For Marvel fans who’ve long felt that their favourite arrow-slinging Avenger had been sidelined throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) journey thus far, we’re now getting an entire six-part original series dedicated to the overachieving Clint Barton.
No, seriously, if you need a battle statistic to back how truly an ‘MVP’ he is, consider this Reddit post: “The Avengers are 7-0 in battles that include Hawkeye. They are 0-4 in battles either against him or without him.” This, from a guy with neither cosmic powers nor a drop of super soldier serum. Enough said, he’ll take a bow now.
Played by Jeremy Renner, who described his broody character as having a “veneer of grumpiness in this resting face” during a recent Hawkeye press conference ahead of the show’s premiere, Hawkeye, the original Avenger, is back to grace our screens, and debuts 24 November (Wednesday) on streaming platform Disney+.
While we can’t argue with Renner’s fitting description of his character, we’d go for a different take; he’s pragmatic, to the point, and if we recall the iconic scene in Sokovia with Wanda right, low-key inspiring. Set in post-blip New York City, it’s about time we got to dwell on, and delve more into the original Avenger — who’s probably the most relatable as well.
“Clint Barton is one of the original six Avengers—and everyone aside from Clint and Natasha has super powers,” said Renner. “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.”
The Hawkeye series also sees the debut of fan-favourite character Kate Bishop, a 22 year-old young woman and fellow skilled archer, played by Hailee Steinfeld. The actress told us that Hawkeye is “someone she [Kate] has idolised her whole life”, much to the disdain of his solo-laner tendencies. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances though, they end up reluctantly teamed up to thwart criminal forces, establishing a new partnership which, we’re told, brings a whole new energy to the show.
Renner described how Kate Bishop presents plenty of “lightness and brightness” in Hawkeye’s journey, even while he’s still dealing with some post-Endgame grief. “It has a buddy-cop feel; a mentor thing; beautiful, intimate shared experiences. It’s really touching and funny and I think it’s a really dynamic relationship, and I’m excited to see it all,” he said.
And apart from the continuous car shot-level action scene that was perfectly executed in the trailer, what most surprised us about the series was how Hawkeye’s ultimate mission was described: “to get back to his family for Christmas”. A little tongue-in-cheek humour from Marvel Studios, yes, especially when fans have noted how this is the second time — since Iron Man 3 — that we’re seeing a holiday feature.
Might we get a Die Hard meets the MCU kind of feel? President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, acknowledges that this is a “fun, grounded, action-Christmas series” that stands on its own compared to the others before it, noting the otherworldliness of Loki, geopolitical themes of The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, and the ode to sitcoms and grief that is WandaVision.
He continued: “It was fun, and a breath of fresh air, after world-ending stakes, and celestials bursting out of planets, and multiverse shenanigans — which makes this, like Hawkeye himself, a grounded, family-based show.”
Ahead, we hear from the show’s leads Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld, as well as Kevin Feige and director Rhys Thomas on what, we suppose, could be Marvel’s unofficial holiday special.
1. It’s Christmas in New York!
six episodes, six days. and a little irony.
Jeremy Renner (JR): “There’s an emotional through line that ties in from Endgame, but we start off with a very happy step forward into a family vacation in New York at Christmas, taking the kids to go see a musical — and then everything kinda goes sideways from there.”
Rhys Thomas (RT): “I think the story of a character like Clint just trying to live his life and trouble coming to find him, it’s a trope that we all love and enjoy. And setting it at Christmas time, that clash of family time with business time, it’s a classic combo.
Kevin Feige (KF): “I’ve always loved films or shows that take place over the holiday season. I think there’s a heightened amount of emotion and a heightened amount of conflict and tension that can occur, in this glorious season, and have always, honestly, been looking for opportunities.”
It’s also shot on location — right in new york.
RT: “New York’s very special to me. I think I was kind of a tyrant about being as true to New York as we could. Nothing bugs me more than fake geography in movies, so I think it was a given that we had to go there. It’s Christmas time in New York too. You want that real texture. Plus, we’ve got very human characters in the show as well, so I think anywhere that’s of a real-world feel can breathe through the show, we had to take it.”
2. The Hawkeye series introduces Kate Bishop, played by Hailee Steinfeld.
a young woman and a skilled archer — and a fan-favourite from the comics.
Hailee Steinfeld (HS): “I really do feel like playing this character, it sort of forced me to find a confidence and a determination and discipline that’s always been inside of me, but I really had to bring it out of myself to do this character justice. I feel so lucky to be playing a character that is so loved by so many and that people have been waiting for some time to see brought to life.”
on how kate bishop compares to gwen stacey (spider-man: into the spider-verse), also played by hailee.
HS: “They’re very different; in two completely different worlds. But the characters that I have played in the past do have this sort of consistency in being these young women who are strong-minded, have a point of view, have an idea of who they are in this world. Both Gwen Stacy and Kate Bishop are proof that if you set your mind to something, you can really achieve great things.”
3. Look out for the dynamic between Clint Barton and Kate Bishop, where Hawkeye is ‘set up’ to be a mentor for Hailee’s character.
JR: “You set up characters that could be polar opposites in a lot of ways, but then they have a lot of congruent, values and belief systems and skill sets. It’s a wonderfully complicated relationship, or friendship, or partnership. You can put all sorts of labels on it, and I think you can put these two characters in various different scenarios, and it’s gonna be a winning scenario. It has a buddy-cop feel; a mentor thing; beautiful, intimate shared experiences. It’s really touching and funny and I think it’s a really dynamic relationship, and I’m excited to see it all.”
HS: “It was very fun, sort of, figuring out as we were going the evolution of this dynamic in this relationship, and I think, ultimately, there’s a really true friendship there and an understanding. Kate sees Clint as someone who wants to do good and help people, despite his past, and that’s all she wants to do in life, and she’s inspired by him and wants to be at his level and is very over-eager, and he puts up with a lot. But she really delivers at the end of the day.”
4. The six-part series is heavily inspired by the beloved Matt Fraction and David Aja comic series.
RT: “Early on, talk was about a specific tone that that the Fraction run had, that was a real linchpin. It’s funny and also intimate in this amazing character study. It just handles these elements so well that there were just lots of moments that felt kinda too good not to reference and touch on, because it really defines these guys and their relationship.”
KF: “It was a big tonal inspiration for us. There are moments within all ofJeremy’s appearances where you see this mentor under the surface. This reluctant hero. One of my favourite scenes in all of our films is the scene with Clint and Wanda in Sokovia, when he basically says, you go out that door, you’re an Avenger, and motivates her to join the fight. That was the kernel of how we could connect our MCU incarnation of Clint Barton into the Matt Fraction storyline and the relationship with Kate Bishop.”
5. We’ll see even more of “family guy” Clint Barton — as well as how the hero deals with a post-Endgame reality.
JR: “I suppose it was survivor guilt outside just dealing with the loss. It’s addressed in the show, which I think is beautifully intimate. It brings our characters closer together, as well as the audience. There’s a lot of weight that’s carried, you know. There might be a veneer of grumpiness in this resting face in the show, but it ultimately comes from just the weight and the horrors, and the tragedies and loss, that come with the superhero game. The lightness and brightness that Hailee’s character brings in, it kinda counteracts that gets it to level out some. So, it’s pretty cathartic, and I think quite beautiful.”
on clint, the father.
JR: “It’s one of the more important anchors. These inform me, and even the audience, what Clint’s real superpower is. And it comes in amalgamation of all these amazing, very practical, ultimately very palatable and accessible morality, or actionability. I’ve always thought, look, there’s him being a father. Any amazing parent is a superhero in their own right; it is a tremendous honour and a gift, and the most difficult thing any human can go through. There’s a wonderful pragmatic-ness to it. And I think it really is the base to where all of his emotional steadfastness and actionability and relatability are for him and what his superpowers are.”
hawkeye LAUNCHES ON 24 november 2021 (wednesday) ON DISNEY+.
IMAGES, COURTESY OF MARVEL STUDIOS.