frequent thorn in Daredevil’s side is a staple Marvel comics villain who has been adapted a couple of times in live-action. The first was in 1989’s TV movie, “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk”, where he was played by John Rhys-Davies. Then, came a turn in “2003’s “Daredevil”, where he was played by the late Michael Clarke Duncan. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the revitalization of Matt Murdock through the Netflix outing that Kingpin became that wonderful, menacing figure that we love to hate.
Now, the interesting thing to note here is that Echo has ties to Kingpin in the comics. And it’s a familial one. Maya Lopez, is in fact, Wilson Fisk’s adopted daughter!
When Maya’s father dies, he leaves with a dying wish that the Kingpin would take care of Maya well. And he does. He sends her to prestigious schools where she discovers her abilities. She soon becomes an assassin for him, using her photographic reflexes to wreak havoc all across town and actually take down the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.
Since Echo is in “Hawkeye”, Marvel might just be looking for ways to integrate characters from the Netflix universe and have them interact with the other heroes and villains. While it was initially believed that the Netflix outings were part of the MCU, it soon became apparent that the creators had little to no intention to cross over with the larger Marvel Universe. Iron Man could not just swoop in even though the Avengers Tower stood tall in the area. So, while “Daredevil” ran for three seasons with a majority of it taking place in Hell’s Kitchen, it largely stood on its own, only crossing over with the other Netflix Marvel properties like “The Punisher” and “Jessica Jones”.
Further adding fuel to this rumour is Vincent D’Onofrio, who played the mobster alongside Charlie Cox.
— Vincent D'Onofrio (@vincentdonofrio) November 17, 2021
The actor recently expressed his delight in the debut of the Disney+ show in a tweet. So, why now? Why choose “Hawkeye” all of a sudden? That’s because Kingpin might probably make an appearance in the show considering the character’s ties to Echo. We wouldn’t expect a full-blown appearance; just a cameo would suffice. Nevertheless, it will be an awesome addition to the ever-growing roster.
If this does materialise, it adds more credence to the idea that Marvel is revitalizing Matt Murdock and co. within this larger universe. With rumours swirling that Charlie Cox will be taking on Peter Parker’s case in “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, it would make sense if Daredevil eventually becomes a franchise in his right. There’s too much potential in having the blind attorney be the face of fear itself.
All in all, we’re just hoping the Marvel series shoots its shot with “Hawkeye” and we’ll have plenty to celebrate when things finally get festive.
The first two episodes of Marvel Studios’ “Hawkeye” will be launching its arrows on Disney+ today. Subsequent episodes debut on Wednesdays thereafter.
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