He’s a S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Avenger, assassin, husband and father, but mentor?
If you’ve followed Clint Barton aka Hawkeye’s (Jeremy Renner) journey across the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the archer has held up his own against super criminals and demigods, and in the upcoming six-part Disney+ series that focuses on his character, audiences will see him mentor a protege, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld).
Which is a surprise because the last that audiences saw him, Barton went rogue after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, took up the Ronin guise and started killing criminals, before redeeming himself by working with his old friend Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) to claim the Soul Stone in Avengers: Endgame.
But if you recall events earlier, in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Barton briefly mentored Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and that formed the basis of his character’s narrative in the Disney+ show. Along with the desire for Renner to headline his first MCU project.
“Well, primarily it’s Jeremy Renner. All of his appearances were relatively small, obviously, Ultron we saw a little bit more and then he just started stealing all the scenes, but it was always the intention to explore much more – the character’s history is vast – and there are moments within all of Jeremy’s appearances where you see this mentor under the surface, this reluctant hero,” explained Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige at the show’s press conference Geek Culture attended.
“One of my favourite scenes in all of our films is the scene with Clinton and Wanda in Sokovia where he basically says, ‘You go out of 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 in the relationship with Kate Bishop.”
Along with Feige, Hawkeye director and producer Rhys Thomas, Renner, Steinfeld, along with co-stars Tony Dalton and Vera Farmiga, also shared what fans can expect from the series as well as what it could potentially expand into.
Hawkeye picks up right after the events of Avengers: Endgame and Black Widow, where Clint is on holiday in New York City with his children. His Christmas plans get cut short when he spots a young girl who needs help getting out of a big mess – the kind of mess that Clint had gotten himself into after losing his family to ‘The Snap’.
The series gives a better insight into what Clint has been up to for the five years he went rogue, allows fans to delve into the backstory of this rather guarded character, as well as set up the debut of fan-favourite comic book character Kate Bishop into the MCU.
Played by MCU newcomer, though not new to the comic book genre, Steinfeld made her debut in True Grit and has appeared in hit films including Bumblebee and Pitch Perfect 2, and also voiced the character of Gwen Stacy aka Spider-Gwen in the award winning animated film, Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse..
A rising star who can also be heard on Netflix’s League of Legends animated series, Arcane, as League champion Vi, Steinfeld didn’t even audition for the role of Bishop. The higher ups at Marvel just knew that she was perfect for the role – and when offered a role as big as this, Steinfeld did not hesitate to accept it.
“Playing this character forced me to find confidence, determination and discipline that’s always been inside of me. 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 loved by so many and that people have been waiting for sometime to see brought to life,” shared Steinfeld.
“I do find the characters that I have played in the past are women who are strong minded, have a point of view, have an idea of who they are in this world, and they really stop at nothing to get what they want to achieve. Both Gwen Stacy and Kate Bishop are proof that if you set your mind to something, you can really achieve great things.”
Whilst jumping onto an MCU project may be daunting to newcomers, the actress had some solid support from Renner. Always having her back and keeping an eye on her during filming, the two jumped into a comfortable dynamic instantly. The two noted that they naturally and organically built the dynamic as shooting went along, so it is interesting to see that the dynamic between talents Renner and Steinfeld actually mirror that of Barton and Bishop.
“You set up, you know, characters that are polar opposites in a lot of other ways, but then they have a lot of congruent values and belief systems and success and things like that, and it’s a wonderfully complicated relationship. You can put these two characters in various different scenarios. And it’s going to be a winning scenario,” shared Renner.
“It was very fun sort of figuring out the dynamic as we were figuring out the evolution of this relationship. Ultimately, there’s a really true friendship there and an understanding. Kate sees Clint as someone despite his past, as someone who wants to do good and wants to help people and that’s all she wants to do in life and she’s inspired by him and and motivated by him and wants to be at his level,” added Steinfeld.
And just as how the three earlier MCU Disney+ shows are an ensemble piece, with Wanda and her new Vision and Agatha, Sam and Bucky, and Loki with Loki, Hawkeye will see more than Barton and Bishop, as the show also introduces several Marvel Comics characters.
Marvel Studios recently announced a new line-up of Disney+ series that fans can look forward to, including a She-Hulk, Moon Knight and Agatha: House of Harkness series, as well as a standalone series featuring fan favourite character, Echo.
Although not present at the press conference, deaf Native American actress Alaqua Cox plays Echo and makes her debut in Hawkeye. Echo is a deaf Native American superhero who has the ability to perfectly copy another person’s movements or fighting style, making her a formidable opponent in battle. This will make her the second deaf superhero in the MCU, following Lauren Ridloff’s Makkari in Eternals.
Tony Dalton also plays Jack Duquesne/Swordsman, fiance to The Conjuring star Vera Farmiga’s Eleanor Bishop, and while they may not be the leads ala Clint and Kate, they are not background characters to be forgotten. In the comics, the Swordsman is a criminal who took a young Barton under his wing.
In fact, Dalton’s Duquesne Jack leaves a lasting impression two episodes into the series. A combination of suave, charm and almost being too nice, his candor comes off as deceiving, and just like Duquesne, Dalton is unwilling to share what fans can expect from his character.
“Absolutely nothing. I’m not gonna tell you anything about what’s going to happen,” laughed Dalton.
“People who have seen the first two episodes, I’m very excited for them to see the rest and the question will go to Tony, from ‘Who’s Jack Dusquesne?’ to ‘Where will we see him again?” teased Feige.
“Unless, you’re dead,” says Feige to Dalton who smiles mysteriously.
Fortunately, Farmiga is much more transparent about her role. Comic book fans know Eleanor Bishop as Kate’ mother, and whilst her character does get quite dark in the comics, Farmiga would like viewers to focus on the mother-daughter relationship Eleanor shares with Kate in the series. Farmiga would go as far to say that Eleanor is somewhat a superhero in her own right too.
“I think my character Eleanor does see herself as a kind of superhero. She is in the business of keeping people secure and having a daughter who has a lot of prowess, but also a lot of recklessness. All mothers try to help their daughters channel that power into something more effective, and certainly that’s the big lesson for us. I mean, that’s how it starts off,” shared Farmiga.
“I have marveled at this young lady since that first movie [True Grit] and I also loved this sort of very delicate and complex maternal relationship with daughters. It is a tricky sport raising a successful daughter, especially when the daughter and the mom have different ideas of what that success means but I’m just happy to be by Hailee’s side for this,” added Farmiga.
A mother-daughter relationship isn’t the only parental relationship fans will see in Hawkeye. Throughout the Marvel movies, fans have gotten glimpses of Clint’s family life, to his actions after losing them and Hawkeye drives that point even further. Even Renner can’t help but agree that being a father is core to who Clint is.
“[Fatherhood] was one of the more important anchors. It informs me, and it informs the audience, that Clint’s real superpower is an amalgamation of all these amazing, practical, ultimately very palatable and accessible morality, his actionability – and I’ve always thought you know, look, there’s indeed a father,” said Renner.
“A parent is a superhero in their own right. It’s a tremendous honour. There’s this wonderful pragmatic-ness to it and it really is the anchor and base to where all of his emotional steadfastness, actionability and relatability are for him. It’s what his superpowers are.”
As much as Clint is the Papa Bear of the Avengers group, and is seemingly the most put together, fans know that it’s not entirely the case. Clint’s desire to become a better father comes from his inability to spend time with his family as much as he would like. His job as a superhero isn’t exactly the safest either, and after years of fighting aliens and losing his family (only to regain them again after defeating Thanos), Clint has a lot of physical trauma and baggage to recover from.
“Clint is dealing with the loss. There’s a lot of things that are lost – it’s addressed in the show – there’s a lot of weight that gets carried, there might be a seemingly veneer of grumpiness and in the show but ultimately it comes from just the weight and the horrors and the tragedies and losses that come with the game,” explained Renner.
“It’s mending losses – that’s the superhero game, and the lightness and brightness that Hailee’s character brings in kind of counteracts that. He comes in and kind of gets to level out so it’s pretty cathartic and I think quite beautiful.”
With plenty of unpack about Clint, and with the numerous connections to the wider MCU that can come from Hawkeye alone, one can’t help but be appreciative that Hawkeye is a Disney+ series and not a brief 2-hour solo movie.
“It’s time to spend time with these characters and let them grow. And again, we’re introducing this character and it’s about these guys coming together and learning from one another,” explained director Rhys Thomas.
“It’s a world that you get to live in for a little longer. I mean, again, to me, it’s just more time. You fall in love with these characters when you make these things and you fall in love with all the possibilities, the ways you can annoy Clint and getting the runway to do that… you’re always gonna take it.”
So will there be a sequel? Nothing has been indicated and although Steinfeld and Renner have built a rather great partnership, the actress is aware that she won’t always be working with Renner. Joining the MCU is unlikely a one-time thing, and as the MCU expands to debut more and more characters, Steinfeld may just be on her way to soft-launching the Young Avengers, the next generation of the Marvel Comics superhero featuring a new generation of heroes.
When asked how she felt about setting up a new group of Young Avengers, the 24-year-old actress immediately turns to share a look at a panicked Feige before carefully replying, “I mean listen, this feels so crazy to me right now just sitting here with this group of people. I’m so grateful to be a part of this show and this universe and it’s only the beginning.”
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I try to take everything one step at a time,” she smiled nervously.
Whilst this neither confirms or denies the eventual debut of the Young Avengers, at least we know Steinfeld has her eye on the target.
Hawkeye premieres on Disney+ 24 November 2021.