Executive Producer Trinh Tran Details Hawkeye’s Redemption And A Clint And Kate Teamup – Exclusive Interview
Not all heroes wear capes, and producers are some of the best kinds. While “Hawkeye” executive producer Trinh Tran doesn’t suit up in unforgiving spandex or don a crossbow, her work on our favorite MCU projects is tangible on the screen. Let’s face it: If we didn’t have talented people like Tran behind the scenes of our favorite MCU blockbuster hits (and now Disney+ shows), the MCU would have crumbled before it even began.
“Hawkeye” might be Tran’s first foray into a Disney+ show, but she’s been with the MCU from the very beginning. Tran worked her way up from assistant on “Iron Man” and “The Avengers” before snagging creative executive titles for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and winning an associate producer credit for “Captain America: Civil war.” From there, she went on to executive produce two of the MCU’s crown jewels: “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” Is that not an impressive resume?
Promoting from within is one of the MCU’s greatest strengths — giving the creatives who have been with the franchise since the beginning their chance to shine. Now, Hawkeye himself is getting his own promotion. His self-titled series shines a light on the occasionally forgotten gruff yet charming Clint Barton that we all adore. Now, he has two new partners in crime: Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and everyone’s favorite Pizza Dog, Lucky (the cutest dog ever).
During an exclusive interview with Looper, “Hawkeye” executive producer Trinh Tran dished on the show’s comic book inspiration, the transition between MCU films and TV, and carving space to deal with Hawkeye’s grief and PTSD.
Clint Barton: The comics version we deserve
“Hawkeye” is such a delightful love letter to the comics. Are there any particular issues of Hawkeye’s comic appearances that you tried to emulate in the show?
I don’t think there were specific scenes, but what I can say is, I just could not put the Fraction run down when I read it. I think all of Kate Bishop, in general, is just so much fun. And there were so many great moments that we just wanted to put everything in there. And obviously, we wanted to make sure it was organic in how it fits into the MCU in a way that felt natural, right? To all the characters, to Kate Bishop coming into Clint Barton’s world.
I guess one of my favorite moments is the both of them, and they’re holding that arrow together — it speaks so much without saying much at all, visually, if that makes sense. And it’s just the message of him opening up and allowing somebody new to come in because he feels that she has that skill, and has that ability, and trusts that she can be a part of this world. And I think that’s so inspirational to everybody who’s watching it.
Was there anything that you wanted to tackle that you maybe couldn’t for some reason?
There are some items that I can’t say specifically until everybody has seen, that unfortunately, did not make the cut, only because there was just so much content that we have. And sometimes, there are deleted scenes and deleted moments that didn’t end up in the series. But hopefully, it’ll be on a special content, a moment for everybody to watch, but I don’t want to spoil it until everybody has seen it, yeah.
The journey from blockbuster films to Disney+ TV
You were also a producer in some of the biggest MCU movies of all time, from “Endgame,” “Infinity War,” and “Civil War.” But this is your first MCU TV show. So how did those kinds of projects compare to this one, and how did they maybe prepare you for “Hawkeye,” and what are some of the highlights and challenges that each faced?
That’s a great question. I wanted to try something different, and as soon as we heard that there was the Disney+ platform, and that the characters can be introduced in that world, I wanted to see what it was like on the TV side. Working at Marvel, the great thing is that we have a process, and we treat both our features and our series as if [they] were the same. So the process in itself is similar because we wanted to make the series the same cinematic quality that you guys have seen in the last ten years of all the features.
I guess one of the biggest differences I find is that there [is] six hours worth of content versus two hours, in the same amount of time in space that we normally have for the feature. So it’s a little bit more intense in terms of the schedule and the faster pace, but you know what? I love a challenge, and this is why I’m doing the show.
Poking fun at our favorite archer
This show sort of pokes fun at Hawkeye’s position as the odd man out in terms of popularity. He’s always been a favorite of mine, though. What do you think makes Hawkeye unique, and how do you think this show really enhances his character and shows a different side of him that we haven’t necessarily gotten a chance to dive deep into in the “Avengers” movies?
And that is actually one of the very reasons why I wanted to explore the Clint Barton story in the “Hawkeye” series, is because there is a different side of Clint in the comics that I find so interesting, and so appealing, and so fun to read. And it was figuring out how do we pull that out but still preserve the character that we have created in the last ten years in the “Avengers” movie. We started the Clint Barton journey in the “Avengers” movie, more on the “Ultimate” Clint side, right? It was the “Ultimate Comics” side. So a little bit more serious. He’s a family man.
The Fraction run Hawkeye Clint Barton is the loner, reckless person. So how do we meld those two together? And what I was really interested in is the lighter tone side of Clint, and I thought, Kate Bishop is the perfect person to bring that side out because she’s a ball of energy — she’s so smart, she can’t stop talking, she’s almost the opposite of who Clint is in that personality. And when you put somebody like her with him, I think it’s just that dynamic is gold and it’s magic. And it brings out that fun humor side of him that we haven’t seen yet, and that’s what makes this particular series enjoyable.
Honoring Clint's grief and PTSD
We’re tackling Hawkeye’s grief over Natasha and his general PTSD over what he did during the Blip. What were some of the key things that you wanted to include on that front? And why was it important for everyone to give Clint the space to deal with his trauma?
We definitely didn’t want to just start his story by ignoring everything else that he has gone through, especially after “Endgame.” Loss of his best friend, Nat, losing his family for five years, becoming Ronin — a whole different identity, and then getting his family back. I think there’s a lot that he still has to deal with and work out. And so, from there, we wanted to just continue that journey and have him sort of face those challenges that he feels he needs to get through.
And I think one of the biggest ones is family, and not having that time that … Sort of, it’s the lost time that he had with his family, right? And how does he get that back, which is why this particular series, it’s set during the holiday season. It’s thematically about him wanting to spend time with his family, and now there’s that urgency of, “I need to get back home, because I’ve made such a big deal about wanting to celebrate Christmas with my kids and my wife, but I’m stuck here on a mission that I can’t get out of.” And every day is a day that he’s missing these moments with them.
Fans can now check out the first two episodes of “Hawkeye” streaming on Disney+. New episodes will release on Wednesdays.