SPOILER WARNING: The first two episodes of Hawkeye, which debuted November 24, are discussed in detail below.
Hawkeye debuted on Disney+ this past week, adding a new holiday-soaked buddy action-comedy story to the MCU, as Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) found their worlds colliding in the days leading up to Christmas.
Longtime Marvel Studios executive and Hawkeye Execitive Producer Trinh Tran and Rhys Thomas — who directed the first two episodes, along with the show’s episode six season finale — spoke to Fandom about what was set up in those initial hours, including the debut of a major new MCU player, a murder mystery, Hawkeye comic book writer Matt Fraction’s contributions, and more…
The second episode of Hawkeye introduced a notable new character in its final minute, as we got our first glimpse at Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez, AKA Echo (backed by a great Depeche Mode song). Echo will be getting her own Disney+ spinoff series, so there are clearly big plans for her.
Trinh Tran cautioned against calling Maya “Echo” just yet though, noting, “Well, she’s Maya Lopez in this series. We’re introducing a brand new character into the MCU. Maya Lopez in the comics is amazing, and Alaqua brought in a really cool version of Maya here.”
In the comics, the deaf Maya was raised by the Kingpin and initially introduced as a misguided antagonist, who would go on learn the error of her ways and become a hero. An incredible fighter, she has mimic abilities similar to Taskmaster. On Hawkeye, Maya is seemingly the leader of the Tracksuit Mafia, who have captured Clint and Kate, but we don’t know any other specifics regarding her motivations or backstory here yet – even as rumors and speculation swirls around possibly bringing Kingpin into the series.
Said Tran, “Obviously, I can’t get into the details of how she’s integrated into the plot here, but she’s very formidable and is a big adversary to our heroes having to deal with the situation that they get themselves in. She kicks ass and she is pretty incredible. Alaqua trained so hard to bring this character to life and I think she did justice with with the performance that she has on screen.”
Thomas described introducing Maya/Echo as, “So thrilling. Obviously, I get the joy of bringing in Kate Bishop, but it’s also exciting to see Alaqua as Echo come to life. To watch that character emerge has been great. I had the joy of reading Alaqua and bringing her to the [Marvel Studios] guys and so watching her from day one to having her own show is thrilling and I think this show is a nice lead up to that.”
MYSTERIES AND SWORDS
Hawkeye has quickly sets up a bit of a murder mystery element, as Kate discovered the body of Armand Duquesne III (Simon Callow), the uncle to Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton) — her mother Eleanor’s fiance — in the show’s first episode.
Said Thomas, of including this in the story, “I’m a big fan of a whodunit. It’s an aspect of Kate’s story, obviously, and it’s sort of her curiosity that pulls her into this little tale and adds this layer of tension on her side of the story. I can’t speak to how twisty-turny things are gonna get, but it’s a nice texture within the show that we get to play with.”
By the end of the second episode, Kate’s prime suspect for who killed Armand is Jack – though we can’t forget the confrontation Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) had with Armand too, and the dead man seemingly having issues with her before he met his end. Now that people are seeing Hawkeye and theorizing about all of this, Thomas laughed, “it’s really fun watching people jump to conclusion, so have at it!” Whoever killed Armand, it probably won’t be someone we don’t meet until the show’s finale, as Thomas joked, “It could also be one of those late in the day characters you’ve never met, just coming in… which always bugs the hell out of me.”
Said Tran, of this part of the show, “Part of the aspect of being able to move this from the feature world into the series world is that we have six hours to really explore the plot and the story and how it unravels, so there is that a little bit of that criminal conspiracy element that we put into it and to make the audience question ‘What’s happening? Who’s involved? What’s going on?’ That hopefully is exciting, and you’re anticipating what’s to come for the next episode in order to sort of put the pieces together.”
Jack is based on the Marvel Comics character the Swordsman and while the live-action incarnation shares the same proficiency with a sword, there’s no apparent history between he and Clint here, vs. the comics where he actually helped train Clint to fight as a young man, among other notable differences.
Said Tran, “We always use the characters as inspiration and then once we’re interested in pulling them into the MCU, it’s asking how are they going to fit into the MCU in the appropriate way? We won’t necessarily just pull those characters and make it identical to the way that the comics have portrayed them. This is exactly what Jack Duquesne is like. It’s got to fit in and we see what makes sense in terms of the character interaction he or she is involved in and what fits into the story in a better way as a part of MCU rather than a comic. Jack Duquesne, as you’ve seen in the first two episodes, is fairly different from how the comics have been portrayed but I think that what’s really interesting, is the doors that opens in terms of how we want to bring the character to life.”
KATE’S LEARNING CURVE
The Kate Bishop we met in the first two episodes is phenomenally skilled and exuberant but very green when it comes to actual superhero situations and ends up making a lot of mistakes as a result – not the least of which is ruining Clint’s plan to get captured by the Tracksuit Mafia to get information, and then getting herself captured alongside him in the process.
As Thomas explained, about Kate’s growing pains as a superhero, “That was really fun in mapping out an arc for Kate. She’s someone who kind of set this guy as her role model and went through the motions to become a version of that.” However Thomas noted, in terms of what life is really like for Clint, for Kate, “It’s misunderstood, and the stakes that she’s been involved in up to now have not been a match for this. Part of the journey for both of them is learning from one another, but she’s got a ways to go when we meet her at the beginning of the show and Clint is the guy to maybe set her straight.”
Said Tran, “What’s fun about their dynamic and especially for somebody young like her is she’s coming into the world where she has less experience. Clint has all the experience, is wiser, and has been through the trenches in terms of saving the world multiple times, and here comes somebody who absolutely idolizes him, but also has so much confidence in what she does, which is amazing. But at the same time, that confidence can sometimes be shattered by the fact that she doesn’t have the experience that he does, and she makes mistakes. And that is explored a little bit in what you see, and you’ll see that a part of that is really forming that bond between the two of them, that there are things that he can teach her, and vice versa, there are things that he learns from her too. And I think that’s what makes it really special in the comics that we pulled into the story that we have in here.
Clint has tried to put his Avengers days behind him more than once, only to be pulled back in. While he ends up helping Kate out, notably, in the first two episodes of Hawkeye, he didn’t pick up a bow to use himself – yet.
When it comes to this reluctant gunfighter aspect of the character, Thomas exlaimed, “I love that! I love that type of character. Clint, he’s a guy who’s been through it. He’s fought Thanos! So he’s not going to just willy nilly pick up a weapon and he’s not going to jump into a fight just because. He’s a guy who understands the stakes and will sit back until he’s absolutely needed. And so there’s definitely an aspect of that reluctance that’s fun to play with, because it also just speaks, again, to responsibility versus naivete, where Kate will just leap in both feet forward.”
Said Tran, of Clint inevitably being brought back into the fight, “He just can’t help himself. Every time he wants to [retire], something happens and pulls him back. He is one of the very few MCU heroes with a family and I think family is so central to Clint’s character. He is all about spending time with his family, especially after Endgame when he lost his them for five years and took on a different persona. He then got them back, but he lost that time and he’s trying to make up for it. So the family element is very important to Clint and all he wants to do is really just spend a holiday with them and then he gets sucked into something he’s trying to get out of and every day that he’s missing time with his family is a count down to the day that he potentially might be missing Christmas with them.”
Notable among the credits for Hawkeye is Matt Fraction as a Consulting Producer. The Hawkeye comic book series Fraction created with artist David Aja — which centered on the duo of Clint and Kate — is a huge inspiration for the Disney+ series, introducing key elements like Lucky the Pizza Dog and the Tracksuit Mafia that are used in the show. Fraction, notably, is one of the first Marvel Comics creators to have this sort of Producer credit on an MCU project, beyond Stan Lee’s Executive Producer credit.
Said Tran, of working with Fraction directly, “We knew, when we wanted to pull from and use that inspiration from his comics, that we had to get him involved and so he came into the writers room. We talked about certain elements, certain parts of the story, and he read through all of our materials. He was a big part of the team in helping out and making sure that that we were getting the style and tone that we were after, because that was what we really found interesting and different compared to everything else that we’ve done. He was a joy to work with. He’s such a smart man.”
Tran also revealed a planned cameo for Fraction that they were unable to do, explaining, “At one point, he actually was going to be a Tracksuit Mafia [member] on set. He actually unfortunately couldn’t make it to us, but it would have been pretty amazing!”
Said Thomas, of Fraction, “His run of comics is so great and so well written and thought out and funny and absurd and kind of the perfect approach to Clint’s character. That was my takeaway when I read it, was if I was going to do this, this is the way I’d want to do it, getting to use that as a source material. Then to actually get to discuss it with Matt has been amazing. We would email and he’d share playlists with me. He loves these characters. Getting to hear him talk about where these ideas came from was a thrill, just as a fan.”
New episodes of Hawkeye debut Wednesdays on Disney+.