It’s Christmas time! Well… it’s five weeks until Christmas, but in the world of the MCU, we are six days away from the holiday and Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, our favorite archer Avenger, is just trying to get back to the Barton homestead in time for movie marathons and gingerbread house building with his kids.
Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Vera Farmiga, Tony Dalton, and director Rhys Thomas and producer Kevin Feige were on hand to discuss Disney+’s upcoming series Hawkeye. The gang talked about its Christmas setting, chatted a little about the comic origins, the decision to finally give Clint his own series, and the casting of Kate Bishop.
A Christmas Production
Set during the holidays, Hawkeye adds the pressure and excitement of the holidays and gives it a superhero zing. “I’ve always loved films or shows or specials 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,” said Feige.
“This is fun because it is a Christmas story that is taking place during the holidays, and it also is based on early discussions about a limited time period, about setting a series in, not quite real-time, but essentially in a six-day period,” he explained. “Six episodes, six days. Will Clint make it home for Christmas? Which was fun and a breath of fresh air after world-ending stakes and celestials bursting out of planets and multiverse shenanigans.”
The series is a spiritual adaptation of the 2012 Hawkeye run by Matt Fraction and David Aja, with much of the tone of the series inspired by the comics. “It’s such amazing source material. I think early on, the talk was about that specific tone that that Fraction run has a real linchpin,” Rhys Thomas explained, commenting on the humor of the story but also its intimacy in character study. “It just handles those elements so well. There were just lots of moments that felt kinda too good not to reference and touch on.”
And with the year nearly over, Feige commented on what the end of year one of Disney+ series felt like and where he and the Marvel Studios team are looking. “Yes, it’s the end of year one of the projects finally coming out and people being able to see them. But it’s about year three or four for us as we’ve been developing them,” he divulged.
The reception has been gratifying, Feige added, “It feels like the audience has responded the way we wanted to. That it doesn’t seem like an overabundance of this. I have always said, nobody will get bored before we at Marvel Studios will of these projects. And going, uh, 20 plus years, I’m not anywhere near bored yet. Because we’re allowed to do within the sub-genre so many different types of things. With amazing casts like this. And I really can’t stress, people have seen the first two episodes, but I’m very excited for them to see the rest.”
A Hawkeye Story
The series follows both Clint Barton and Kate Bishop as they traverse through New York, with Clint confronting both the ghosts of his past as Ronin and also an eager young protégé in the form of Kate. Clint, who suffered through the loss of his family during the Blip became the murderous and vengeful Ronin, managed to get his family back post-Blip, but still lost his closest friend, Natasha Romanoff on Vormir.
Renner discussed Clint’s survival guilt, beyond just the loss of a comrade. “I suppose it was survivor guilt outside [of] just dealing with the loss. There’s a lotta things that are lost. You know what I mean? It’s addressed in the show, which I think is beautifully intimate. It brings our characters [Clint and Kate] closer together as well as the audience,” Renner explained. “There’s a lotta weight that’s carried.”
“There might be a seeming 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 game. [Managing] losses are the superhero game and the lightness and brightness that Hailee’s character brings in kinda counteracts that, and comes in, and kinda gets it to level out some. So, it’s pretty cathartic and I think quite beautiful.”
Also notably included in Clint’s appearance in the Hawkeye show is his hearing aid, a nod to the comics canon where Clint has been wearing a hearing aid for years to help his partial hearing loss. “I thought it was just a really wonderful thing ’cause it’s always been a part of Clint’s character in the comics and [they have] found a way to make it a truthful entry point for his life and how it affects his life,” Renner mused.
“And there is a wonderful vulnerability that comes — and I say wonderful– there’s a lot that ties into, uh, other characters because of it in a fun way, in a negative way and a positive way,” he teased, adding, “It’s really, really interesting, and I found it to be quite a dynamic, interesting, um, sometimes an obstacle, and then sometimes an asset.”
Of course, it isn’t all about Clint. His meeting Kate is the ultimate catalyst of the series, and he becomes a reluctant mentor to the young archer. “There are moments within all of Jeremy’s appearances where you see this mentor under the surface. This reluctant hero. This reluctant mentor under the surface” noted Feige, who referenced Clint’s pep talk to Wanda in Sokovia during Ultron as one of his favorite scenes. You remember the one, “You step out that door, you are an Avenger.”
“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,” added Feige.
For Renner’s part, the dynamic relationship between the two characters, who could be polar opposites, is brought together by similar values or skill sets. “It’s a wonderfully complicated relationship or friendship or partnership, all these type of things,” he said. “It’s already kinda set up that way, 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 thing]. It has a mentor thing. It has a beautiful intimate shared experience that they have.”
“Truly, I would agree,” said Steinfeld. “It was very fun 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, 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 motivated 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.”
Casting Kate Bishop
On the topic of the marvelous Kate Bishop, Feige revealed that the part was essentially written for Steinfeld. “Hailee did not audition,” he said. “We were very, very lucky that Hailee was open to this because we very much believed that she was sort of the prototype for the character, and as occasionally happens, the dream version of the character agrees to do it.”
Steinfeld, who had her breakthrough as an Academy Award nominee in True Grit, is also no stranger to Marvel Universe. She voiced Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and now is stepping into the shoes of Kate Bishop. “I find 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. And they really stop at nothing to get what they want, to achieve what they want to achieve,” said Steinfeld. (Note, she is also amazing as Emily Dickinson in Dickinson which had its final season premiere earlier this month!)
“She came in very, very prepared,” Renner praised. “She came in hot. She was ready. It’s pretty awesome. It’s pretty sad that it makes me feel old that I see a lotta people come in and see a lotta people go. I’m, like, a grandpa. It’s terrible,” he joked.
But, Renner, as the veteran of the MCU, was on hand as a real-life mentor for Steinfeld as she entered into the machine that is the MCU. “For me, I know I just wanted to communicate with her that I had her back and that there’s gonna be a lotta strange things that go on. It’s different than other types of filmmaking. I just wanted to let her know that she wasn’t alone and I had her back and I’ll give her the answers if she needed them,” he said.
Farmiga, who plays Kate’s mother, Eleanor Bishop, also praised Steinfeld’s performance and reminded us that she was once an archer too (having played alongside the late Heath Ledger in Roar). “If I wasn’t gonna be wielding that bow and arrow, I just wanted to be next to someone with true grit,” she said, teasing the name of Steinfeld’s first hit. “To be honest with you, I have marveled at this young lady since that first movie [True Grit], and I also loved this very delicate and complex maternal relationship with daughters. It is a tricky sport raising a successful daughter, you know, especially when the daughter and the mom have different ideas of what that success means.”
And as far as Kate’s status as a probable young Avenger? “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. The show’s not even out, so I’m looking forward to that day,” dodged Steinfeld, who was humble in trying to stay in the moment of the series’ upcoming release.
It is likely that she will take her place among the other young adult characters being introduced into the MCU as one of the young Avengers. That idea of a decade stint in the MCU might either be daunting or thrilling, but Steinfeld simply said, “I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I try and take everything one step at a time.” Well, for the record, we’re excited to see it if it happens.
Hawkeye will premiere its first two episodes on November 24, 2021 on Disney+.