Things In Hawkeye That Mean More Than You Realize
Incredibly, “Hawkeye” was the fifth Marvel Studios series to debut on Disney+ in 2021, after “WandaVision,” “Loki,” “What If…” and “Falcon And The Winter Soldier” — and it just might have been the best. Following the Christmas adventures of Clint Barton and his unexpected new ally Kate Bishop — a young archer with a serious case of hero worship — the pair had to contend with a New York crime syndicate, vengeful Red Room graduate Yelena Belova, a potential new supervillain in Maya Lopez, and the surprise return of “Daredevil” foe the Kingpin.
But it isn’t all action, with a heart and charm flowing from its two charismatic leads, and some serious character drama as Clint and Kate dealt with multiple personal crises. The six episode series was loaded with new and returning characters, as well as plenty of Easter eggs and references for fans to pour over, from nods to comic book adventures and past MCU stories to possible hints at future movies and series.
Some new characters have seemingly already been slated to return, like Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox), who was announced to be receiving her own series titled “Echo,” while actress Hailee Steinfeld has hinted at more appearances for Kate Bishop. Now that the series has concluded, let’s take a closer look and examine some details that might mean more than you realize, with connections you may have missed, and portents of things to come.
The Maya Lopez connection to Ronin
In the comics continuity, the character of Ronin first appeared in “Avengers” #11 in 2005 as a mysterious, shadowy new member of the superhero team whose identity was a mystery. It was implied, however, that it was someone we knew, and early guesses were Matt Murdock or even Spider-Man experimenting with a new superhero identity. But it wasn’t either of those heroes, and it wasn’t even Hawkeye, as it would be in the MCU — it was the female assassin Echo, who had been introduced just five years earlier in the pages of “Daredevil.”
For Marvel to introduce Maya Lopez — the future vigilante Echo — into the MCU in a series centered on Hawkeye’s past as Ronin can’t be a coincidence. Some fans theorized early on that we could see her suit up as the sword-wielding ninja vigilante before the end of the six episode series, but that never came to pass. Still, the link is too strong to be ignored, so perhaps the connection is foreshadowing a future for Lopez in a new Ronin outfit, perhaps even in her own series “Echo.” Over the years, the Ronin identity has been used by several Marvel mainstays — including Blade, another character due to soon make his debut in the MCU. So perhaps in this universe, like in the comics, the Ronin identity could pass from hero to hero.
The home of Moira Brandon
In the second episode of “Hawkeye,” Clint Barton tells Kate to find a safe place to lay low, and she takes refuge at the apartment of an “aunt” named Moira Brandon, who she says is away on vacation in Florida. Little is revealed about Ms. Brandon, but eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed the name on the apartment, and the many old Hollywood movie posters with her name on them adorning the walls.
Clearly Moira was a Hollywood starlet, and we see movie posters for such fictional classics as “A Chance For Love,” “The Savage Hyrax,” and “Creature Of The Dark Galaxy.” Incidentally, we also see the name of one of her leading men as Luke Ballard, who not-so-coincidentally shares his name with a visual effects artist who has worked on several Marvel movies.
Die-hard fans know this is the same Moira Brandon from the Marvel comics who was a big name actress in years past, and was depicted in a West Coast Avengers adventure — a team lead by none other than Hawkeye. In “West Coast Avengers” #100 from 1993, the estate of the actress was purchased by Hawkeye and his wife Mockingbird (more on her later), converted into the new Avengers Compound for his Atlantic team. Though the elderly Moira Brandon is killed by the villain Crossfire in that same issue, Hawkeye grants her full Avengers status before her death.
When Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) first appeared in “Hawkeye,” fans could be forgiven for thinking this was some new, wackier version of the character — “Kingpin Gone Hawaiian,” as it were — decked out in a garish red floral shirt and a red-banded white fedora to match his milk-toned suit. But the outfit was not a random choice by the producers, and was clearly a carefully-chosen visual cue. The outfit is identical to one Fisk is seen sporting in the comics, specifically on the cover to the first issue of the “Spider-Man” mini-series “The Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business.”
In that 2014 comic book limited series, Peter Parker discovers an apparent sister he never knew, who had supposedly been kept a secret from Aunt May and sent off for adoption by her CIA agent parents. Now an agent, recruited by none other than Nick Fury, she discovers her parentage and seeks out Peter, who she believes is targeted by the Kingpin.
Of course, after the adventure, it becomes clear that Theresa isn’t actually Parker’s sister, having been manipulated by Fisk and a villain called Mentallo. Nevertheless, the outfit worn by D’Onofrio is a curious nod to a seemingly random issue, making wonder if it was chosen just because it looked cool, or if it was a hint at something more.
Those trick arrows
Trick arrows have long been a hallmark of the villain-turned-hero Hawkeye from the comics, and have been seen in the MCU since “The Avengers,” where he used exploding tips and even a computer data retrieval arrow. But nevertheless, trick arrows became a surprisingly big part of the “Hawkeye” series on Disney+.
Barton uses a variety of trick arrows, including a gloop arrow, an electric net arrow, and a spike-throwing arrow. What’s most interesting, however, is the source of their strength: while the final episode shows Barton and Bishop fashioning many new arrows themselves, several arrows employ technology created by Barton’s Avenger allies Hank Pym and Tony Stark — the former Ant-Man and the late Iron Man.
Clearly, the series is telling us that the heroes of the MCU work together, even when they are apart, with tech whizzes like Pym and Stark happily supplying their teammates with resources for solo adventures. But the presence of at least two “Stark” arrows begs the question if Stark Industries has survived the death of its founder, and is still producing new weapons for the Avengers. Could this also be a hint towards the upcoming Disney+ series, “Armor Wars”? If Rhodey is going to be tracking down all the Stark tech that exists, as he did in the comics on which the series will be based, Barton may just be his first visit.
Clint's claim of Ronin's death
When taken hostage by the track suit mafia and tied up in an abandoned KB Toys that the crime syndicate uses as its hideout, Barton is questioned by Maya about the vigilante killer known as Ronin. All Lopez knows is that a man dressed as Ronin killed her father, and Barton seems to have a connection to him, having gone to great lengths to help Bishop — who she knows has worn the same costume. But Barton isn’t about to confess to his past as a killer, claiming instead that Ronin is dead. When asked how he knows, he says he was there, and that it was Black Widow Natasha Romanoff who killed him.
On one hand, this could be seen as Barton hoping to avoid a death sentence at Maya’s deadly hand, as she seeks revenge for her father’s death; on the other, it’s a very real explanation for the fate of his Ronin identity. Nobody had more disdain for his deeds as the killer Ronin than Barton himself, and when he was brought back into the Avengers fold in “Avenger: Endgame,” the Ronin identity “died.” It was Natasha, perhaps, who did kill Ronin when she sacrificed herself to help resurrect his family via the infinity stones.
Echo's palm print
A central part of the “Hawkeye” series, Maya Lopez is as complicated a villain as any seen in the MCU to date, having been raised to have a good heart by her mafia henchman father who just so happened to be working for Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of crime. Though she called the Kingpin “uncle,” Fisk had arranged her father’s death by tipping off the Ronin to his whereabouts, who swiftly assassinated him during his war on underworld crime in the wake of “The Snap.” As he lay dying, William Lopez put a blood-soaked hand on Maya’s face, marking it with a bright red handprint, as he had in the comics.
In the final episode, when Maya confronts her lover Kazi (Fra Fee) realizing he had played a part in her father’s death, she’s forced to kill him, but as he dies in her arms he makes a similar gesture — briefly placing his hand on her face, echoing her father’s final moments. Though we don’t see it in “Hawkeye,” it’s possible Maya will don a permanent face marking — similar to her look in the comics — as a tribute to the two fallen men in her life when she takes on the “Echo” moniker in her own solo series.
Kate's rooftop fall
“Hawkeye” boasted a roster of Marvel heroes and villains pulled straight from the comics that included Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, Ronin, The Swordsman, Yelena Belova, and ultimately the Kingpin. But one major Marvel hero who never appeared stillcast such a big shadow over the series that she may as well have been part of the cast: Black Widow. In retrospect, “Hawkeye” wasn’t merely the origin story for Marvel’s next ace archer, but also a heart-tugging tale of Clint Barton dealing with the loss of his best friend Natasha Romanoff in the aftermath of her death on Vormir.
Several moments in the series pay direct emotional homages to Natasha, from Barton’s tribute while standing in front of a plaque at New York’s Grand Central Station to his heart-wrenching final confrontation with Natasha’s sister Yelena. But one moment in particular forced Barton to relive that fateful moment on Vormir again. During his first fight with Yelena Belova atop a New York City rooftop, his ally, the young Kate Bishop — the new partner he compares directly to Natasha in the series’ final episode — is thrown off the building, and Barton leaps to grab her, but fails. The look on his face tells the story as he’s reliving his worst nightmare of his partner falling to her death. Thankfully, a string of Christmas lights caught Bishop and stopped her fall.
Jack's heroic swordplay
When the series opened, many assumed that Jack Duquesne — the alias of the supervillain “The Swordsman” in the Marvel comics — might be a new adversary for Hawkeye. But a sudden turn in the final episode saw Duquesne fending off the tracksuit mafia and defending both Hawkeye’s LARPing allies and his stepdaughter Kate Bishop. It’s possible that the evidence of his criminal involvement was a ruse invented by Eleanor, and Marvel was using fans’ knowledge of his comic book counterpart as a red herring. It’s equally possible that his heroic turn in the finale could hint that perhaps he’s not the villain fans thought he might be.
Considering he was a very brief one-time ally of the Avengers in the Marvel comics continuity — even sacrificing himself to save a hero — it’s also entirely possible that Duquesne may become a hero of sorts rather than a villain, or perhaps an anti-hero like U.S. Agent or Yelena Belova. In fact, he could very well be Valentina Allegra de Fontaine’s next recruit.
Incidentally, Duquesne’s comic book counterpart was once part of a key storyline involving Kang The Conqueror. With his appearance in “Loki” and hints that he might become the MCU’s next big bad, it will be interesting to see if Kang and the future Swordsman once again find their fates intertwined.
The apparent death of the Kingpin
The finale of “Hawkeye” saw the Kingpin make his first major appearance in the MCU proper, and his presence was felt in a big way. Though he and Hawkeye never met face-to-face, Fisk and Kate Bishop had a confrontation for the ages, showing off how frightening a villain he can be. While it would seem that he may have been killed by an off-camera gunshot fired by his jilted ex-henchman Maya Lopez, it seems hard to believe they’d re-introduce Vincent D’Onofrio for just one appearance.
Interestingly, it’s now being rumored that the original plan for the Kingpin’s first real MCU appearance was as a post-credits stinger, and that reshoots added Fisk to the fight in the finale. If true, that would mean that Maya’s alleyway showdown with Fisk was also added late in production, and could have been written only after the “Echo” series was decided upon. In the comics, Echo gets similar revenge, firing a gun point blank at Kingpin — who survives, but is left blinded while undergoing a painful recovery. Setting up a story similar to the comic books, with Echo wounding the Kingpin as revenge for her father’s death, would be a smart move as it puts Kingpin on the defensive and creates a compelling dynamic between the two characters.
From the beginning of “Hawkeye,” fans had speculated about the mysterious watch up for sale at the black market auction in the first episode. After all, what might have seemed like a meaningless Easter egg — a fancy watch with the tag “Avengers Compound” — might have belonged to the likes of Tony Stark or Doctor Strange. But later episodes revealed the watch was every bit as important to Clint Barton as the Ronin outfit, but the reason why wasn’t made clear until the series finale.
When Kate broke into Maya Lopez’s apartment and retrieved the watch, it got back into the hands of the good guys; it wasn’t until Kate came to the Barton farm for Christmas in the finale, however, that we learned what the watch meant. Handing it over to Laura (the original owner), she turned the Rolex over to reveal an old S.H.I.E.L.D. logo alongside the inscription #19. In comics continuity, Hawkeye was married to the character Mockingbird, who was once known as “Agent 19,” indicating that Laura Barton may just be the MCU’s version of Mockingbird, Bobbi Morse. But if that last name sounds familiar, you’re not wrong: actress Adrianne Palicki played an agent named Bobbi Morse on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” though she never officially took the name Mockingbird.
Ronin's history with Kingpin
During flashback scenes in “Hawkeye” Episode 3 — appropriately titled “Echoes” — we see the death of Maya Lopez’s father at the hands of the Ronin. This all occurred during the five-year period after Thanos snapped half of the universe out of existence and Barton lost his family, for a time becoming a ruthless, unforgiving vigilante hunting down criminals in the city’s underworld. The scene suggests that during this time, crime in New York City was overtaken by the Kingpin, and Ronin was able to put a serious dent in his activities. But what about that OTHER New York City vigilante in the MCU known for clashing with Kingpin?
While it’s possible that the versions of Daredevil and Kingpin we’re now seeing in the MCU via “Hawkeye” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” are not the same ones we saw in the Netflix series, but it’s more likely their histories will be left at least vaguely intact.
With that in mind, since it was Ronin at odds with Wilson Fisk during “The Blip,” this suggests that Daredevil may have been one of the many to be dusted, which would have left Fisk — released from prison, as we saw him at the end of the third season of “Daredevil” — to face no opposition from the Man Without Fear. This could be an important matter when Matt Murdock returns in a larger role (perhaps in the upcoming “Echo” series), as he may be looking to make clear to Fisk that he’s back in town.
The future of Eleanor Bishop
Audiences may not have thought there was much fishy about Kate Bishop’s mother Eleanor early in the series, but fans of the comics had their own well-founded suspicions. In the comic books, Kate’s mother dies, but is later found resurrected as a vampire (yes, you heard that right) working in the employ of notorious Avengers villain Madame Masque. Savvy viewers suspected early on that Eleanor’s MCU counterpart might be more than meets the eye, with some fans even theorizing that she might be this continuity’s version of Madame Masque herself. Instead, Bishop was revealed to be working for Wilson Fisk, even if only to clear out her late husband’s debt to the Kingpin.
While she may not have been revealed to be a big name Marvel villain, the finale saw Eleanor arrested rather than killed like in the comics, so we may yet see her turn into a greater threat. But with vampires due to be introduced to the MCU with “Blade” — or possibly sooner, if some rumors are to be believed — all options for Eleanor’s comic book fate coming to pass in the MCU are on the table.