Inside Hawkeye, Marvel’s holiday-themed and most subversive show yet

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A hockey standalone adventure has been a long time coming to the MCU. Like Black Widow, Marvel fans have struggled for years for a project to be based on Clint Barton. But, when Natasha Romanoff finally landed the lead in a solo film in the summer of 2021, Hawkeye became the last member of the original Avengers line-up without a self-contained story.

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till now. With Marvel’s Phase 4 plans back on track after the new project releases in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawkeye is getting a solo adventure. However, unlike its fellow original Avengers, all of which received the big screen treatment, Hawkeye’s independent story comes through the Disney Plus TV series.

Previously, the exile of a fictional character into small screen productions was a sign of his declining popularity. Or, in the case of Hawkeye, not being as universally loved as Iron Man, Captain America, or Thor. But, as Hawkeye director Rhys Thomas points out, ironically, the TV medium is the best format for effectively telling Clint’s story.

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“Their MCU history is really interesting,” Thomas tells Nerdshala. “He didn’t have as much screen time as the others, but what makes him interesting is that he’s just a regular guy who has this unusual skill. He feels pain, gets beaten up, and He has those human weaknesses. They [the show’s writers] That’s set up such a fascinating arc for them, so telling that six one-hour episodes instead of a two-hour film was ideal for us. ,

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Ahead of Hawkeye’s November 24 launch, Nerdshala sat down with Thomas and executive producer Trin Tran to find out more about Marvel’s latest TV series. We discuss its unusual holiday-themed setting, bringing a musical sensibility to the MCU, and why Hawkeye may be the most subversive Marvel show yet.

take aim

Set shortly after the events portrayed in Avengers: Endgame, Hawkeye follows the adventures of Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), who has retired from active superhero duty. But, while traveling to New York City to celebrate the holiday season with his family, Barton becomes the target of several street gangs when individuals from his past unexpectedly resurface.

Why? Well, someone is masquerading as Ronin, the alter-ego that Barton assumed in Endgame when his family was cut out of existence by Thanos. After locating the culprit, Barton discovers who’s wearing his old Ronin outfit: Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), Hawkeye’s self-appointed number one fan and fellow expert archer. Believing that Bishop is the reason for his enemies’ withdrawal, for reasons that later become clear, a reluctant Barton teams up with Bishop to clean up his mess and put his demons to rest. Oh, and be back with your family just in time for Christmas.

If Hawkeye’s plot sounds familiar to comic fans, that’s because the elements are based on one of Marvel’s best print series in recent memory. Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye comic arc, which ran from 2012 to 2015, was an important inspiration for the show’s core creative team—not least for its comedy perspective. There is an obvious reason, in Tran’s view, why the Hawkeye TV show puts Clint in unusual circumstances, such as when he is forced to participate in a live-action role-playing performance.

“You’ve seen the family man and the serious superhero,” Tran says. “But you don’t see a different side of Clint, which is more comical in the race of Matt and David. The great thing is that Jeremy is very funny, and that makes it easy to put Clint in a setting that doesn’t allow him to interact with people like that.” What he doesn’t normally associate with. How does he react to it and get out of it from there? Jeremy was excited that we wanted to take the risk and find a different, lighter tone to his character. wanted to put up.”

Christmas Carol

Hawkeye’s setting helped lean the show’s creators into a more comedy-driven aspect of Clint’s personality. The show’s story is spread over six days leading up to Christmas Day – each episode takes place on a single day – as Barton tries to make it home in time for the holidays. The duration of the celebration, combined with Clint’s reserved and at-times grumpy nature, was then the dichotomy that the show’s synopsis was built around.

“Tonight, he’s also a bit of a serious character,” says Thomas. “But there’s something about the Christmas style that felt right to the vibe of the series. We’ve seen examples of this before, like Die Hard and Lethal Weapon, that marries grumpy characters with this light, warm Christmas energy and emotion.” Marvel never did [the Holiday season] Before, so it was fun to explore the idea of ​​a Christmas-themed show taking place on this tight timeline. ,

Holiday-themed productions weren’t the only inspiration for Hawkeye. For every film like The Grinch or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, non-holiday flicks were equally and stylistically influential, including the 1988 action-comedy Midnight Run and the 1984 neo-noir crime thriller Blood Simple.

I’ll happily continue working with Lucky – I’ll even give him his own spin-off show!

Rice Thomas, Hawkeye Director

Curiously, Hawkeye also represents Marvel’s first foray into the musical genre. As fans may have seen in the teaser trailers for Hawkeye, Clint and his family participate in a Steve Rogers stage play as part of their celebration plans. The sequence sees a cast play Hawkeye in The Battle of New York and, seeing exactly what happens during those events in the 2012 Avengers film, puts Clint in an uncomfortable position.

But Thomas, who has previously worked on musical-led productions including Adele Live in New York City, felt he couldn’t shy away from bringing some musical flair to the MCU when the opportunity arose.

“It was an innocent and silly idea that I quickly threw up,” he reveals. “We were trying to think about what Clint would be doing in New York, and it struck me as if he’d be seeing a stage version of himself, in a bad outfit, dancing away. It’s kind of absurd. But a lot of fun, and I got to work with Mark Shaiman (Hairspray, Mary Poppins Returns), who wrote the music. Again, this isn’t something Marvel has done before, so it’s exciting to hide a musical reference in the show. Was. “

a bishop and his dog

While Hawkeye is positioned as a Clint Barton single story, in reality it is not. Kate Bishop’s latest TV show from Marvel’s latest TV show has top billing on par with veteran superhero — a fact that may not surprise some fans, with Bishop embracing the Hawkeye mantle in the comics after Barton retired.

At the time, finding the right actor to portray Bishop was paramount. The ideal candidate didn’t need to exude the confidence and enthusiasm of Bishop’s comic counterpart; He also needed to be an amusing and slightly annoying foil to Barton’s world-weary persona. After a long search, Hailee Steinfeld (Bumblebee, Dickinson) was installed as the latest addition to the MCU.

“Hailee is so hardworking,” Tran reveals. “She did her homework on Kate to understand who she is and find her voice in the MCU. Kate is the perfect candidate to pull that funny side out of Clint because she’s so funny and smart, and she idolizes him.” which he is not used to seeing.

Kate Bishop isn’t the only fun character Hawkeye the show introduces from Fraction and Aja Run. Lucky the Pizza Dog, the fan-favorite of the duo’s series, the one-eyed dog, also made its live-action debut. Thomas believes that the audience will immediately fall in love with Lucky when he appears. And, like Bishop, Lucky’s inclusion is key to helping Clint move on from the trauma and stuff he’s carried since Endgame.

“Lucky is such a fun part of that comic run,” Thomas says. “I’ll happily continue working with Lucky — I’ll even give him my own spin-off show! His inclusion is very important to Clint’s arc, and our visual effects team replaced Lucky’s left eye in post-production.” Did a great job of removing. [for the role],

break expectations

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a father-daughter, dude cop style dynamic stems from Clint and Kate working together as the series progresses. For Tran, though, Hawkeye doesn’t involve Clint at all in the most interesting relationship he’s playing. Instead, Tran believes that the tense dynamic between Kate and her mother Eleanor, portrayed by Vera Farmiga (The Departed, Bates Motel), is the true heart and soul of the show.

This, Tran says, is what makes Hawkeye the most subversive MCU TV show of all time. In her eyes, fans would expect the series to focus primarily on Clint. When, in fact, it will follow Kate’s story as much, if not more, than the retired Avenger.

“We haven’t explored mother-daughter dynamics very much in the MCU,” admits Tran. “In the comics, it’s Derek Bishop [Kate’s father] Which is the tension he has with his daughter. We decided it would be more interesting if Eleanor and Kate had opposing views: we wanted to see how Kate sees herself, and who she thinks she wants to be, versus who Eleanor feels to her daughter. Is needed Happen. That’s the conflict we’re pushing for, and I think the drama is different from anything we’ve seen before in the MCU. ,

It is unclear whether Kate Bishop will take over from Clint Barton as the MCU’s version of Hawkeye. After all, unlike a superhero pseudonym like Iron Man, Hawkeye is gender neutral, meaning that male and female characters can use it as a nickname. Marvel is slowly moving on to the next generation of heroes, though, so if Steinfeld’s Bishop becomes Hawkeye Mark II, it won’t be a complete shock. There is also a question as to how the emerging multiverse could arrive…

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